Opening Day 2020: Astros, Rangers embark on unique 60-game season

MLB

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It took months of negotiations between Major League Baseball and the players to reach Thursday’s Opening Day. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing throughout the country, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers start the season in their home ballparks on Friday, July 24.

The Astros open against the Seattle Mariners at 8:10 p.m. and the Rangers start with the Colorado Rockies at 7:05 p.m.

The 60-game season for the Astros and Rangers will feature 10 games against fellow American League West foes and an assortment of games against the National League West teams — the Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants and Rockies.

The playoffs are scheduled to start near the end of September and run, like normal, through October with three division winners and two wild card teams from each league participating.

In a world of social distancing, MLB has implemented rules in an attempt to keep players, managers and umpires safe. Ballparks will be without fans, but there will likely be some cardboard cutouts representing fans. Players will have the option to wear masks while playing, as well.

For the Astros, the long suspension of the season may have taken some sting away from a runner-up finish in the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals. It may also take some vigor away from the sign-stealing controversy that resulted in the suspension and subsequent firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

Dusty Baker is now managing a team that, once again, is brimming with talent and expected to compete for a pennant, but a shortened season may lead to some intriguing and incomplete results. There’s no time for any team to really work through the ebbs and flows of a normal 162-game season. The Astros potent offense usually doesn’t need much time to warm up.

The Rangers will debut their new indoor/outdoor stadium in 2020. The Rangers moved away from the ultra hitting-friendly Globe Life Park, and did a decent amount of upgrading to their pitching staff for 2020.

Texas acquired two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians during the offseason. Kluber only made a handful of starts in 2019 after a fractured forearm and another injury during rehab put him away for the remainder of the season.

With Kluber and Mike Minor, the Rangers are banking on a strong rotation to propel their hopes into contender status in Chris Woodward’s second season as manager.

Astros schedule for first 2 weeks

  • vs. Seattle Mariners | July 24-27
  • vs. Los Angeles Dodgers | July 28-29
  • at Los Angeles Angels | July 31-August 2
  • at Arizona Diamondbacks | August 4-6

Rangers schedule for first 2 weeks

  • vs. Colorado Rockies | July 24-26
  • vs. Arizona Diamondbacks | July 28-29
  • at San Francisco Giants | July 31-August 2
  • at Oakland Athletics | August 4-6

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