In a few days, Philip Humber will appreciate the moment. Standing at the center of Minute Maid Park. Facing the Rangers while wearing a home Astros uniform. Throwing 5 2/3 resilient innings and allowing only one earned run in his first start for the franchise he grew up loving as a kid.
Humber did his part Wednesday, but the rest of the Astros didn't. And with his new club being shut out for the second consecutive contest and striking out an MLB-record 43 times in a season-opening three-game series, the inner pride Humber felt on the mound was dulled by the Astros' humbling 4-0 fall to the Rangers.
"There was a lot more in my mind than trying to take it all in at this point," said Humber, who was part of Rice's 2003 national championship team.
Humber acknowledged his repertoire was slightly off Wednesday. He gave up five hits, loaded the bases in the sixth, and was hit hard regularly by the Rangers. But he often outsmarted his opponents, pitching around a slower-than-normal fastball to keep the Astros within reach.
"Just constantly trying to change speeds and change locations against a lineup like that," said Humber, who took the loss. "You're going to have to do that any time. But especially when you don't have your best stuff out there."