TAMPA, Florida – Happy Opening Day! The sounds of baseball are back as your Houston Astros look to "take it back."
The Astros open the 2019 season in St. Petersburg, Florida, with a four-game series against the Tamp Bay Rays.
Thursday's opener starts at 3 p.m. Houston time.
Here are the keys to the game:
Thursday is a battle of Cy Young winner Blake Snell against Astros ace Justin Verlander. The Astros need to get to Snell early and not let him get comfortable and into his zone. Verlander needs to establish his fastball and work the hitters to keep them off balance with his curveball and slider.
One of the most potent lineups in baseball needs to be aggressive at the plate against Snell. The top of the order -- Springer, Bregman and Altuve -- need to set the tone.
Game 1 of 162
Winning on Opening Day is always nice, but not critical. The Astros are built to win big in 2019 and a win Thursday would set send a message that they are ready to win a second World Series championship in three years.
As we previously reported, Carlos Correa will not start in the season opener.
Let's play ball!