The Houston Astros will mark their official entrance into the American League by facing their in-state and new AL West Division rivals, the Texas Rangers, before a national television audience to open the 2013 Major League Baseball season, it was announced today.
On Sunday night, March 31st, ESPN will present an exclusive national telecast of the Astros’ historic first-ever game in the American League when they host the Rangers at Minute Maid Park at 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT.
This will mark the third time that the Rangers have played in the Major League season opener on ESPN. Texas played the Toronto Blue Jays in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 1, 2001 and the Anaheim Angels in Anaheim on March 30, 2003.
The following day, Monday, April 1, ESPN will continue its coverage of Opening Week presented by Budweiser with four Opening Day match-ups across ESPN networks featuring the winners of the past seven World Series (all times ET, subject to local blackouts):
• 1:00pm – Red Sox @ Yankees (ESPN)
• 4:00pm – Giants @ Dodgers (ESPN)
• 7:00pm – Phillies @ Braves (ESPN2)
• 10:00pm – Cardinals @ Diamondbacks (ESPN2)
The Astros-Rangers contest will mark the first time Astros and Rangers will face each other to start a season. With the Astros moving to the American League, each league now has 15 Clubs, and each of Major League Baseball’s six divisions are comprised of five Clubs for the first time.
The Sunday, March 31 game between the Astros and Rangers was moved from Thursday, April 4. That is now an off-day for the Rangers before the team opens its home schedule on Friday, April 5 versus the Los Angeles Angels. The complete list of Rangers 2012 game times will be announced at a later date.
The ESPN/ESPN2 Opening Day slate on Monday, April 1 features some of the biggest division rivalries in baseball as well as the winners of the past seven World Series. Overall, 12 games will be played across Major League Baseball that day.
Opening Night will mark the start of ESPN’s 24th season televising Major League Baseball. The Astros-Rangers game will also be available via ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN and ESPN Mobile TV.