Houston Astros: Justin Verlander knows he’s still got it and it showed

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, in the usual fashion, opened up the season for the team showing that he’s still got it and there’s plenty left.

The Houston Astros have finally started their season after a four-month delay and things are looking good for the team to contend for yet another World Series championship.  The field still remains quite crowded among contenders but the Houston Astros will continue to be in the conversation, even as time wears on.

The debut of the team at Minute Maid Park — without fans present but spiritual cardboard cutouts of them — was quite a show for the fans despite the cavernous look of the ballpark amid this global pandemic that we’re all dealing with at the moment.

The field was dressed up, the red, white and blue banners hung on the overlays of the upper deck and the piped-in sound of the fans almost made it like the real thing until the pulled-back camera shots showed all of the empty seats in what would normally be packed on a Friday night at this time of the year.

We’ll have to sit this season out and hope that we can return back to the stadium in 2021; but nonetheless, it’s great to see some live baseball for a change.

Houston Astros’ ace and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander took the bump for his third-straight season opener for the team and he pretty much turned in the game that we expected out of him.

He minimized the harm, stopped any bleeding and remained in control throughout the duration of his start.  It goes to show how lucky we are to have him with a leader that doesn’t get rattled but remains cool no matter the circumstances.

He was throwing fastballs in the mid- to upper-90s, definitely indicating that the groin injury that had been troubling him back in Spring Training is completely behind him with the surgery that took place right about when things got shut down in March.

We were wondering then if he’d start the opener just as we were now but J.V. made sure that he was ready to get to work and lead this team on a perilous journey to get their second World Series title.

Outside of a cookie that he dropped for a Kyle Lewis homer that hit the train tracks of the ballpark train at 438 feet and a solo shot by Kyle Seager — let’s just not have him pitch to anybody named Kyle for the rest of the season — he was as rock-solid as an ace would be in their situation.

Verlander struck out seven, walked one batter and allowed three hits en route to a quality 6.0-

inning start.

Chris Devenski, Blake Taylor and Enoli Paredes closed out the game and kept things under control even though it seemed that the Seattle Mariners had lost it at the bottom of the 5th inning when Jose Altuve singled to J.P. Crawford, scoring Aledmys Diaz.

Alex Bregman then got in on the party, being able to get Martin Maldonado to score with his single to right field, which included an error credited to Seager that eventually pushed things up to five runs in the 5th inning for the Houston Astros.

They didn’t look back after that and the Houston Astros decisively got their first win of the season, defeating the Mariners 8-2.

With all things considered, this season will help Verlander with his durability at the ripe age of 37-years-old.

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Let’s hope for the best and I’m sure he’ll be in the discussion as being the best pitcher in the AL through this 60-game journey for the franchise.

It’s time to get it going and I’m hoping for the best…