ST. PETERSBURG — The Astros won a ballgame Thursday afternoon, which was important since they scuffled through August. More importantly, they quickly dressed for the charter flight back to Houston.
After three games against the Rangers at Tropicana Field in a series moved to Florida because of Hurricane Harvey, and a few days wondering if their weekend series against the Mets would also be played at the Trop, the Astros were relieved and anxious to head home.
"It was probably the longest week of the year," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
They watched helplessly from afar as the flood waters filled southeast Texas. Now they will see the devastation firsthand.
"Obviously, we're really fortunate in so many ways to escape the devastation that's actually happening in Houston," pitcher Collin McHugh said. "We've been away for a while, and we're all ready to get back home."
The Astros are off today, and many team members plan to lend a hand where needed.
"Our return to Houston is miniscule compared to the work that's going to have to be done," Hinch said. "I'm sure they're excited we're coming back. I'm sure that getting back to normalcy, we're going to play a part of that, because part of a normal September weekend is us playing baseball and there being action in Minute Maid (Park). We'll keep it all in perspective."
Thursday's game, a 5-1 Astros win, drew 3,385 to the Trop and brought the three-game total to 12,993. Fans paid $10 for lower bowl seats, and all ticket, parking and concession revenues will be donated to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
The crowds were decidedly for the Astros, and fans held signs with messages such as "Houston Strong."
Hinch and his players appreciated the turnout.
"We played here because we didn't have any other choice, but the fans did have a choice whether to support or whether to come out," Hinch said. "There's a great cause to come out for. There's a lot of people who need help.
"These are Rays fans who became Astros supporters and Rangers supporters and city of Houston supporters. Surprised? No. Grateful? Yes."