HOUSTON -- For the second time in less than a week, a Houston professional sports franchise kept its facility open after the game ended in order to ensure the safety of its patrons.
Last Monday, the Rockets kept their arena open through the wee hours following their win over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA playoffs, when torrential downpours began to flood the city. The situation was slightly less dire for the Astros on Saturday, as the need to give fans a dry place to wait out the rain only lasted an hour following Houston's 3-0 victory.
The Astros made an announcement in the eighth inning during their game against the White Sox that the ballpark would remain open in case fans wanted to wait for the severe weather to pass.
The decision was made around the seventh inning, said Astros president Reid Ryan.
"When the rain started coming in the building, we didn't want people walking to their cars," Ryan said. "We told our folks, 'Let's keep the stadium open so people don't get wet and can get out of here safely.'"
Loosely estimated, a few hundred fans took up the Astros' offer. The game ended around 5:40 p.m. CT, and at 6:43, they announced to the few who were left that the National Weather Service had assured them the severe weather had moved through the area.
By then, there was quiet and calm in the building, a stark contrast to what was happening a couple of hours earlier. This game was loud. That was partly due to the thunder and rain, partly due to the crowd reaction -- lots of "oohing" and "aahing" when the thunder clapped -- and partly due to the general screaming you hear from the stands when a staff ace is dominating his opponent en route to his second career shutout and eighth career complete game.
While Dallas Keuchel was carving his way through the White Sox lineup, rain splashed against the glass wall that extends from left field to center with such intensity that it looked like a car wash.
It appeared to be raining sideways, and water seeped in from the various small openings that have always been a part of the Minute Maid Park roof.
The difference was, of course, that during "normal" rain showers, only a small amount of water gets inside. What happened Saturday was something much more dramatic. Some rain fell on the seats in the left field Crawford Boxes and the seats behind right field. The Astros' bullpen, located in right-center, also got wet.
"It was hitting me when I was warming up," reliever Pat Neshek said.
Water seeped onto the concourse behind the Crawford Boxes, flooding it for a short time. Water also ran down the tunnels into the groundskeepers' room.
As Houston has come to realize in the last week, not much can be done in terms of protection when a downpour happens that quickly and with that much ferocity.
"There was 5 inches of rain in 30 minutes," Ryan said. "A lot of rain came in, but we got it out of there pretty quick."
Ryan also said fans in the Crawford Boxes who got wet were moved to a new seat location.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on
Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.