2013 MLB season to open with Rangers at Astros
The Houston Astros’ debut as an American League club will kick off the 2013 Major League Baseball season as the Astros will host the AL West-rival Texas Rangers on Sunday night, March 31, and the game will be televised by ESPN as usual.
It’s the first time the Astros have been selected for the ESPN Sunday night opener. The March 31st game originally was set as the finale of the season-opening series April 4. The teams will finish the set Tuesday and Wednesday of that week. It’s the first time the Rangers and Astros have played each other to start the season.
“We appreciate MLB and ESPN showcasing our inaugural game in the American League, and we intend to make Astros vs. Rangers the greatest rivalry in Texas sports,” said Astros President and CEO George Postolos.
Houston was moved from the NL West to the American League West this season in order to give each league 15 teams. That move that will necessitate, however, an interleague game every day of the year (well, excluding off days).
This is the third time the Rangers have played in the season-opening game on ESPN. They faced the Toronto Blue Jays in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 1, 2001, and the Angels in Anaheim, Calif., on March 30, 2003.
The Astros almost assuredly will bring up the rear in the AL West this season. They set franchise records for losses in each of the past two seasons, dropping 106 games in 2011, and 107 in 2012. The team has a new manager in Bo Porter and also new uniforms.
Texas (93-69 in 2012) was the World Series favorite for much of last season and led the AL West almost the entire way before being caught and passed by the Oakland A’s on the final day of the season. Then the Rangers were upset by Baltimore in the wild-card game, a shocking end to what looked like a championship-caliber season. Texas also lost both Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to free agency and couldn’t lure free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke to Arlington.
It’s obviously early, but the Opening Night pitching matchup is likely to be the Rangers’ Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90) vs. the Astros’ Bud Norris (7-13, 4.65) or Lucas Harrell (11-11, 3.76).
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