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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