Houston faces a familiar foe in the ALDS

ALDS Game 1 Preview: Astros vs. A's

Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

They entered with a losing regular-season record and were underdogs in the ALWC series against the Twins. Yet, the Astros are making their fourth-straight ALDS appearance, and if they win it to advance further, their fourth-straight ALCS. Their opponent: the Oakland A's, who took seven of the ten regular-season games against Houston.

However, as we observed in the ALWC round, regular-season numbers and records do not matter all that much, especially with this series played at an empty Dodger Stadium in the MLB's version of a bubble. Sure, the A's may think they have a mental edge having beaten the Astros so much this year, but when you turn the switch on in a best-of-five playoff series, it's a new ballgame. Here are the facts of Monday's Game 1:

Game Facts

When: Monday October 5th, 3:07 PM Central

Where: Dodger Stadium - Los Angeles, California

TV: TBS

Streaming: Watch TBS App

Pitching Matchup: Lance McCullers Jr. vs. Chris Bassitt

Series: tied 0-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central)Pitching MatchupHome Team
Game 1Mon 10/5, 3:07 PMLance McCullers Jr. vs. Chris BassittA's
Game 2Tue 10/6, 3:37 PMFramber Valdez vs. Sean ManaeaA's
Game 3Wed 10/7, 2:35 PMTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 4*Thu 10/8, 2:35 PMTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 5*Fri 10/9, 2:35 PMTBD vs. TBDA's

All games played at Dodger Stadium.

* If necessary

Game Storylines

McCullers Jr. starts things off

After disposing of the Twins in two games, it allows the Astros to start a well-rested Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 1 of the ALDS. His last start was a four-inning tune-up against the Rangers on Saturday, September 26th, a scoreless start while striking out nine, looking very sharp. He faced Oakland once this year, starting the first part of a doubleheader on August 29th.

He went six of the seven innings in that game, earning the win by allowing just two runs (one unearned) as the Astros took that game 4-2. The opposing pitcher in that game? None other than Chris Bassitt, who will be on the mound for Oakland in Game 1. The Astros were able to chase him out of that game in the fourth inning after tagging him with two home runs, one a three-run shot by Kyle Tucker, the other a solo homer by Josh Reddick.

Houston has to stay poised

Yes, there's history between these two teams. The A's will continue to have a beef against the Astros for years to come regarding the sign-stealing scandal that they will view hindered their chances at success in the division. Then there's the incident earlier this season between Ramon Laureano and Alex Cintron that resulted in the all-out brawl between the two teams and eventual suspensions.

The Astros have enough going against them with most of the baseball world outside of Houston hoping for an early exit from the postseason; they can't combine that angst with losing their composure against the A's and expect to play their best baseball. If the A's get something going early in Game 1, or this series, that gives them the reason to chirp at or show up the Astros, or vice versa for that matter, the Astros will do well to shift their focus to the next play on the field to avoid getting caught up in the dramatics. They can then say what they need to say, with national media's approval or not, in the post-game and post-series interviews.

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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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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