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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It's all about Deshaun. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans moved to 3-7 following their 27-20 win over the Patriots. They are still without a permanent head coach and general manager. There lies the problem, and those problems will be settled this upcoming offseason. The new general manager and head coach will steer this franchise in the direction it needs to go in. Undoubtedly, Deshaun Watson will be at the forefront of what they do. How can he not be? You don't take a job like this with a quarterback like him and not consider him the centerpiece. What else would make one take either of those jobs? The salary cap hell the team is facing? The lack of draft picks coming off a terrible year? The faith ownership has placed in the NFL's version of Littlefinger?

Watson is the lone attraction to the flaming dumpster fire Cal McNair allowed to occur on his watch. If he's not careful, it could get worse and he'll find it hard to recover from. Watson signed an extension that'll keep him in Houston for another four years. He'll still be in his prime (barring any serious, career-threatening injury), and be eligible to hit the market as a free agent before he turns 30. So who do the Texans hire as head coach that can get the most out of Watson? Who can convince him to stay and re-sign after his extension is up?

The main cast of characters will most likely take better jobs. The Jets job is more attractive because of the cap space and draft picks. If the Falcons job opens up, so is it because of Matt Ryan and that offense. What coach/coaches would be interested in taking on this job that would be viable candidates given that the best of the best would take other jobs? Jayson Braddock and I tackled this topic not too long ago on Late Hits. Here are a few guys off the beaten path we felt were contenders:

Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll is a guy who, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, is openly campaigning for this job. The work he's done with Josh Allen has been remarkable. Allen has gone from a raw prospect with all the physical tools to an MVP candidate. Who wouldn't want a guy like that in Watson's ear guiding him over the foreseeable future?

Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator: Roman has done wonders for Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson. He helped Kaepernick reach a Super Bowl with the 49ers and turned Jackson into last season's league MVP. Given his history with athletic quarterbacks, he should be a natural fit and given full consideration.

Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Here's where it gets interesting. Elliott has been the OC (or co-OC) at Clemson since 2015. He has an established relationship with Watson and a proven track record as a coordinator of high-powered offenses in college. He's the type of hire that won't cost as much as some big names will, but might be able to provide the same spark.

Note that all three of these guys are offensive coaches. I fully understand that the defense is an issue and needs help desperately. I also understand that the previous two coaches were offensive guys as well. But Watson is your franchise quarterback and the most attractive piece in a pile of flaming dung that resides on Kirby. If anyone is going to take this job, it'll be because of number four. I know these aren't the sexy names most folks would want to hear, but these names are more realistic as candidates. None of them has head coaching experience. That fact cheapens their price tag and lends itself to them being long shots. A lot of this depends on the general manager hire. We'll get into that in another articel. For right now, dwell on this and let me know what you think.

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