x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

MLB: New-look Astros kick off campaign with win over Texas Rangers

Houston marked their switch to the American League after 50 years in the National League with an 8-2 win over their rivals in front of an excited home crowd.

Houston's Ronny Cedeno high fives Rick Ankiel after the final out against the Texas Rangers.
Houston's Ronny Cedeno high fives Rick Ankiel after the final out against the Texas Rangers.

The Houston Astros made their leap to the American League in some style, upstaging the Texas Rangers 8-2 to successfully open their new era in the Major League season-opener.

After spending a half-century in the National League, the Astros switched to the AL West this year to give baseball an even 15 teams in both leagues.

The change is a fresh start for the Astros, who are coming off consecutive 100-loss seasons but are hoping to redefine the franchise with a new manager, Bo Porter, and new uniforms.

The Rangers, too, unveiled a new-look roster without former MVP Josh Hamilton, catcher Mike Napoli and infielder Michael Young.

In front of an excited home Houston crowd at Minute Maid Park, the Astros made the most of their moment in the spotlight as they got their season underway a day ahead of the majority of teams.

Justin Maxwell and Rick Ankiel led the offence as the Astros opened the season in impressive fashion.

Maxwell had two runs and two RBIs on two hits, both triples, while Ankiel homered and drove in three, to back up 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball from Bud Norris. Erik Bedard tossed 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the save.

Nelson Cruz was two-for-three with an RBI for the Rangers, while Lance Berkman had two hits and a run.

Derek Lowe had just entered the game in relief of Matt Harrison, who suffered a tough start after his career-best 2012 season earned him a five-year extension with Texas.

"To come out with a win is perfect," Carlos Pena, the Astros designated hitter, said afterwards.

"To be part of it is really cool. To play our rivals here in Texas and to come out on top today, it's a treat."

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