Springer leads off for Astros with homer

Nomar Mazara right fielder for the Texas Rangers

Nomar Mazara right fielder for the Texas Rangers. Shutterstock

And this time, they had Justin Verlander for opening day.

"It's weird, it's cool", Springer said about his unique place in baseball history.

To me, this is another example of how some MLB teams will keep innovating their defensive positioning, even if the league considers the farcical notion of banning the shift.

Springer hit 34 homers during the regular season a year ago for the Astros, all from the leadoff spot.

Keuchel (0-1) allowed seven hits and three runs in six innings for the defending champs, who had a five-game winning streak against Texas after taking the season opener. He hit a 2-0 pitch off lefty Cole Hamels (0-1) into the right-field seats.

"Through the course of spring training, I've prepared well for the season", Keuchel said. "Very excited for him, very exciting for the team as well to get us off to a good start".

Fister (1-0), who was acquired by the Rangers as a free agent in the offseason, struck out three and walked three in besting Houston's 1A ace Dallas Keuchel.

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Verlander is now 10-1 in the regular season since being acquired by the Astros from Detroit in a trade-deadline deal on August 31.

What you can't see on paper, though - the swagger of a team that is defending its franchise's first world championship, the quiet, bubbling vitriol between in-state rivals, in part because of the Rangers' declining to accommodate the Astros in scheduling games past year post-Harvey - those were all evident, too. Keuchel pitched on opening day two straight seasons before Thursday. Relievers have allowed two hits and one run with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. "But he was able to settle in and mix".

Mazara, who had one homer in 123 at-bats against left-handers last season, went deep in his first lefty-lefty matchup this season.

"I actually didn't look back before the Gallo at-bat, I didn't know that we had a fourth outfielder", Verlander said.

Elvis Andrus led off the ninth against Ken Giles, the third Astros reliever, with a double. Andrus scored on a wild pitch and the Rangers avoided being shut out in a home opener for the first time since 1992.

Remember, Astros fans. The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he never got clarification on what the Rangers were looking for on the review of Odor's errant throw in the sixth.

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