The Houston Astros will kick off their 49th season of Major League Baseball this afternoon as they take on the reigning NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen's Bank Park. The game will start at 12:05 CDT and be broadcast on ESPN by Sean McDonough, Aaron Boone, and (sigh) Rick Sutcliffe.
Remember when the Astros kicked off the season last year by facing Tim Lincecum? That was fair, right? Well it only gets better this season! Brett Myers will head to the mound to make his first opening day start for the Astros, and his opposite number will be none other than reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.
The Astros will likely start a lineup close to what they did in Wednesday's exhibition against the Red Sox, which means Michael Bourn will lead off, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee will bat 3-4, and Humberto Quintero will get the start at catcher. Angel Sanchez will be playing shortstop for Clint Barmes, who won't be due back until the end of the month after breaking a bone in his hand on a hit by pitch.
The Phillies will be down a few key cogs in their lineup, as Chase Utley and Dominic Brown will both start the year on the DL. Wilson Valdez will probably get the start at second base, while Ben Francisco will fill in for Brown in right field. Ex-Astros closer Brad Lidge is also on the DL, which means Jose Contreras will likely be the Phillies closer in the interim.
Last season, Halladay went 1-1 against the Astros with a 1.69 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 16 innings. Myers got a win in his only career start against the Phillies, going seven innings and striking out nine.