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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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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