On the Opening Night game of the 2013 baseball season, the Houston Astros and their fans really came out in full force. The Astros will need that and probably more if they’re looking for win number two tonight. The Astros are familiar with the Texas Rangers, but when you only play a team six times, you don’t always see their best pitchers. With Houston’s move to the American League, they will now play the Rangers 18 more times for the rest of the season. Now obviously one team won’t win all 19 games (19 if you include Opening Night which as already been played), and with the Astros winning Opening Night, that certainly doesn’t mean they’re the better team or that they’ll win again tonight.
If the Astros are shooting for win number two tonight (and why wouldn’t they be?) they’ll most certainly need a repeat of Opening Night, and a little help from the Rangers down the line.
Usually, the best pitchers from each team will pitch the first game of the season. However, for these two teams, their best pitchers are taking the mound tonight. The Rangers will send out their Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish to face the Astros’ pitcher of the year last season in Lucas Harrell. Last year, Darvish won more games, but Harrell had the better ERA. Among rookies last season, Harrell had the second most strikeouts, and he also had the second most innings pitched. Had he been on a better team, Harrell would have finished with a better record than 11-11. I don’t want to get into an argument about which pitcher is better because both pitchers do their job, and that job is to pitch every fifth day, and pitch well.
With that said, if the Astros are going to win, they will need Harrell to be the better pitcher today. Is that possible? Certainly. Like Bud Norris, Harrell is a fantastic pitcher at home. In his first outing as an Astros pitcher, he threw seven shutout innings and earned the win. The Astros will need more of that tonight if they want win number two. The Astros will also need to be sharp on the defensive end of the game, much like on Sunday where they didn’t have any errors. If you give a potent lineup like the Rangers extra outs, they will use it to their advantage.
The Astros will need to make Darvish throw strikes, and take advantage of him when given the opportunity.