Houston, TX – The 2021 version of MLB’s Opening Day has finally arrived. Major League Baseball kicks off today, as the league returns to a full, 162-game schedule with all 30 teams in action.
After the A’s and Astros thrilled in an entertaining American League Division Series last year, we won’t have to wait long for the rematch. The AL West rivals square off in a four-game series at the Oakland Coliseum to kick off the 2021 campaign. First pitch is scheduled for 9:07 p.m. CDT this evening at the Oakland Coliseum. The game will be televised on AT&T Sportsnet, along with MLB.TV.
Oakland returns a strong core of impactful players, led by Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Ramón Laureano, Jesús Luzardo and Sean Murphy. That group was provided reinforcements this offseason in slugger Mitch Moreland and experienced bullpen arms Sergio Romo and Trevor Rosenthal.
The Astros return a stacked lineup from the club that eliminated the A’s in the playoffs last year before losing in seven games to the Rays in the AL Championship Series. Houston is aiming to advance to its fifth consecutive ALCS behind its star-studded infield of Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman – each of whom under performed in the regular season last year. The Astros also re-signed outfielder Michael Brantley and return slugger Yordan Alvarez to the lineup after he missed almost all of 2020.
Chris Bassitt headlines an A’s rotation with no shortage of talent, including Frankie Montas, Oakland’s 2020 Opening Day starter, and Luzardo, who returns for his second full year in the big leagues after flashing his electric arm as a rookie. The back end of the bullpen received reinforcements with new closer Rosenthal and experienced veteran Romo.
Houston’s rotation – after veteran Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr., who last week signed a five-year, $85 million deal – bursts with potential with Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier, who finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last year. The bullpen has been revamped, with Ryan Pressly taking over as closer and the return of side-armer Joe Smith, who’s baseball’s active leader in games pitched.
The Astros haven’t lost an Opening Day game since they moved to the AL in 2013, winning a club-record eight openers in a row. The A’s are aiming to snap that streak in order to send an early reminder that they are the defending AL West champs and will not give up the crown easily.
1. Jose Altuve, 2B
1. Mark Canha, LF