Houston powers past Seattle for the victory

Astros start 2020 with an Opening Day win over the Mariners

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In a long-awaited return to baseball, the Houston Astros were able start the shortened 2020 season with a win at home over the visiting Mariners. Justin Verlander allowed a couple of solo home runs in an otherwise solid start, earning him his first win of the year after Houston's offense backed him up with some strong middle innings.

Final Score: Astros 8, Mariners 2.

Record: 1-0, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (1-0, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (0-1, 6.23 ERA).

Astros and Mariners trade runs early

After a quiet first inning of the game, both in terms of offense and the eerily silent, empty stadium, the Mariners struck first with Kyle Lewis crushing a ball to the train tracks in the top of the second inning off of Justin Verlander.

Josh Reddick notched Houston's first hit of the night to lead off the bottom of the third, drilling a ball to the right-center field wall for a double. He moved to third on a groundball for the first out, then scored on an RBI-single by Martin Maldonado, the first run of the season to tie the game 1-1.

In the top of the fourth, with Verlander looking to have settled in, Seattle got their second hit and second solo home run as Kyle Seager pushed the Mariners back in front 2-1.

Big fifth inning pushes Houston ahead 

In the bottom of the fifth, Aledmys Diaz led the inning off with a single, then moved to third on a defensive error before scoring to tie the game 2-2 on an RBI-single by Jose Altuve. That set up a big inning of offense with Alex Bregman hitting a go-ahead RBI-single to make it 3-2 before Michael Brantley launched a three-run home run to extend the new lead 6-2.

They added even further to the lead in the bottom of the next inning, getting a one-out double by Abraham Toro. He came in for Aledmys Diaz in the DH spot after Diaz left with discomfort, a word that is all too familiar to Astros fans over the last year or so. Toro scored on Maldonado's second RBI, a single to extend the lead to five runs at 7-2.

Verlander meanwhile was able to limit Seattle to just their two solo home runs and one other hit over his six innings of work, starting his season off with a decent game to earn his first win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7K, 2 HR.

​Two debuts out of the bullpen close things out

Chris Devenski was the first reliever to take the mound, working around a two-out double by striking out the side in the top of the seventh, while Carlos Correa drove in his first run on an RBI-double to make it 8-2 in the bottom half.

Blake Taylor made his major-league debut out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth, and he too was able to keep Seattle off the board with a quick nine-pitch inning and held the lead at six runs. That set up Enoli Paredes, who was also making his debut, to close things out in the ninth, and he did so as Houston grabbed a 1-0 start to the year.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set between the Astros and Mariners will be in Houston tomorrow at 3:10 PM Central. The starting pitching matchup will be Taijuan Walker for Seattle, going up against Lance McCullers Jr. for Houston. McCullers will be making his first start since 2018 after sitting out the 2019 season with Tommy John surgery.

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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