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NYY@HOU: Feldman debuts with scoreless start

 

HOUSTON -- They came out playing loose and free and with nothing to lose. So what if they have the youngest roster in baseball and aren't expected to contend? Who cares that the high-payroll Yankees and retiring legend Derek Jeter were a big part of the attraction?

The Astros made Opening Day under the stars at Minute Maid Park a celebration about them, putting on a clinic in clutch hitting and a display of aggressive baserunning, providing a glimpse of the kind of baseball that second-year manager Bo Porter has been envisioning.

For one magical night, before a sellout crowd of 42,117, the Astros put three consecutive seasons of 100-loss frustrations behind them, riding early homers by Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes and a strong performance from starting pitcher Scott Feldman to beat the Yankees, 6-2, on Tuesday.

"I'll tell you, that's a tremendous job by that group in there," Porter said. "They were focused and really came out with a lot of energy, and were aggressive and were able to give us a good lead. Scotty Feldman, I can't say enough how big of a performance like that is in his first start as an Astro. To give us that kind of performance is tremendous."

Feldman threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his second career Opening Day start, allowing two singles and two walks while striking out three. He joined Roy Oswalt as the only starters in Astros history to pitch at least six scoreless innings in the club's first game of the season.

"Total team effort," Feldman said. "We came out from the get-go and put those runs on the board. [Yanks starter] CC [Sabathia] is a great pitcher, but we were able to get him a little bit early tonight, and that made my job easier."

Feldman was one of several newcomers who contributed mightily in their first time in orange and blue. Guzman's two-run shot capped a four-run first inning, and fellow newcomer Dexter Fowler went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.

With Fowler and Jose Altuve (2-for-4) leading the way, the Astros pushed the tempo on the bases early and forced the Yankees into a pair of errant throws in the first two innings.

"I think that's our game," Fowler said. "You've got to put the pressure on the defense. Bo talks about that all the time, and I think that's what we're going to do. If we see an opportunity, we're going to take it."

The win snapped a 15-game losing streak that closed last season, including a three-game sweep in Houston at the hands of the Yankees to finish the year. It was only the Astros' third win over the Yanks in 16 tries and their first against the Bombers in seven games at home.

"This entire spring, leading up to Opening Day, we built that vibe up where these guys are confident, they're playing with a lot of energy, they're focused and their attention to detail is outstanding," Porter said. "Everybody wants to get off to a good start. I think it's extremely important for us to get off to a good start."

Fowler, one of the Astros' biggest offseason acquisitions, left his mark quickly by hitting doubles in his first two at-bats and scoring each time as the leadoff hitter.

Fowler led off the first with a double onto Tal's Hill against Sabathia, and he scored on a single by Altuve, who swiped second and took third when the pitch went into the dirt. That put him in position to score on a Jason Castro fielder's choice.

"It just happened so quick," Sabathia said. "It just snowballed, and everything happened really quick; next thing I know, I've got Guzman hitting a homer. It is what it is."

Guzman, acquired in a trade with the Padres, crushed the first pitch he saw in an Astros uniform, sending it over the wall in left field for a two-run homer that put his team ahead, 4-0, and stunned the Yankees.

"It's the best feeling I've ever had in my career," Guzman said of his 24th career homer. "The important thing was we won the game."

The good times kept rolling for the Astros when Hoes led off the second inning with a homer just inside the left-field foul pole. One out later, Fowler hit a hustling double to left and scored on Altuve's second RBI single to give Feldman a 6-0 lead.

"It was surreal," Hoes said of his homer. "It's something you dream of, something you lay in bed at night and you hope could happen. Myself, I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball."

Feldman was pulled from the game with two outs in the seventh after he hit Brett Gardner with a pitch and walked Brian Roberts to load the bases, and he received a rousing ovation from the crowd. Lefty Kevin Chapman came on to retire Kelly Johnson for the final out and preserve Houston's shutout bid.

There were some tense moments in the eighth when the Yanks pulled to within 6-2 on consecutive RBI singles by Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira, but Chad Qualls got Alfonso Soriano to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to keep the lead safe. Matt Albers worked a scoreless ninth.

"I think that's what we want to do, is play hard and show the city of Houston we can be a team to be proud of every night," Albers said. "We're not going to sit here and say we're going to win this number of games, but we want to play hard every night, and we have each other's backs. It's a good start."

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