Gerrit Cole will face his toughest challenge yet

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALCS Game 3 Preview

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Astros made a big statement in Game 2 by eliminating the 7-0 shutout loss in Game 1 from their memory and by battling the Yankees into extra innings for an eventual 3-2 walk-off win off the bat of Carlos Correa. However, the Yankees still accomplished a challenging road split in Houston, setting themselves up to take advantage in a big way if they can perform well in their home stadium for the next three games.

Houston will have the advantage on the mound for Tuesday's Game 3, as they hand the ball to the electric Gerrit Cole who has been nearly unstoppable this season including two dominant starts in the ALDS. They will need their bats to back him up and build on their success of Game 2 to come out with a 2-1 advantage in the series. Here is a quick look at Tuesday's Game 3:

Game Facts

When: Tuesday, 3:08 p.m Central.

Where: Yankee Stadium - The Bronx, New York.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Gerrit Cole vs. Luis Severino.

Series: tied 1-1.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Yankees 7, Astros 0Minute Maid Park, Houston TXGreinke (L) vs Tanaka (W)
Game 2Astros 3, Yankees 2 (11 innings)Minute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander (ND) vs Paxton (ND)
Game 3Tuesday 10/15, 3:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYCole vs Severino
Game 4Wednesday 10/16, 7:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYTBD vs TBD
Game 5Thursday 10/17, 7:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYTBD vs TBD
Game 6*Saturday 10/19, 3:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD
Game 7*Sunday 10/20, 6:38 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD

* If necessary
+ Projected Starters

Game Storylines

Can the Cole Train keep rolling along?

After his ALDS Game 5 victory, Gerrit Cole improved to 2-0 this postseason with 25 strikeouts and a 0.57 ERA and matching WHIP. He's been dominant and overpowered opponents for most of the year, but he has turned it up a notch since August where he has gone on his run of eleven straight starts with double-digit strikeouts, while allowing more than two runs just once over that span while allowing one or less in eight of those eleven. Also, during that stretch, he has reliably gone deep into games, reaching at least the seventh inning seven times.

Cole faced these Yankees, albeit a much different version of their lineup, back on April 9th when he allowed three runs over seven innings as the Astros would eventually mount a comeback win to give him a no-decision. The Yankees will be one of his toughest opponents he's faced this year and in one of the most hostile environments. If he can set the tone early and quiet the rowdy New York crowd, he can continue his fantastic stretch of games and help push the Astros ahead in this series.

Houston's offense needs to take another step

After the disappointing shutout loss in Game 1, the Astros responded with some timely offense to tie and eventually get the walk-off win in Game 2. While a few runs may be enough behind Gerrit Cole if he can continue his dominance, Houston's key bats, including a surging Carlos Correa, need to expand on their improvements in Game 2 to take another step forward and capitalize against New York's pitching.

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.

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