Houston is in position to take 3-1 lead in the series

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALCS Game 4 Preview

Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Getting a win on the road in the playoffs is a tough feat and doing it in the first game of a series in enemy territory with a hostile crowd excited to make a difference in the game, even more so. The Astros did that on Tuesday with the win at Yankee Stadium in ALCS Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead behind a great start from Gerrit Cole and enough offense to get the job done.

Game 4, initially scheduled for Wednesday night, was postponed until Thursday night due to inclement weather, with Game 5 moving from Thursday to Friday. The shift in schedule sets up a stretch of possibly four consecutive days of games to conclude this series if all are needed. Shifting Games 4 and 5 back a day also opens up pitching options for both teams, with the Astros and Yankees avoiding what would have been a bullpen day on Wednesday and instead creates a rematch of Game 1 between Zack Greinke and Masahiro Tanaka. Here is a preview of Game 4:

Game Facts

When: Thursday, 7:08 p.m Central.

Where: Yankee Stadium - The Bronx, New York.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Zack Greinke vs Masahiro Tanaka.

Series: Astros lead 2-1.

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 3Astros 4, Yankees 1Yankee Stadium, Bronx NYCole (W) vs Severino (L)
Game 4Thursday 10/17, 7:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYGreinke vs Tanaka
Game 5Friday 10/18, 6:08 PMYankee Stadium, Bronx NYVerlander+ vs Paxton+
Game 6*Saturday 10/19, 7:08 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

Houston needs more from Greinke

Zack Greinke lasted just eleven outs in ALDS Game 3 while giving up six runs to the Rays at Tropicana Field. Back at home for ALCS Game 1, he performed better, going six innings against these Yankees and allowing three earned runs over that span, which could have been enough to keep his team in the game if not for the offensive woes that would result in a shutout loss.

The Astros will need a better start than those first two from their new starter. After the loss to start the series, both Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have managed to hold New York's bats in check. With a 2-1 lead, Houston must capitalize on the opportunity to move to 3-1 in this series and put them in need of just one more win over their last three with a start from Verlander and Cole in two of those.

That starts with Greinke, who will need to execute at the highest level and get some runs behind him, to beat out a Yankees lineup that will be out to even the series with a big offensive outing. Additionally, with a potential bullpen day awaiting them in Game 6 or 7, if the series advances that far, Houston will need as many innings as Greinke can provide them while keeping them ahead or within striking distance.

Alvarez and other Houston bats need to find a rhythm

After going 6-for-19 with one RBI in the ALDS, Yordan Alvarez has lost his rhythm at the plate in the ALCS. He's out to an 0-for-10 with six strikeouts in the first three games and has looked visibly frustrated in the process. A.J. Hinch shook up the lineup in Game 3, moving Alvarez down to sixth in the order behind Yuli Gurriel. While I think his incredible numbers in the regular season and contribution in the ALDS earns him some patience and trust, he's due for a big game to snap out of his mini-slump.

Another of Houston's big bats that could use a jump-start is George Springer. To his credit, he had the big home run in Game 2 of this series, which kept them in the game before the eventual walk-off. However, that's the only hit he's had this series, and he now sits 4-for-33 in what has been a mostly disappointing October for 2017's World Series MVP. He is someone, especially in the leadoff spot, that could do wonders for the lineup with a big game to set the tone and build momentum. Look for more offense out of the Astros as they try to wear down New York's pitching staff in these concluding games of the ALCS.

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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