Springer leads off for Astros with homer


Because of Joey Gallo's enormous power, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch used a unique tactic to ensure the Texas Rangers slugger wouldn't get on base. Astros Opening Day pitcher Justin Verlander will face a Rangers lineup that looks nearly identical to last year's - a lineup that was top-10 in runs scored and No. 3 in home runs.

Verlander is pitching on opening day for the 10th time in 11 seasons.

Among the Astros' everyday players are reigning American League MVP Award victor Jose Altuve, World Series MVP George Springer and budding superstar shortstop Carlos Correa.

Rangers: Four pitchers started the season on the 10-day disabled list: lefty Martin Perez (recovering from right elbow surgery) and right-handers Tony Barnette (lower back strain), Tim Lincecum (blister on right middle finger) and Ricardo Rodriguez (right biceps tendinitis). "There's plenty incentive to want to try to beat up on Texas, that's for sure".

Game two of 162 begins tonight, when the Astros send Dallas Keuchel to the hill.

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Ty Blach pitched five shutout innings, and Joe Panik provided the only run of the game with a fifth-inning home run as San Francisco ended Clayton Kershaw's Opening Day winning streak with a victory at Los Angeles.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said the message to his team is to get back to the style of baseball the team played when it won back-to-back division titles. Cole Hamels, who has become the de facto ace of this team, will get a chance to measure up against one of the most unsafe lineups in the majors.

There will be no love lost between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros when the Lone Star State rivals meet Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas on opening day in Major League Baseball. "I'm excited to be here for a whole season". He is 252 short of that going into this season after being limited previous year by a strained right oblique. In his career, Hamels is 7-4 with a 4.19 ERA and 97 strikeouts against Houston. He is 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his past five starts against Houston.

The Rangers aren't going to be great, but they could be good enough. "We look forward to working with the Texas Lottery again in 2018".