HOUSTON – Nobody thought it would start like this.
The Houston Astros have the lowest payroll in the game, while the Texas Rangers have been to the playoffs the past three seasons and have World Series aspirations.
But, as Rangers manager Ron Washington says, anything can happen on a given night. And the Astros played better on Opening Day, rolling to an 8-2 victory over the Rangers on Sunday night at Minute Maid Park.
Rangers starter Matt Harrison took the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.
The Astros scored two runs in each the fourth and fifth innings to take a 4-0 lead, but the biggest blow came in the sixth.
After the Rangers had cut the deficit in half in the top of the sixth, Harrison issued a one-out walk to Justin Maxwell. He retired Jason Castro on a fly out for the second out, but then issued another walk to Matt Dominguez.
That ended Harrison’s night as Derek Lowe came in relief. Lowe couldn’t retire pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel, though, as Ankiel swatted a three-run homer into the right-field seats to put Houston up 7-2.
The Astros scored another run in the eighth off Rangers rookie reliever Joe Ortiz, making his big-league debut.
-- Drew Davison