A chance to even the series

ALCS Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Rays

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

It was expected that the Astros would not be launching home runs and RBI hits at the rapid pace they were in the ALDS against the A's once they met the Rays in the ALCS, who dons a much stiffer pitching roster. Still, putting up just one run, which came on a first-inning solo home run by Jose Altuve, was far from what Houston could have hoped for if they want to be able to take this series.

There are things to build off for Houston from Sunday's Game 1 loss, albeit needed in very short order, with Game 2 coming just a little less than 17 hours after the final out. A win evens the series and shifts it into a best-of-five, while a loss will put the Astros at a significant disadvantage to pull out a series victory. Here are some quick facts and storylines for Monday's important Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Monday, October 12th, 3:07 PM Central.

Where: Petco Park - San Diego, California.


Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Lance McCullers Jr. vs Charlie Morton

Series: TB leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central)Pitching MatchupHome Team
Game 1Final: Rays 2, Astros 1Framber Valdez (L) vs. Blake Snell (W)Rays
Game 2Mon 10/12, 3:07 PMLance McCullers Jr. vs. TBDRays
Game 3Tue 10/13, TBDTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 4Wed 10/14, TBDTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 5*Thu 10/15, TBDTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 6*Fri 10/16, TBDTBD vs. TBDRays
Game 7*Sat 10/17, TBDTBD vs. TBDRays

All games played at Petco Park.

* If necessary

Game Storylines

It's nearly as important as a must-win

No, the Astros aren't going home if they lose on Monday afternoon. However, going down 2-0 and looking down the barrel at a possible 3-0 deficit that is, for all intents and purposes, insurmountable, is a slippery slope to a disappointing series. On the other hand, getting into the win column and shortening the 1-1 series to a best-of-five puts Houston potentially right back into the driver's seat.

To that end, while they shouldn't fire all their bullets, the Astros should be aggressive in how they handle Game 2, especially if they hold a small lead late in the game. That means potentially bringing in one of your hottest relievers, Enoli Paredes, who did throw 12 pitches in Game 1, if needed to get out of a jam or play a setup role before Ryan Pressly to close things out. But first, to even have to make that decision, they'd have to score some runs...

Houston has to improve when given chances to score

Both teams had their chances to blow things open in Game 1, with Tampa Bay going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine on base, and Houston doing 2-for-8 and leaving ten. Credit to Houston's pitching that held the Rays in check, but it has to be the Astros' bats that back them up if they have a hope in this series.

They did a great job of working Blake Snell into long at-bats, making him throw 105 pitches over his five innings to get him out of the game early, but then did nothing with it by getting just three hits the rest of the way. On Monday, they'll have another chance facing former-teammate Charlie Morton, who has made it past 5.0 innings pitched just one time this whole season when he went 5.2 against the Red Sox on August 4th. Getting into the Rays' bullpen isn't exactly a reward, as the Astros found out Sunday night, but if they can stress out Tampa Bay's pitching early in this series and even it up, then they'll have their best chance.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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Now's the time to be cautious with the Astros slugger. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images.

The Houston Astros received another scare from Yordan Alvarez on Tuesday night when he had to eventually leave the game with left ankle discomfort after rolling his ankle in the first inning.

Fortunately for Houston, the X-Rays came back negative and Yordan should be okay. But this is just the latest scare with Alvarez. Let's put this in perspective, he seems to deal with a lot of injuries. He's already had surgery on both knees, he's dealt with hand discomfort in both hands, depending on who you talk to, which could require surgery in the offseason if he is in fact dealing with a Hamate bone injury. And let's not forget the concussion symptoms earlier in the season he suffered after crashing into Jeremy Pena.

Yordan also abruptly had to leave a game against the Braves on Aug. 19 that required him being hospitalized with shortness of breath. Now, with the playoffs right around the corner, Yordan is dealing with an ankle injury. The magic number for the Astros is at 1 now, meaning they lock up the top seed in the AL with one more win and seven games to play.

With that being the case, Yordan doesn't need to play anymore in the regular season. Yordan proved against the Yankees this summer that he could come back from extended time off (hand discomfort) and not miss a beat. (He went 2-4 with a double, home run, and 3 RBI)

It's all about the postseason for this Astros team, so let's not take any chances with Yordan Alvarez. Rest him until the postseason and give the team their best possible chance to bring home another World Series.

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