Houston can complete the sweep

ALDS Game 3 Preview: A's vs. Astros

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With the 5-2 win over the A's in Game 2, the Astros remained undefeated in the 2020 MLB postseason. If Houston can improve to 5-0 with a Game 3 victory, it will mean a clean sweep of the A's in the ALDS, advancing them to their fourth-straight ALCS to face the winner of the other ALDS between the Yankees and Rays. Here's how the game shapes up:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday October 7th, 2:35 PM Central.

Where: Dodger Stadium - Los Angeles, California.


Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Jesús Luzardo vs. Jose Urquidy.

Series: HOU leads 2-0.

Series Schedule

Date & TimePitching MatchupHome Team

Game 1Astros 10, A's 5Lance McCullers Jr. (ND) vs. Chris Bassitt (ND)A's
Game 2Astros 5, A's 2Framber Valdez (W) vs. Sean Manaea (L)A's
Game 3Wed 10/7, 2:35 PMJesús Luzardo vs. Jose Urquidy
Game 4*Thu 10/8, 2:35 PMTBD vs. TBD
Game 5*Fri 10/9, 2:35 PMTBD vs. TBDA's

All games played at Dodger Stadium.

* If necessary

Game Storylines

Keep swinging away and letting it fly

The baseball has been flying out of Dodger Stadium in a hurry so far in this ALDS, with eleven total home runs, six in Game 1 and five in Game 2. Six of those have been by the Astros, three in each game. They'll face Jesús Luzardo, who was on the mound twice against the Astros in the regular season, combining for 12.2 innings while allowing four earned runs as Oakland would win both of those games. He didn't, however, face this lineup as hot as they are right now.

Even though he hasn't had his trademark leadoff dinger to start the game, George Springer has been raking so far in this series. Springer is 6-for-9 against Oakland so far with four RBI and fresh off his two-homer day in Game 2. If he can stay hot to lead this offense, they can go toe to toe with anyone as they continue to have one of the best top-to-bottom lineups in the league.

Keep throwing strikes and trust the bullpen

In ALWC Game 2 against the Twins, Urquidy made the start and, despite allowing only one run, was given an early hook by Dusty Baker in the fifth inning at just 76 pitches. In his last four starts of the regular season, he was able to go 7.0 innings twice and 6.0 innings twice, including a six-inning, two-run, 88-pitch start against the A's on September 10th in Oakland. If he can replicate that success and pass the ball to the bullpen deep into the game, that will be ideal for Houston.

Speaking of the Astros' bullpen, they have been terrific in this series's first two games. After Lance McCullers Jr. allowed five runs (one unearned) and lasted just four innings in Game 1, four of Houston's relievers were able to avoid giving up any more earned runs in their five innings of work. Framber Valdez flipped that script in Game 2, going seven frames with two relievers finishing off the win. Unfortunately for Houston, with Enoli Paredes having pitched in both games, he will likely be unavailable for Game 3, but they still have plenty of arms available to contribute if needed.

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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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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