Time for Houston to face their next challenge
Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALCS Game 1 Preview
It took more games than expected, but the outcome was as predicted: the Astros are in the ALCS. Their opponent is also no surprise; the New York Yankees who were dominant in a sweep of the Twins. Houston continues to own home-field advantage, so the Yankees have made the trip to Houston (I'll practice self-control and avoid the Seinfeld reference) for Games 1 and 2 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
To start the series, the Astros will be sending Zack Greinke to the mound after a disappointing start in St. Petersburg in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays. New York will turn to Masahiro Tanaka, who holds very stout numbers in his postseason career. Here is a quick rundown of ALCS Game 1:
When: Saturday, 7:08 p.m Central.
Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.
Streaming: Fox Sports App.
Pitching matchup: Zack Greinke vs Masahiro Tanaka.
Series: tied 0-0.
|Date & Time (Central)||Location||Pitching matchup|
|Game 1||Saturday 10/12, 7:08 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||Greinke vs Tanaka|
|Game 2||Sunday 10/13, 7:08 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||Verlander vs Paxton|
|Game 3||Tuesday 10/15, 3:08 PM||Yankee Stadium, Bronx NY||Cole vs Severino|
|Game 4||Wednesday 10/16, 7:08 PM||Yankee Stadium, Bronx NY||TBD vs TBD|
|Game 5*||Thursday 10/17, 7:08 PM||Yankee Stadium, Bronx NY||TBD vs TBD|
|Game 6*||Saturday 10/19, 3:08 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||TBD vs TBD|
|Game 7*||Sunday 10/20, 6:38 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||TBD vs TBD|
* If necessary
+ Projected Starters
Rebound game vital for Greinke and his new team
As mentioned, Greinke did not meet the hype in his first playoff appearance for the Astros. In ALDS Game 3, he went just three and two-thirds innings during which he allowed six earned runs, including three homers. Things will be even more difficult against a potent Yankees lineup looking to capitalize against him and build offensive momentum.
Greinke will have to channel in behind his home crowd and give his team an efficient start. New York will not provide any Houston pitcher many easy outs throughout this series, so the Astros should be prepared to use their bullpen much more often than they did in the ALDS. With that, they cannot afford for Greinke to make an early exit after falling apart again. It will be even more critical for Greinke to limit runs allowed because going opposite of him will be Masahiro Tanaka, who holds a 1.54 ERA in the playoffs in his career over 35 innings of work.
Astros can't allow the Yankees to steal one
Houston wanted and needed home-field advantage for this exact matchup. Everyone remembers how much the Astros struggled in New York in the 2017 ALCS. It took having the four games in Houston and winning them all to come out victorious in that matchup. The Astros are a more experienced and arguably improved team from that 2017 squad, but the Yankees even more so. These Yankees are not the same team that folded in the final two games of the 2017 ALCS.
The Astros will have to fight hard to ensure that they don't let the Yankees steal one of these first two games at Minute Maid Park because it will not be any easier to go into Yankee Stadium in October 2019 than it was two years ago. They are playing with confidence, and have the dangerous lineup to do enough to catch Houston on the wrong foot and take advantage. To combat that, it will be vital for Houston to capture and maintain momentum early and often in Game 1 and try to hold on to it as far into this series as they can.
An offensive showdown
This matchup is what we've been waiting to see for several months, and I expect it will deliver. Will Houston perform and play up to their expectations? We'll find out Saturday night.
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
The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.