Astros Defeat Rangers 8-2 in AL Debut to Open Baseball Season

The Houston Astros won their first game as an American League team, beating the Texas Rangers 8-2 to open Major League Baseball’s regular season.

Rick Ankiel had a pinch-hit three-run home run last night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, while Justin Maxwell had two triples and drove in two runs for the Astros, who switched to the AL in the offseason after 51 years in the National League.

Bo Porter had a winning debut as manager for the Astros, who had baseball’s worst record the past two seasons, including a 55-107 mark last year. The Astros’ estimated Opening Day payroll of $18.7 million is the lowest in Major League Baseball since the 2006 Florida Marlins, according to ESPN.

Houston starting pitcher Bud Norris allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win and Erik Bedard threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the save as the Astros opened the season with a victory for the first time since 2006.

Houston is the first major-league team to change leagues since 1998, when the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the NL Central division from the AL Central.

The Rangers, who lost 2010 AL Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton during the offseason along with Michael Young and Mike Napoli, were limited to six hits. Texas scored both of its runs in the sixth inning on singles by David Murphy and Nelson Cruz.

Baseball has 12 Opening Day games scheduled for today, starting with the New York Yankees hosting the Boston Red Sox and Miami Marlins visiting the Washington Nationals. Both games are scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. Eastern time.

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