Gerrit Cole pitched a gem in his Houston Astros debut on Sunday, leading the MLB World Series champions to an 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers.
Cole, who was acquired via trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason, allowed just one run with 11 strikeouts.
He gave up just two hits and walked three batters while showing great command on his secondary pitches.
With Cole off to a solid start, the Astros now feature three ace-calibre pitchers at the top of their rotation. Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel had already pitched, but the former was the most intriguing Astros starter to begin the season.
The Astros (3-1) won their first World Series title in franchise history last season. Again favourites to contend, Houston were helped offensively Sunday by Evan Gattis, who collected three hits, three RBIs and a run scored.
Jose Altuve also had three hits and two runs scored. Carlos Correa added two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Rangers slugger Joey Gallo bashed his first home run of the season, but Texas could not find a pitcher able to contain the Astros.
SMOAK BLASTS GRAND SLAM
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak went three for four with two home runs and six RBIs in a 7-4 win over the New York Yankees. Smoak enjoyed a breakout season last term hitting 38 home runs and appears poised to grow on his success.
ORIOLES BLANKED BY NATS
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones went 0 for four with two strikeouts in a 7-0 loss against the Minnesota Twins. Jones hit a game-winning home run in Baltimore's opening game, but he only has one hit on the season. The Orioles fell to 1-2 after Kevin Gausman allowed six earned runs in four innings.
Extra innings and poor pitching performances have plagued the Chicago Cubs early this season, dropping two of their first four games to the mass-selling Miami Marlins. Chicago lost 6-0 after Jose Quintana allowed six earned runs in six innings.
BERRIOS TOSSES FIRST-CAREER SHUTOUT
Jose Berrios allowed just three hits with six strikeouts and one walk in the Twins' crushing win.
First career shutout on the line, José Berríos brought the filth. pic.twitter.com/QZBYDjalVk— MLB (@MLB) April 1, 2018
Minnesota Twins 7-0 Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 7-4 New York Yankees
Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 Detroit Tigers
Pittsburgh Pirates 8-6 Detroit Tigers
Miami Marlins 6-0 Chicago Cubs
Boston Red Sox 2-1 Tampa Bay Rays
St Louis Cardinals 5-1 New York Mets
Houston Astros 8-2 Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels 7-4 Oakland Athletics
Washington Nationals 6-5 Cincinnati Reds
Seattle Mariners 5-4 Cleveland Indians
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 San Francisco Giants
Kansas City Royals-Chicago White Sox (postponed)
CARDINALS AT BREWERS
This National League Central rivalry gets kicked off between two postseason hopefuls on Monday. The Milwaukee Brewers improved their offense this winter and newcomer Christian Yelich racked up five hits on Saturday. The Cardinals also made positive moves on offense, but pitching concerns still plague them. Though early in the season, this series could tell where both teams are headed this year.