Houston Astros’ AL Debut to Open Major League Baseball Season

The Houston Astros will make their American League debut in the first game of the 2013 Major League Baseball season on March 31 when they host the Texas Rangers.

The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. local time at Minute Maid Park in Houston and will be shown by Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, baseball announced today in an e-mailed release. The season-opener falls on the Easter Sunday holiday.

Six games will be played the following day, including the Boston Red Sox at the New York Yankees and the defending-champion San Francisco Giants on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Astros are joining the AL West division after 51 years in the National League, setting up a local rivalry with the Rangers, who play about 250 miles (402 kilometers) away in Arlington. Houston is the first major-league team to change leagues since 1998, when the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the NL Central division from the AL Central.

The Astros’ move, announced in November 2011, puts 15 teams in both the AL and NL, which necessitates interleague play on a daily basis. Baseball previously had two periods of interleague play each season. The realignment also places five teams in each of baseball’s six divisions for the first time.

The Astros finished the 2012 season 55-107, their second consecutive year with baseball’s worst record. The Rangers were 93-69 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Orioles.

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