How have Astros fared in home openers at Minute Maid Park?
HOUSTON – The Astros will play their home opener Friday against the Oakland A's. It will be the 'Stros 20th season playing at the ballpark on Crawford Street.
The Juice Box has been through four names since it opened on April 7, 2000. Initially known as Enron Field, it has also been called The Ballpark at Union Station and Astros Field. The stadium has a capacity of 41,168.
Since the stadium opened, 15 out of 20 seasons have started with an Opening Day game at Minute Maid Park. The Astros have started their season on the road in two of the last three seasons.
Here's a look at how the Astros have fared in home openers since the ballpark opened.
Houston started the season on the road in Pittsburgh this season, winning two out of three from the Pirates before coming home to open their new park. The first game the Astros played at Minute Maid Park, then known as Enron Field, was on April 7, 2000, which was a Friday. Houston lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1. Octavio Dotel started the game for Houston, pitching six innings and allowing two runs. Randy Wolf tossed seven innings of one-run ball to lead the Phillies to victory.
In 2001, the Astros opened their season at home on April 3 against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the first of seven straight seasons the team would play Opening Day at home. Houston won 11-3 thanks to six RBIs from Daryle Ward and six solid innings pitched by Scott Elarton. The Astros won the National League Central Division title, but were swept in the playoffs, losing in the National League Division Series to the Braves.
Houston began the season campaign in Houston for the second straight season. Wade Miller was tagged for seven runs in four-plus innings on April 2, 2002. Houston lost to Milwaukee 9-3. Lance Berkman homered among three hits and Craig Biggio hit a double, but struck out three times. As a team, the 'Stros struck out 13 times.
On April 1, 2003, Roy Oswalt made his first of eight straight Opening Day starts. The Astros beat the Rockies 10-4. Oswalt spun seven innings of one-run ball. He threw 96 pitches and struck out one batter. The 'Stros got three RBIs each from Geoff Blum and Jeff Bagwell, who both homered. Jeff Kent also accounted for a longball. Houston scored its 10 runs on 14 hits against Rockies' pitching. Five Astros hitters had multiple hits.
The 2004 Astros opened the season at home against the San Francisco Giants on April 5. The Giants scored four runs in the final two innings to steal the win. Oswalt cruised through seven innings before running into trouble in the eighth inning, when he allowed three runs. Houston lost 5-4. Oswalt's final line: 7.1 innings, nine hits, four earned runs and four strikeouts. Dotel gave up one run in the top of the ninth inning and the 'Stros weren't able to score in the home half. This team lost the NL Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
Houston lost its second consecutive Opening Day game in 2005 on April 5 against the Cardinals, which was a rematch of the previous season's NLCS. The Cardinals won 7-3. Oswalt was the losing pitcher for Houston, allowing three first inning runs and three sixth inning runs. Biggio, Jason Lane, Willy Tavares and Orlando Palmeiro hit doubles in the game. Biggio accounted for all three RBIs in the game. This Houston team was swept in the World Series by the Chicago White Sox. It was the first World Series appearance for the franchise.
Oswalt was brilliant in the 2006 season opener on April 3. The Astros beat the Florida Marlins 1-0. The Wizard spun eight innings of shutout ball while striking out eight on 91 pitches. Brad Lidge closed the door in the ninth. Biggio scored the only run of the game on a wild pitch in the seventh inning. This 'Stros team was the first of nine straight teams to miss the playoffs.
In the first extra innings Opening Day game at Minute Maid Park, the Astros lost to the Pirates 4-2 on April 2, 2007. Houston had a 2-0 lead until Pittsburgh scored one run in the eighth and one in the ninth to force extras. Lidge blew the save. Oswalt tossed seven and two-thirds innings of one-run ball. Chad Qualls was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs in the top of the 10th inning. Houston couldn't muster a single base runner in the final two innings of the game.
Houston opened the 2008 season in San Diego for a four-game series before visiting the Chicago Cubs for a three-game set. The team then came home to open the home slate against the Cardinals on April 7, 2008. The Astros won the game 5-3, thanks to a walk-off, two-run homer from Miguel Tejada. The Astros had a 3-0 lead heading to the ninth inning, but Jose Valverde allowed two singles, a double and two walks, allowing the Cardinals to tie the game.
Houston returned home for the season opener in 2009. On April 6, the 'Stros fell to the Cubs 4-2. Oswalt was strapped with the loss after pitching seven innings of three-run ball, striking out two. The Astros mustered eight hits, all of which were singles. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano homered for the Cubbies.
The Astros opened the 2010 season on April 5 against the Giants at Minute Maid Park. Brett Myers took the loss as the Astros fell to the Marlins 5-2. Tim Lincecum earned the win for San Francisco after hurling seven shutout innings, striking out seven Houston hitters. Blum and J.R. Towles doubled for Houston in the losing effort.
Houston opened the 2011 campaign with three games in Philadelphia followed by three in Cincinnati. The Astros' home opener was played on April 8, 2011, against the Florida Marlins. Houston lost 4-3. Wandy Rodriguez was solid, provided seven innings of one-run ball, but the bullpen faltered, allowing three runs to score in the final two frames.
Houston opened its 2012 season on April 6 at home against the Rockies and lost yet again, the team's fourth-straight home opener loss. Rodriguez didn't allow an earned run, but three unearned runs scored. The bullpen allowed two runs in the final 2.2 innings and the 'Stros weren't able to get to the Colorado bullpen, which tossed two innings of shutout ball.
The season to forget began with a win, one of only 57 on the year. The team lost 111 games. Houston beat Texas 8-2 on March 31. Bud Norris and Erik Bedard pitched the 'Stros to victory. Jose Altuve had two hits from the leadoff spot in the batting lineup and Rick Ankiel provided a three-run homer.
Houston started the 2014 slate with a April Fool's Day win over the Yankees. Houston won 6-2 thanks to a fast offensive start and solid starting pitching from Scott Feldman. The Astros scored all of their runs in the first two innings and Feldman worked through 6.2 innings of shutout ball. Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes homered for Houston. Altuve pitched in two hits, two RBIs and a stolen base.
The 2015 season was the first winning season since 2008. Houston started with a 2-0, Opening Day win on April 6 over the Indians. Dallas Keuchel led the charge, pitching seven pristine innings. Houston could only muster three hits off Corey Kluber, but it was enough. The Astros finished 93-69 and beat the Yankees in the wild card game before losing to the eventual World Series champion Royals in a five-game American League Division Series.
Houston opened the 2016 on the road in New York, taking on the Yankees for three games before visiting Milwaukee for a three-game set. The Astros' first home game was against the Kansas City Royals on April 11. Houston won the game 8-2. Collin McHugh pitched seven shutout innings, and Tony Sipp and Josh Fields slammed the door to secure the win. Altuve had three hits, Colby Rasmus homered and the Astros had six extra-base hits in the game. Carlos Correa also chipped in three hits, including a double.
In 2017, the Astros won 101 games, the most for the franchise since a 102-win season in 1998. In addition, the Astros won the World Series and Altuve won the MVP. The season started with a shutout win over the Mariners on April 3. George Springer and Correa homered in the 3-0 win. Keuchel was solid on Opening Day yet again, tossing seven innings of shutout ball before handing it over to Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles.
The 2018 Astros set a franchise mark with 103 wins, but lost the AL Championship Series to the eventual World Series champion Red Sox. The season started with a four-game set in Arlington before coming home to take on the Orioles. The Astros won the first game at Minute Maid Park that season, topping the Orioles 6-1. Charlie Morton tossed six innings of shutout ball, Springer, Alex Bregman and Altuve each doubled, and Marwin Gonzalez homered.
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