Friday, April 04, 2014
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Astros batter Yankees, Sabathia in opener

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[April 04, 2014]  HOUSTON  If Astros management could have authored a script featuring the three offseason additions in the Houston lineup Tuesday night, that fictional tale might have paled in comparison to what happened at Minute Maid Park.

Right-hander Scott Feldman carried a shutout into the seventh inning of his Astros debut, and center fielder Dexter Fowler and first baseman Jesus Guzman delivered the power in Houston's 6-2, season-opening victory over the New York Yankees and left-hander CC Sabathia.

Feldman (1-0) became the first Astros pitcher to work six-plus shutout innings in a season opener since Roy Oswalt in 2006, departing with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. He allowed two hits and two walks while hitting two batters and recording three strikeouts.

His final walk, to Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts with two on in the seventh inning, ended his night, but left-handed reliever Kevin Chapman temporarily preserved the shutout by getting third baseman Kelly Johnson to tap into an inning-ending fielder's choice groundout.

Fowler doubled and scored in each of his first two at-bats, and Guzman slapped a two-run home run that capped the Astros' four-run first inning. Fowler was acquired in an offseason trade with the Colorado Rockies. Guzman, like Feldman, joined Houston as a free agent.

"All those guys contributed," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Dexter Fowler started it off with the deep ball to center field, Guzie (Guzman) with the big two-run homer, and again, Scott Feldman was tremendous."


Feldman, who split last season between the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles before signing a three-year, $30 million contract with the Astros, tossed 102 pitches, 66 for strikes. He skillfully worked both sides of the plate and did so at an especially effective pace, keeping the Yankees' lineup off-balance and his defense on its toes.

"I was just trying to mix it up, and I saw they were being pretty aggressive," Feldman said. "I just tried to throw them all (his pitches) and hopefully they would make some outs. Luckily more times than not, they hit them right at guys or we were positioned in the right spots."

The Yankees finally broke through for two runs in the eighth, with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (walk) and shortstop Derek Jeter (single) scoring when catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira stroked back-to-back RBI singles off Astros right-hander Chad Qualls.

Qualls snuffed the rally by inducing an inning-ending, double-play grounder off the bat of designated hitter Alfonso Soriano. Right-hander Matt Albers followed by working a scoreless ninth inning to close out the win.

Sabathia (0-1) logged six innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six. Following an uncharacteristically ineffective 2013 campaign, Sabathia was seeking a rousing start to this season.

"It got out of hand early," Sabathia said. "I mean I've got 34, hopefully more, starts left. I'm definitely not going to pitch like I did tonight in the first two innings. I know I can pitch. I love to get guys out. I feel great, so no, I'm not going to beat myself up over this."

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The Astros pounced on Sabathia with haste. Fowler opened the first inning with a double to center, and two batters later, second baseman Jose Altuve hit an RBI single for a 1-0 Houston lead.

With Altuve on third after a stolen base and a Sabathia wild pitch, catcher Jason Castro reached on a run-scoring fielder's choice. Guzman then made his first at-bat with Houston memorable, turning on the first pitch for a homer to left field, doubling the lead to 4-0.

Right fielder L.J. Hoes opened the second with a homer to left before Fowler and Altuve duplicated their first-inning efforts, with Altuve adding another RBI single after a Fowler double. Sabathia settled in with the deficit at 6-0, but Feldman was too sharp to allow the Yankees hope.

"They came out swinging," said Jeter, who played the final Opening Day of his career as he heads toward retirement. "You've got to give them credit. They didn't seem nervous or anything. They came out and swung the bat well."

NOTES: Yankees INF Eduardo Nunez was designated for assignment, giving the club 10 days to place on waivers, trade, release or outright him to the minor leagues and off the 40-man roster. Nunez, 26, produced a .267/.313/.379 line in 270 games with the Yankees, whose late-season acquisition of INF Brendan Ryan in 2013 made Nunez expendable. ... The Astros featured nine players making their debut on an active Opening Day roster: LHP Kevin Chapman, RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Fields, OF Robbie Grossman, OF L.J. Hoes, OF Marc Krauss, LHP Dallas Keuchel, LHP Brett Oberholtzer and SS Jonathan Villar. ... Of the nine players in the Yankees' batting order, only LF Brett Gardner returned from the 2013 Opening Day lineup, and he was in a different position. Gardner was the Yankees' starting center fielder last season.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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