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.


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)
Game 4Thu 10/8, 2:35 PMFrankie Montas vs. TBD
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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The Astros have JV this year, and Yankee Stadium will be packed. Composite image by Jack Brame.

How’s that New York, New York song go, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere? The AL West leading Houstonians are about to find out just where they stand among baseball’s elite. The Astros start a 4-game series tonight against the AL East first-place Yankees at Yankee Stadium, then a 2-game set against the NL East first-place Mets at Citi Field, then back home for a single game against the Yankees.

New York, New York indeed. And you can throw another New York in there for an encore.

When the dust clears, the Astros could be the best team in baseball or merely a good, solid team … just not the Yankees in the American League. Or the Mets in the National League.

The Yankees have the top record in the AL East, 51-18, a dozen games ahead the second-place Blue Jays. The Mets, even after dropping two to the Astros this week at Minute Maid Park, stand at 45-26, 4.5 games up on the Braves.

The Yankees and Mets have the two best records in the Major Leagues, with the Astros knocking on the door at 43-25.

It’s not yet July, but the next seven games could be the most important, interesting stretch of 2022 for the Astros, maybe for all of baseball.

Remember last year when the Astros visited Yankee Stadium, their first trip to The Bronx after the sign-stealing scandal broke? Yankee fans were lurking for the Astros like the Van Buren Boys waiting to mug George Costanza.

It was a different year last year for sure. The Yankees were barely over .500, headed for a third-place finish in the AL East. Didn’t matter, cold-blooded New Yorkers were out for vengeance. They remembered 2017 when they believe in their souls that the Astros were undeserving, big fat cheating champions and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve stole the AL MVP election from Aaron Judge. There seems to be a lot of that going around. Also with no evidence. Turns out that Altuve wasn’t one of the garbage can gang.

It also was baseball’s Covid season. The Yankees allowed only 10,500 fans to attend those games against the Astros last year. And they had security staff patrolling the ballpark ordering fans to wear their face masks. The only time fans lowered their masks was to eat or drink.

Or yell “F-Altuve” or “F-Astros” at the top of their New York lungs. They’re loud to start, and 10,500 fans sounded like a packed stadium. It could be a decibel-breaker tonight at Yankee Stadium.

It was brutal last season. Fans brought signs laced with profanity. They got personal with Astros players. Fans were dressed in homemade garbage can costumes. Party City doesn’t sell those. I watched small children yell the F-word and turn to their parents for a high five.

What a treat for Astros fans, seven games over eight days, all against dreaded powerhouses from New York. A dying sport? Half empty stadiums in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Miami? A vacant house in Oakland? Nobody’s ghosting baseball in Houston.

The Astros are loaded for bear this week. Their pitching is set up perfectly. Framber Valdez starts the opener tonight at Yankee Stadium, followed by Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. Luis Garcia and Valdez are slated for the Mets at Citi Field. The bullpen is firing on all cylinders.

Then, one week from today, it’s Verlander vs. Gerrit Cole at Minute Maid Park. Game of the Year. Where the pitching rubber meets the road. TK, Blummer and Julia, get ready for World Series level ratings.

It’s go time. The only thing that could make that game any bigger and better – if it were a Tuesday Dollar Dog Night.

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