Houston starts the season with a victory

Astros cruise past A's for Opening Day win

Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley of the Astros celebrating
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley celebrate a home run on Opening Day 2021

After coming a game shy of making their third World Series appearance in four years, the Astros left behind the pandemic-shortened 2020 season where they fell to the Rays in the ALCS and turned their attention to a new, clean 162-game slate. As far as the fans at Oakland Coliseum were concerned Thursday night, though, their reputation was anything but clean, as Houston began their 2021 regular season playing their first regular-season game in front of booing fans to start a four-game series against the A's. The Astros were able to weather the hostility, driving in enough runs to back up a solid start by Zack Greinke to start the year 1-0.

Final Score: Astros 8, A's 1

Astros' Record: 1-0, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke

Losing Pitcher: Chris Bassitt

Houston brings in the first runs

Both teams began the night quietly at the plate, with just a lone hit on each side through three innings. Houston fared better the second time through their lineup, starting with Jose Altuve, who led off the fourth with a walk, advanced to third on a double by Michael Brantley, then scored on an RBI-groundout by Alex Bregman, the first run of the season to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

The reason for the quiet start for both offenses — an entertaining pitching matchup was unfolding against Chris Bassitt and Zack Greinke. While Bassitt allowed a run in the fourth, he was otherwise successful on the mound until the sixth, when he would be relieved after a one-out double followed by a walk. Both of those runs would eventually score, as later in the inning, Yordan Alvarez sent a fastball the opposite way off the left-field wall for a two-RBI double to extend the lead to 3-0.

Greinke cruises through six

For Houston, Greinke was on cruise control tossing six scoreless frames, during which he allowed only three hits and just one runner to make it to scoring position. It being just the first game of the season, Dusty Baker did not try to test him too far, going to his bullpen after six innings. Greinke's final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 82 P.

Enoli Paredes took over in the seventh, allowing Oakland's first run of the night and season after a leadoff double would come around on a sac-fly to make it a 3-1 game. Paredes would toss more pitches than he bargained for but eventually completed the frame with only the one run allowed.

Astros get the Opening Day victory

Michael Brantley took the run right back in the top of the eighth, leading the inning off with a solo home run to push the lead back to three runs. Alex Bregman made it back-to-back homers in the next at-bat, crushing one of his own 418 feet to the left-field stands, extending the lead to 5-1. Houston would load the bases on two walks and a pitch into Yordan Alvarez's back but left them stranded to keep the score there.

Joe Smith, who opted out of the 2020 season, made his return to regular-season play, coming in out of the bullpen for the bottom of the eighth. He faced four batters, getting two outs while allowing two hits before left-handed Blake Taylor would come in to counter lefty Matt Olson, who struck out to end the frame.

In the top of the ninth, former-Astro Reymin Guduan loaded the bases with no outs after a single and back-to-back walks to start things off. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez would both bring in runs on a sac fly, Michael Brantley scored on a wild pitch, and when the dust settled, it was now an 8-1 game. Ryne Stanek was given the bottom of the ninth with the large lead, which he would complete to finish off the win.

Up Next: The second of this four-game series will be another late start in the Central time zone, getting underway at 8:40 PM on Friday. Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA in 2020) will look to build upon the success he found in 2020 for the Astros, starting on the mound opposite of Jesus Luzardo (3-2, 4.12 ERA) for the A's.

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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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