THE KING OF MEATS IN MINUTE MAID

Ken Hoffman catches up with a BBQ legend who's Killen it at Minute Maid Park

Photo by Kimberly Park

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

The Houston Astros may have lost an All-Star pitcher in the off-season, but the team has added an even bigger superstar who'll be throwing some serious heat in 2020. BBQ maestro Ronnie Killen, often called The King of Meats, has practically taken over the upper deck of Minute Maid Park in deep right field with his acclaimed, prize-winning meats, fixins, and sweet tea.

Wait till you see his new smoker they're installing in the ballpark — it's enormous. You could run the B&O Railroad off it.

"I met Ronnie about six years ago. We were looking for someone to sell BBQ at street festivals before Astros game and it was an instant success," says Mat Drain, the Dalai Lama of Dill Pickles for Aramark, which operates all the concessions at Minute Maid Park.

"Ronnie has been operating at NRG Stadium with Aramark the last couple of seasons. We approached Ronnie about bringing Killen's to Minute Maid Park in tour new entertainment and food area on the 400 level. Ronnie jumped at the opportunity and with his prior relationship with the Astros, we knew it would be an ideal fit."

I caught up with Killen at a recent Astros food tasting. Here you go — just a taste to whet your appetite for the 2020 baseball season:

CultureMap: What will be the name of your concession booth? Is it a built-in stand or a kiosk?

Ronnie Killen:
It will be a freestanding barbecue restaurant and the name will be Killen's Barbecue.

CM: Will you have a limited menu with a few things from your famous restaurant, or are you swinging for the fences?

RK:
We will serve more than we do at NRG Stadium. We'll have several different types of barbecue sandwiches, including sliced beef, chopped beef, sliced turkey, and sausage. We'll have BBQ plates with two sides, like brisket, sausage, pork ribs, turkey breast, and an occasional beef rib.

CM: How many restaurants do you own now?

RK:
I have two Killen's Steakhouses, one in Pearland and one in The Woodlands; Killen's Barbecue; Killen's Burgers; Killen's TMX; and Killen's STQ. Plus, two restaurants in NRG Stadium and coming soon to Minute Maid Park. So, technically, I have 10.

Continue on CultureMap to find out the secret to Killen's meats.

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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