HOME RUN GRUB

Home run lineup of stadium eats for Astros 2020 season revealed

El Mariachi Tots, Jalapeño Tots, El Presidente Tots, and Buffalo Chicken Tots. Photo courtesy of Aramark

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

The Houston Astros held their annual welcome back luncheon for the media Tuesday and rolled out a new slogan for 2020, a long menu of new concession food items and a bigger-than-ever schedule of bobblehead and American League pennant ring giveaways. (I even got to meet Geoff Blum, finally.)

Let's deal with the slogan and giveaways before we get to what's really important: this season's food lineup at Minute Maid Park.

The new slogan is "For the H," a rallying cheer for Houston. We've been through some pretty tough challenges lately — a few natural and one man-made disaster. It's time to play some baseball.

There will be 38 giveaway nights. This time, every fan will get the bobblehead or T-shirt or ring, none of that "first 10,000 fans" limit. Fans won't have to line up outside the stadium at noon for a bobblehead at 7 pm.

I have a suggestion for the Astros: It's always disappointing when the team sells 40,000 tickets to Justin Verlander Bobblehead night, people pick up the bobblehead upon entry and turn right around and leave. There's lots of empty seats and it looks crummy. Solution: when fans enter, they get a coupon for the bobblehead, which they can pick up on their way out, after at least the fifth inning.

Bobbleheads or T-shirts will be given away on 31 nights. Opening night is Thursday, March 26 (wow that's early) at home against the Angels, with Mike Trout and Lamar High School alum Anthony Rendon. ESPN will carry the game and the Astros will unfurl their 2019 American League pennant.

Weekend games will feature a pennant ring giveaway and Jose Altuve bobblehead honoring his American League Championship Series MVP.

The Astros will post their promotions schedule each month online. Early season bobbleheads will celebrate Verlander's Cy Young Award and Yordan Alvarez's Rookie of the Year Award. June 24 will be Astros Pride Night in support of LBGT fans ("baseball is for everybody") and August 7 will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Minute Maid Park. (Stadiums, they grow up so fast.) The Astros will be wearing uniforms made by Nike this year, so the gift shop will be packed with new styles of jerseys and hats.

Enough of that, let's get to the food, glorious food. Here's Mat Drain, the Yokozuna of Yams for Aramark, which handles all the concessions at Minute Maid Park: "Hot dogs, Cracker Jack, and peanuts will always be baseball staples, but our fans expect variety in the stadium, too. We have taken the approach of taking some old favorites and dressing them up to add an array of different looks and flavors," says Drain.

"This season we've partnered with wildly popular Killen's BBQ. Each year, fans ask me what is new. I think our staff has come up with lots of things that will keep them happy and well-fed all season, though October hopefully."

Here are some of the new items for Astros 2020. Don't worry, the time-honored classics, like regular dogs, burgers, popcorn, ice cream, and beer will never leave.

Continue on CultureMap for a list of the new items for 2020 and more photos.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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