Astros kick off the 2013 season with a victory

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The Houston Astros, playing their inaugural game as a member of the American League, defeated the Texas Rangers 8-2 on Opening Day in Major League Baseball.

The Astros got on the board first in the fourth inning when Justin Maxwell tripled to left field on a fly ball that bounced high off of the wall in front of the Crawford Boxes, scoring two runs. They padded their lead to 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Ronny Cedeno and Jose Altuve.

Astros starter Bud Norris shut the Rangers out for five innings, but slowed down in the sixth as his fastball velocity dipped below 90 MPH. David Murphy and Nelson Cruz both hit RBI singles with two outs, bringing the game back to 4-2 and chasing Norris in the process. Erik Bedard came in to clean up the inning.

Rick Ankiel put the game out of reach with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, pinch-hitting for right fielder Brandon Barnes. Justin Maxwell and Matt Dominguez had both reached base on walks, forcing Rangers starter Matt Harrison out of the game. Derek Lowe took the hill in relief, but Ankiel promptly served Lowe’s 3-2 slider into the seats in right field, putting the Astros up 7-2.

After Justin Maxwell’s second triple of the game in the bottom of the eighth (the first two-triple game on Opening Day since Tony Pena, Jr. with the Royals in 2007), the Astros added another run with two outs when Dominguez singled two second baseman Ian Kinsler, who had to range far to his right for a ground ball with lots of topspin.

Lefty Erik Bedard threw three and a third scoreless innings in relief, earning a save under the three-inning rule — the first save of his career. Today’s victory also marks the first victory of Bo Porter’s managerial career.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. goes 4-for-4 with walk-off homer in first game of Double-A doubleheader

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. has gotten a lot of press lately and for good reason. He has absolutely torched Double-A pitching so far this season, entering Sunday’s doubleheader batting .407/.456/.676 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 170 plate appearances.

Guerrero stayed hot, going 4-for-4 in the first game of the doubleheader, ending it in the bottom of the seventh inning — doubleheaders in the minors can be two seven-inning affairs — with a two-run homer.

Guerrero started off the back end of the doubleheader with an RBI single in the first inning, so he’s overall 5-for-5 with four RBI on the day as of this writing. He also now has 21 multi-hit games out of 39 total games this season. Today’s performance marked his second four-hit game; his other one occurred last Wednesday.

MLB Pipeline ranks Guerrero as the No. 1 prospect in the Jays’ system and No. 2 overall in baseball behind the Braves’ Ronald Acuña. The Jays may be forced to summon Guerrero to the big leagues if he keeps hitting like this. In a similar situation, the Nationals promoted hot-hitting 19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto earlier today after just 35 plate appearances at Double-A, skipping Triple-A entirely.