Another chance to put Oakland away

ALDS Game 4 Preview: A's vs. Astros

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Although the Astros, who dropped ALDS Game 3 to the A's, won't finish the postseason a perfect 13-0 with sweeps of all four series, they are still in prime position to move on to the ALCS. They hold a 2-1 lead going into ALDS Game 4, needing just one more win to take the best-of-five. Here is what to look for in Thursday's matchup:

Game Facts

When: Thursday October 8th, 2:35 PM Central.

Where: Dodger Stadium - Los Angeles, California.

TV: TBS.

Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Frankie Montas vs. TBD.

Series: HOU leads 2-1.

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 3A's 9, Astros 7Jesús Luzardo (ND) vs. Jose Urquidy (ND)
Astros
Game 4Thu 10/8, 2:35 PMFrankie Montas vs. TBD
Astros
Game 5*Fri 10/9, 2:35 PMTBD vs. TBDA's

All games played at Dodger Stadium.

* If necessary

Game Storylines

Who will start on the mound for Houston?

With all the home runs and scoring in the first three games of this series, both teams feel the effects of using so many bullpen arms in these games happening on consecutive days instead of the ALDS's typical off-days. In fact, it sets up a precarious situation for Houston, who are waiting until Thursday morning on an update on Zack Greinke's status before they decide on their starter. If Greinke can pitch, obviously that presents the Astros their best shot, and they will put him out there.

If not, they have a couple of choices, most likely either Luis Garcia or Cristian Javier, who are the most rested and have started games this season. Garcia, who was not on the ALWC roster but is on the ALDS roster, faced this the A's in his start on September 9th. He held them scoreless over five innings in that game, leaving in line for the win before Houston's bullpen would allow the winning runs for Oakland. Javier pitched a scoreless inning out of the pen on Monday in Game 1, so he could likely get through a few innings if he's going well. No matter who is on the mound to start the game, Dusty Baker will probably be taking things inning by inning, and possibly batter by batter, depending on how the momentum shifts during the game.

The Astros need to get Montas out early

On the other side, Oakland has decided on Frankie Montas to be on the bump. He did not start in the ALWC series, instead coming in for two innings in ALWC Game 3 after Mike Fiers could not complete two frames. During the regular season, Montas started three times against the Astros, with a mixed bag of results.

On August 8th, he held Houston scoreless over seven innings in a win. On the 29th of that month, the Astros chased him out after just 3.1 innings and five runs in a seven-inning doubleheader game, handing him a loss. Then, on September 8th, he squeaked out a win after five two-run innings, with his offense bailing him out with runs against Zack Greinke in another part of a doubleheader. Having put up 22 runs so far, it's not so much a matter of if, but when, Houston will get hot at the plate again with the ball flying out of Dodger Stadium. Hopefully for them, though, it comes early against Montas so they can get into a heavily-used Oakland bullpen sooner rather than later.

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 loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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