HOUSTON ASTROS 2018

Score a home run at Astros biggest opening day ever with these hot tips

Today should be one last chance to celebrate the 2017 title. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Steven Devadanam is editor of CultureMap/Houston. This article originally appeared there.

The day that Astros fans have been waiting for is here. Houston's opening day 2018 downtown promises to be packed, with the massive Astros Street Fest which runs from 1-5:30 pm (you must have a game ticket to gain access), not to mention the myriad watch parties happening all over town. 

If you're headed downtown, here are some last-minute reminders and tips to help you make the most of your opening day experience. 

Parking, parking, parking

If you're driving in, remember that the tens of thousands of downtown parking spaces — including on-street spaces, garages and surface lots — will get gobbled up quickly close to game time. This Downtown Interactive Parking Map shows visitors the best places to park according to destination and preferred lot type, and even offers parking reservations for some garages. Expect prices on opening day to be higher than those posted online.

Parking gets considerably more expensive the closer you get to Minute Maid Park. Garages and surface lots located west of Main St. will most likely be cheaper. Join the crowds and walk a few blocks to the stadium.

There are 3-hour time limits as well as some restrictions for on-street parking during weekdays, so make sure to read the signs before you park. (Street parking is free after 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and all day on Sunday.)

Hitch a ride

Expect a swarm of fans to use taxis, Uber, or Lyft — which is offering a promo code for the Astros opener, through April 8.

To get 20 percent off your LYFT rides (up to $5 off), use promo code ASTROSOPENER.

Greenlink
Take advantage of free rides to and from Minute Maid Park, and other downtown game day spots, with the Greenlink bus. The Orange Route, which runs Monday-Friday from 6:30 pm-midnight, Saturday from 9 am-midnight, and Sunday from 9 am-6 pm, has a stop located across from Minute Maid Park near Crawford and Texas, and picks up riders every 10 minutes.

METRORail

Speaking of buses, you can can hop on the METRORail to and from the game, with stops along the Green and Purple lines.

HoustonBCYCLE

The Houston BCYCLE bike share is a convenient transportation option when attending Astros games, with 15 stations downtown. The two stations are Crawford Island, four blocks south of Minute Maid Park (925 Crawford St.), and Rusk & Emanuel, just a few blocks east of the stadium (736 St. Emanuel St.).

Pre-game

There's no shortage of restaurants and bars close to Minute Maid Park, especially along Main Street and at Avenida Houston near the George R. Brown Convention Center — offering up stops for pre-and post-game meals and celebrations.

The no-frills Eighteen Twenty Lounge offers a low-key setting before the excitement of the game with comfortable couches, classic games and a wide selection behind the bar.

Across from Minute Maid Park, the ideally located HTX Fan Tavern boasts three bars, an abundance of televisions, and a state-of-the-art sound system for an immersive game day experience.

Stylish Italian restaurant Osso & Kristalla is not your average pre-game location, but fans can find ample patio seating, $5 Astros game day specials on select beers, and an assortment of delicious game day foods—plus it’s just steps from the park’s Union Station entrance

Downtown watch parties

For Houstonians who don’t have tickets to the game, several downtown hotspots are hosting watch parties.

Named after the Astros legend and Hall-of-Famer, Biggio’s is a two-story fan favorite inside the Marriott Marquis, boasting two 30-foot HD screens, leather recliners and ballpark-inspired fare. Saint Arnold Brewing Company kicks off this celebration at 11 am. Christian’s Tailgate on Congress is home to more than 40 televisions, and 30 beers on tap. La Cantina is downtown’s newest sports bar, with multiple 82-inch televisions, adjacent street taco specialists La Calle across the hall, and plenty of margaritas.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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