ARLINGTON -- The World Series Most Valuable Player picked up where he left off -- and began -- last season.Right fielder George Springer, who drilled five home runs in the World Series win over the Dodgers last fall, socked the third pitch thrown by Rangers starter Cole Hamels on Thursday
ARLINGTON -- The World Series Most Valuable Player picked up where he left off -- and began -- last season.
Right fielder George Springer, who drilled five home runs in the World Series win over the Dodgers last fall, socked the third pitch thrown by Rangers starter Cole Hamels on Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park into the right-field seats for his second consecutive leadoff homer to start a season. The homer was the 100th of his career.
The Astros never relinquished their early lead, and took the season opener, 4-1.
"It's a good day for us to get started on the right foot," said Springer, who is the first player in Major League history to hit Opening Day leadoff homers in consecutive seasons.
Springer said teammate Josh Reddick told him before the game that he thought no one had started a season with back-to-back leadoff homers and told Springer that he couldn't do it. When Springer was rounding second after his 364-foot blast, he was smiling toward the third-base dugout while Reddick "went nuts."
"I kind of laughed it off like 'Yeah, all right, cool,'" Springer said. "I'm just trying to hit the thing and slow [myself] down. I hit it and I was rounding second, and I looked over to Red and he was going absolutely berserk in the dugout. It's crazy, it's cool, but I'm happy to have the win."
Reddick wasn't 100 percent sure no player had accomplished the feat, but he wanted to challenge Springer nonetheless.
"I went nuts in the dugout," Reddick said. "Not only that, it's his 100th career homer. It's a big milestone for any guy in the big leagues to make that. Very excited for him, and very excited for the team as well to get us on a good start."
Springer was able to retrieve the ball from a young Rangers fan in the right-field seats in exchange for a signed bat and ball, and spent some time after the game speaking with him and his parents outside the Astros clubhouse.
"He didn't have to do that," Springer said. "It's awesome of him to do it. I'm happy to do it. It's weird, it's cool. I didn't really think anything of it, didn't really know that happened. Like I said, I'm happy to set the tone right there for our team. For us to come out and play that way is absolutely huge."
Springer hit a career-high 34 home runs last season, all from the leadoff spot. He led off a game with a homer a franchise-record nine times in 2017, the first time against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park.
Since being moved to the leadoff spot on May 24, 2016, Springer is hitting .274 with an .859 OPS, 55 homers and 143 RBIs in 258 regular-season games.
"He sets the tone for us offensively," third baseman Alex Bregman said. "It's fun to watch and fun to hit behind him."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.