I’m not trying to be a homer, but I believe the Houston Astros can take game one of the series against the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are no slouch. I’m not trying to dog the Rangers, or belittle their accomplishments. They’re a good team, and probably a playoff team, but the Astros still have a chance to beat them tonight. But for the Astros to shock the baseball world, Bud Norris will be key. When I say shock, I don’t mean make the playoffs this season, I just mean win on Opening Night. Lets be honest, no one believes the Astros can beat the Rangers tonight. I don’t even think Astros fans believe that, at least not most of them. But I do, and here is why.
Bud Norris was an absolute beast at home last season. He finished the year off with four wins and only one loss in eleven games. Sure, he didn’t get a decision in six of those games, but the Astros offense was clearly at fault in those games. At home, Norris was completely dominant, striking out three more batters per walk and two more batters per nine innings. Besides that, he posted a 1.71 ERA when pitching at Minute Maid Park. He really made the batters earn their way on base, and that didn’t happen very often. At home last season, he averaged less than one person on base per inning. That is pretty nice stat. If he can do that, he will be able to shut the Rangers potent lineup down for seven innings, and I will stand behind that. I’ll give Norris seven innings of one run ball in his first start of the season, and he will propel the Astros to an Opening Night victory.
The Astros’ offense will also be a major key if they want to beat the Rangers tomorrow.
Last season, the Astros got off to a pretty nice start and looked as if they weren’t going to finish dead last in the NL Central. Then June showed up. If the Astros do happen to come out victorious tomorrow night, not only the pitching will have to be top notch, but the Astros will also have to get some quality at bats from that lineup, and will also need some timely hitting. With Jose Altuve leading off, Brett Wallace hitting second, and Chris Carter probably hitting third, the Astros may be able to get some runs on the board early. With Wallace hitting in front of the Astros’ most dangerous hitter in Carter, he will see some pitches. Especially if Altuve, the hit machine, is on base. Wallace is no slouch at the plate either. He has had a few down years, but after changing his stance, he is looking to prove the doubters wrong this season. If Wallace can have some good at bats in front of Carter and hopefully end up on base, the Astros may see some early runs.
The Astros will need to jump on Matt Harrison who has never beaten them and has a 5.04 ERA against the boys from Houston. If they can do that, the Astros will be successful tonight.