Here’s all you need to know about the Mexico City Series

April 28th, 2024

Houston shortstop Jeremy Peña made a New Year’s resolution to do more traveling to places that he’s never been to before. It’s a work trip, but Peña is excited to lead the Astros south of the border this weekend as they face the Rockies in a pair of games in the Mexico City Series at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú.

The two-game set marks the seventh regular-season series played in Mexico, with Houston playing in their first international series since 2019, when they last faced the Angels in Monterrey. The Rockies are returning for the first time since 2019, when they took on the Diamondbacks in Monterrey during Spring Training.

Houston won the opener, 12-4, on Saturday.

“I expect the crowd is going to be a great environment,” said Peña, the 2022 World Series MVP. “I don’t know if it’s going to be more of our fans or their fans, but I do know the stadium is probably going to be packed and it’s going to be a great time. And the ball flies, so hopefully I hit some ball in the air.”

Some of the biggest stars in the game are being featured, including Peña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez and Josh Hader of the Astros. The Rockies, likewise, are led by Ezequiel Tovar, Ryan McMahon, Cal Quantrill and Austin Gomber.

“It’ll be cool man,” said McMahon, who last went to Mexico on a family vacation as a child. “I’ll get a taste of their culture and go play some baseball games. It should be fun.

“We’ve got an off-day before the game. Jake Cave was telling me there is a really cool museum right there in Mexico City. I might swing over there to check it out with him.”

Baseball and sightseeing add spice to the regular season.

“This is awesome,” said Cave. “You get a free trip to go play in a different country. A lot of people would kill for that.”

The Astros are getting ace left-hander Framber Valdez back off the injured list to start Sunday's game in Mexico City. Left-hander Austin Gomber is in line to start for the Rockies on Sunday.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Astros outfielder Chas McCormick said. “To be able to go to Mexico and play in a [different] stadium, it’s going to be a good time. I think it’s going to be beautiful there and it’s always nice to play in warm weather. Just play against the Rockies and spread the Astros and Rockies around in Mexico, it’s a beautiful thing.”

What is the Mexico Series?

Part of the “MLB World Tour,” the Mexico City Series is part of the league’s initiative to bring international games to major baseball markets. It follows regular-season games in Seoul, South Korea to open the season and precedes a pair of contests between the Phillies and Mets in London this summer. There were also exhibition games held in the Dominican Republic and Mexico during Spring Training.

This weekend’s games mark the 14th and 15th regular-season games to be played in Mexico.

When are the games and how can I watch them?

Sunday’s game will begin at 4:05 p.m. ET / 3:05 CT / 2:05 MT. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

What’s the history of Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú?

Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium is the home ballpark of the Red Devils of Mexico, who play in the Mexican League. Located in Mexico City’s Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City park -- home of the 1968 Summer Olympics -- it was opened in 2019 and has a capacity of 20,576. It is named after businessman Alfredo Harp Helú, the owner of the Red Devils and a minority owner of the Padres.

What should I know about Mexico City?

The capital and largest city in the country, Mexico City is one of the world’s largest and most vibrant cities, with a population nearing 22 million in the metro area. Located in Mexico’s highlands central plateau, it sits at an altitude of 7,350 feet. That’s notably higher than hitter-friendly Coors Field in Colorado.

“We’ll see how it plays,” the Rockies’ McMahon said. “It should be fun, anyway.”

What’s the history of MLB games in Mexico?

MLB has played five regular-season series in Mexico, dating back to the Padres-Mets series in August 1996 in Monterrey. The Padres and Rockies met for a single game in Monterrey in 1999, and the Padres and Dodgers faced off there again for a three-game set in 2018. In 2019, the Cardinals played the Reds and the Astros faced the Angels for two games each in Monterrey. Last season, Mexico City hosted the Padres and Giants for a pair of games. It marked the first time an MLB game had been played in Mexico City.

Have the Astros and/or Rockies participated in any other international games?

The Astros last played internationally in 2019 against the Angels in Monterrey. Prior to that, the Astros also played in an exhibition series against the Padres in Mexico City in 2016; an exhibition games against the Marlins in Mexico City in 2004; an exhibition games against Cleveland in Valencia, Venezuela in 2001; an exhibition game against the Red Sox in Santo Domingo in 2000; and in a pair of exhibition games in 1982 against the Orioles in San Juan and Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

The Rockies are making their first international trip since taking on the Diamondbacks in 2019 exhibition games in Monterrey. Colorado also played in the 1999 season-opener games in Monterrey against San Diego, and in 2001 exhibition games in Culiacan.

What community events are planned in conjunction with the trip?

After a host of events from Wednesday and Thursday, here's what to expect this weekend:

• The favorite tacos of six players will be available at Diana Cazadora-Reforma (Saturday) and Estela de Luz-Reforma (Sunday). The players who created their tacos include Colorado’s Kris Bryant (KB’s Taco); Elias Díaz (Elias Díaz Taco); and Kyle Freeland (Carnitas + Freeland); and Houston’s José Urquidy (Taco-Minedo); Bryan Abreu (Abreu Taco); and Alex Bregman (Wild Sol Taco). Two different recipes will be available each day with 1,000 tacos per day prepared by El Parnita, one of the most famous taquerías in Mexico City.

• MLB hosted 100 local youth from the John Langdon Down Foundation, for an adaptive and inclusive PLAY BALL event. The clinic featured special guests, including players from both the Astros and the Rockies as well as other MLB alumni.

Is there anything else fans should know?

• The Astros and Rockies can each carry a 27th player for the series, but MLB rules stipulate it must be a position player.

• The Rockies will be the “home” team for both games and will bat last.

• Actor and producer Alfonso Herrera delivered the ceremonial first pitch prior to Saturday’s game. Mexican singer and actress Lidia Avila performed the Mexico National Anthem, and the Star-Spangled Banner was performed by singer Kaylise Irizarry, who has performed the anthem at Astros home games on a number of occasions.

• On Sunday, Rockies legends and Mexico natives Vinny Castilla and Jorge de la Rosa will throw out ceremonial first pitches. The Mexican National Anthem will be performed by Mexican singer and composer Sofi Saar, and Irizarry will again sing the U.S. National Anthem.