FANS IN THE STANDS

Here's what the gameday experience will look like this season for Texans fans

Here's what the gameday experience will look like this season for Texans fans
Fans can finally attend Texans games in person! Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook
3) NRG Stadium/Texans

The Houston Texans will have 13,300 real-life human fans in the stands - about 20-percent of NRG Stadium's usual capacity – when they tackle the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.

The decision to allow a limited number of fans in the stadium was reached by city, county and state officials with input from the National Football League.

"The health and safety of our fans, our staff, our team and our community have been and will remain our priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," Texans president Jamey Rootes said in a statement.

"We look forward to welcoming our home-field advantage back and resuming our cherished Texans game day traditions. We have been working tirelessly to make changes and implement protocols at NRG Stadium to ensure a safe environment."

Here are the nuts and bolts of the seven Texans home games remaining on the schedule:

Season ticket holders who did not defer for the 2020 season will have first crack at purchasing tickets. If any tickets are left over, they will go on sale at noon today (Tuesday) at Ticketmaster.com. No tickets will be sold at the NRG Stadium box office.

There will be no tailgating permitted in NRG Stadium parking lots during the 2020 season.

Fans will be instructed to stand at least six feet apart from the time they park their cars to when they take their seats inside the stadium. Fans must stand six feet apart, even when they visit concession stands and restrooms.

Important: all fans, 10 years and older, must wear a face mask at all times, except when they are eating or drinking. A full array of concession stands will be open, including Ronnie Killen's world-famous barbecue ribs and sandwiches. Chris Shepherd's Underbelly Hospitality will offer bacon sausage hot dogs with pimento cheese, tater tot casserole and wagyu nachos.

There will be 475 hand sanitizing stations throughout the stadium, and frequent mentions on the scoreboard to use them.

Concessions will be payable by credit or debit card only. All purchases will be handled by cashless transaction.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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