This Thursday afternoon the Houston Astros will take the field in Arlington to face the Rangers on Opening Day. It will be the 57th opening day in team history and sixth since the move to the American League. How have other Astros opening days gone? Here is the answer.
On April 10, 1962 the Houston Astros, then the Colt .45s held their first ever opening day as members of the National League. Their opponent was a Chicago Cubs team that had gone 64-90 the year before. For the crowd that gathered at Colt Stadium in Houston the day was a good one as the Colts beat the Cubs 11-2.
Since then there have been 55 opening day games (not including the one coming up on Thursday). A few things have stood out in the opening days from 1962 to 2017.
The National League years
In their 51 years as members of the National League the Houston Astros played every other member of the league except for two. Those two teams are the New York Mets and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The most common opponents for the Astros on opening day in the NL were the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. The Astros played each of those three teams a total of eight times, sporting a 7-1 opening day record against Atlanta, 4-4 against the Dodgers and 1-7 against San Francisco.
Other notable National League teams that the Astros had success against on opening day were the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
After 1962 the Astros didn’t play the Cubs on opening day again until 1999. In three total opening days against the Cubs Houston went 2-1.
Overall in 51 years as members of the NL the Astros were 23-28 on opening day. The Astros did close out their NL tenure on a six-game opening day losing streak.
The American League years
March 31, 2013 was as momentous a day in Houston Astros history as April 10, 1962 had been.
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After 51 years in the National League the Astros were opening up shop in the American League and they did it at home against the Texas Rangers. Houston won that game, but then only managed to win 50 more the rest of the season.
It was the start of a trend. In their first five opening days as members of the AL the Astros have gone 5-0. A win over the Rangers on Thursday would improve the Astros to 2-0 all-time on opening day against their cross-state rivals as well as 6-0 on opening day in the AL. However, that is not all.
A win over the Rangers on Thursday pushes the Astros back above .500 on opening day for the first time since the start of the 2004 season.
Since coming over to the American League the Astros have played four different teams. Houston has played the New York Yankees more than any other AL team. The Astros have gone 2-0 against the Bronx Bombers on opening day. Other openers for the Astros have come against Cleveland and Seattle.
An overview of Houston Astros opening day
For most of its history, the Houston Astros have had the benefit of playing opening day at home. In fact since, 1980 the Astros have only opened on the road eight times, including this year. Before 1980 the Astros opened on the road eight times in their first 18 seasons.
Houston has a 22-19 record in home games played on opening day. Including a 1-1 mark at Colt Stadium, 14-11 at the Astrodome, and 7-7 at Minute Maid Park.
Thursday will be the first time the Astros ever open a game on March 29 but they have opened on March 31 three times, going 1-2.
The most common day for the Astros to open has been April 5 and April 6. They’ve played on both of those days nine times. Astros opening day has most commonly fallen on a Tuesday (24 times) with Monday coming in second (18 times).
This current five-game win streak is two better than the Astros previous best of three-straight set twice (1987-89 and 1999-2001).
What about opening day 2018?
The biggest difference between this opening day and the past 56 is that this is the first time the Astros enter opening day as defending World Series Champions.
On top of that the Astros have a chance to add to their five-game opening day win streak.
The Astros will get the best shot from the Rangers on Thursday, but Houston should be able to start the season 1-0 and improve to 29-28 all-time on opening day. Look for this opening day win to catapult this team into a great year.