With a Bud Norris strike, the 2013 MLB season had officially begun. With a Mitch Moreland groundout, the first game of the season was officially in the books.
This was a historic day for the Astros due to their move to the American League. It started out on a moving note, as the franchise honored those fallen during the Newtown, Conn. shootings.
Houston Texans defensive end and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt topped off the pregame celebrations by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Once the game started, the fans in Houston were in store for a treat. Norris threw a perfect first inning and went scoreless through his first 17 outs, leading the Astros to a quality pitching outing.
Matt Harrison of the Texas Rangers matched him pitch for pitch through the first three innings, as he stifled Houston's every attempt.
During the bottom of the fourth inning, however, Houston struck for the first run of the 2013 season. Brett Wallace connected with a one-out single and the recently signed Carlos Pena brought him to second with a two-out single.
The next batter up was Justin Maxwell, who cleared the bases with a two-run triple.
After Norris pitched a perfect top of the fifth, Brandon Barnes got on base with a one-out walk. Ronny Cedeno proceeded to knock a single to right field, but on an error by Nelson Cruz he moved to second and Barnes managed to score.
Suddenly, it was a 3-0 Houston lead.
The next batter up was second baseman Jose Altuve, who hit a 1-2 pitch for an RBI single. Norris now had a 4-0 lead to work with.
After Ian Kinsler led off the top of the sixth with a walk, Lance Berkman moved him to third with a one-out single. With two outs, Daniel Murphy hit a 2-0 pitch from Norris for an RBI single.
Cruz made up for his error by driving in a second run to make it 4-2.
During the bottom of the sixth, the Astros put two runners on base with two walks by Maxwell and Matt Dominguez. For the first time, we then saw a ball fly over the fences.
Rick Ankiel took a 3-2 pitch over the right-field wall for a three-run blast. He made it 7-2 and put the Astros firmly in control.
One more run came on a Dominguez infield single to make it 8-2.
With Erik Bedard on the mound for the final three innings, the Astros secured their first win as a member of the American League. Norris moves to 1-0, Harrison to 0-1 and Bedard secured his first career save.
Houston is now in sole possession of first place in the AL West—it's the little things.
Not only was this the Houston Astros' first win as a member of the American League, but it marked their 4,000th win as a franchise. As fate would have it, they made history by starting a new chapter in their franchise's storied history.
Bud Norris is the pitcher credited with No. 4,000.
That's a graphic that Astros fans are likely to cherish.
Not only did Houston secure its 4,000th win ever, but it earned its first win of the season. This has the Astros as the only team in MLB history to stake a specific claim.
Something that Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports reminded us of:
Did you know that the Houston Astros are the only undefeated franchise in American League history?— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) April 1, 2013
Cherish this moment, Astros fans.
The history continues here, as Houston saw an individual achieve a feat that has been rare at best. In fact, it was the first time someone hit a home run in their first Astros at-bat since last April.
Rick Ankiel is the lucky hombre:
Ankiel becomes the first Astro to homer in his first AB with the club since Justin Maxwell on 4/9 vs. ATL.— Houston Astros (@astros) April 1, 2013
Could this be the rise of Ankiel's career as a hitter?
Whether this will be Ankiel's shining year is unclear. What is understood, however, is that Houston began this season in the proper manner.
The Bo Porter era has gotten off to a wonderful start.