That gave Houston a 2-0 lead. The Astros would not trail in the game. Maxwell finished 2 for 3 with two triples, two RBIs and a walk. He also had a couple of highlight reel-worthy catches to prevent hits.
“Justin Maxwell had a couple highlight plays,” Porter said. “It was fun to watch. A lot of times people get caught up in the numbers (this spring). But, he was fourth on the team on hard-hit balls. Batting average can look one way, but if a guy is putting in quality at-bats, squaring the ball up, from a manager’s standpoint, that’s what we’re looking at. It was great to see Justin perform like he did tonight.”
Carlos Pena, signed to a one-year, $2.9 million contract last winter, became Houston’s first-ever everyday designated hitter when he got the start Sunday, hitting fourth. Pena was 1 for 3 in the game with two strikeouts and a run scored.
Pena was one of a number of low-cost moves Houston made in the offseason that paid off in the team’s home opener.
Another of those signings was Rick Ankiel, who parlayed a non-roster invite to spring training into a spot on Houston’s 25-man roster.
Ankiel didn’t start because the Rangers threw lefty Matt Harrison, but he did have one of the biggest hits the night, crushing an 82-MPH Derek Lowe slider to right field for a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the sixth.
After the game, Ankiel talked about what he was thinking about as he rounded the bases.
“I’ve always said pitching and hitting home runs are the pinnacle of baseball,” Ankiel said. “What a moment. It’s something I’ll never forget. I hit it high, but to myself, I was like, ‘I got that.’ It was indescribable. It’s a rollercoaster and a high that you don’t want to end. I’ll never forget it.”