Rapid Reaction: Astros 8, Rangers 2
HOUSTON -- The Astros scored six runs off Rangers starter Matt Harrison, five of them earned, in an 8-2 victory in Houston's American League debut at Minute Maid Park.
What it means: The Rangers lost for the first time in a season opener in five tries, the four previous wins coming at home. The Rangers have lost five straight road season openers, their last win coming against the Angels in Anaheim in 2003.
Berkman's debut: Lance Berkman was 2-for-4 in his first game as a Ranger against his old team of 11-plus years. Berkman had a single during the Rangers' two-run rally in the sixth inning that temporarily put them back in the game.
Power outage: The Rangers didn't produce an extra-base hit in their first game without Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli. Berkman came the closest with line drive into left-center, but Astros center fielder Justin Maxwell did a nice job of holding Berkman to a single.
Harrison up and down: Harrison matched a career high with nine strikeouts and at moments was dazzling in the season opener. But his command of the strike zone left him at times, leading to three walks, all of which came around to score. One came during Houston's two-run fifth inning and was aided by an error by right fielder Nelson Cruz. The others came after Harrison walked two and was replaced by Derek Lowe, who gave up a three-run homer.
The dropsies: First it was Cruz, then Ian Kinsler who couldn't hold onto the ball as the Astros scored twice in the fifth inning. Houston shortstop Ronny Cedeno lined a single to right field and Cruz bobbled the ball and then kicked it away, allowing Brandon Barnes to score all the way from first base. Kinsler dropped the relay throw, which gave Cedeno third base. Cedeno scored on Jose Altuve's single as the Astros took a 4-0 lead.
Lowe point: Ron Washington went to Lowe with two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth and the Astros hanging on to a 4-2 lead. Astros manager Bo Porter countered the right-handed reliever with left-handed pinch hitter Rick Ankiel. Porter got the win as Ankiel ripped a 3-2 slider over the right field fence in his Astros debut against Lowe in his Rangers debut.
Tough opener for Martin: Leonys Martin was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his first opening-day start. He also had a weak ground ball to third base. Martin's second strikeout came on a fastball that wasn't held onto by Astros catcher Jason Castro, but Martin started walking back to the dugout instead of running to first base.
Ortiz makes debut: Reliever Joe Ortiz made his major league debut and allowed a run in the eighth inning. He allowed a triple to Maxwell and an infield single to Matt Dominguez.
Up next: The Rangers are off Monday and will send Yu Darvish to the mound against Houston's Lucas Harrell at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.