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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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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