Houston starts the season with a victory

Astros cruise past A's for Opening Day win

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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