The novel coronavirus wasn’t going to let T-Mobile Park open the 2020 season under any circumstance.
Major League Baseball on Monday released its updated schedule to the truncated 2020 season. Instead of opening at home per the original regular-season schedule, Seattle instead will open at Houston’s Minute Maid Park against the defending American League champion Astros on July 24.
Seattle will play four games against the Astros and then travel to Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels.
Houston, which resides in Harris County, has seen a major uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Per the Harris County Health Dept. as of Monday afternoon there were 37,776 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 401 deaths. The Houston Health Dept. reported 963 new cases Monday, bringing the city’s total to 24,336. There were no new deaths reported.
Like Houston, the Los Angeles area has experienced a serious spike in confirmed cases in recent weeks. Per the Orange County Health Agency, there were 1,028 new cases and no new deaths reported in Orange County for Monday. There have been 17,882 confirmed cases and 366 deaths in the county.
The Mariners’ new home opener will come Friday, July 31 vs. the Oakland A’s. That game will be the first of a 10-game homestand with a three-game series against the Angels followed by a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies.
Per the new geographic scheduling rules for this unique season, the Mariners will play 40 games vs. AL West opponents and 20 games vs. National League West teams.
With fans not being allowed to attend games initially, the focus will be on television coverage and player safety. The Mariners have decided to change start times for home games to 6:10 p.m. or 6:40 p.m., with three weekday games at 1:10 p.m. for travel purposes. With the Astros and Rangers forced to play all road games outside of Texas in a different time zone, MLB asked teams to set game times to keep both television markets in mind. So Seattle’s home games against the Rangers and Astros will be have a 6:10 p.m. first pitch.
All Sunday home games will have 1:10 p.m. starts. There are two games scheduled for 7:10 p.m. to accommodate potential ESPN broadcasts.
The start times for some road games have yet to be posted.
ROOT Sports will still televise the Mariners’ games, with ESPN 710 and the Mariners’ radio network broadcasting the games. Information about subscriptions and blackout restrictions have yet to be shared by MLB.
When the original 2020 regular-season schedule was announced last September, the Mariners were given the luxury of holding opening day — Thursday, March 26 — in Seattle against Texas.
And then in the early days of spring training, after the first positive coronavirus test in the United States occurred in the Puget Sound and the Seattle area became the first hot spot, the Mariners’ hopes to hold that opening day dissipated. With Gov. Jay Inslee ordering a shelter in place for all residents and ending group gatherings, the Mariners made the decision to move the opening-day game and the rest of that first homestand to their complex in Arizona.
That proposed plan quickly became moot when baseball was shut down March 12 as the pandemic spread and baseball’s season came into doubt.
Glancing at the schedule, there are few notes:
The Mariners play the Astros 10 times, with seven of those games at Minute Maid Park. Seattle was 1-19 vs. Houston last season.
Of the games vs. the NL West, the Mariners will host every team except the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mariners’ only meeting with the Diamondbacks will be Sept. 11-13 in Phoenix.
In a scheduling quirk, the Mariners will play a back-to-back, two-game series against the Dodgers — one road and one home — at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 17-18, and at T-Mobile Park on Aug. 19-20.
The other home and away two-game series will be against the San Francisco Giants, with two games at AT&T Park on Sept. 8-9 and a rematch at T-Mobile on Sept. 15-16 as part of the final homestand of the season that will include the San Diego Padres (Sept. 18-20) and Astros (Sept. 21-23).
The Mariners will close out the 2020 season with a three-game trip to Oakland, with the season finale Sunday, Sept. 26.