Houston will look to wrap up the series on Friday

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALCS Game 5 Preview

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping the first game of this series to start on the wrong foot, the Astros have roared back to rattle off three straight wins, including the first two of the three games at Yankee Stadium, to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. With games 4 and 5 shifting back a day due to Wednesday's rainout, that has allowed both teams to go back to their Game 2 starters.

The Yankees will send out James Paxton as they try to avoid elimination, while Houston will look to their ace, Justin Verlander, to try and clinch the AL pennant for the second time in three years. Here is a preview of ALCS Game 5 that will take place Friday:

Game Facts

When: Friday, 6:08 p.m Central.

Where: Yankee Stadium - The Bronx, New York.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Justin Verlander vs. James Paxton

Series: Astros lead 3-1.

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 4Astros 8, Yankees 3Yankee Stadium, Bronx NYGreinke (ND) vs Tanaka (L)
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

Verlander on the mound to go for the clinch

As soon as Game 5 was announced to be moved to be on Friday, it was a no-brainer to put Verlander on the mound for it. Even before the Game 4 win when Houston was ahead 2-1, you would still want Verlander on the bump even if the series was a 2-2 split. The fact of the matter is, if you have Justin Verlander on regular rest, you start him, period. Now, even more so, with a chance to finish off the Yankees and clinch the series and earn a few days of rest before Tuesday's World Series Game 1, you hand the ball to your ace.

Verlander fell victim to one big swing from Aaron Judge in Game 2 of this series, which resulted in two runs that at the time gave the Yankees a one-run lead before the Astros would go on to tie and eventually get the walk-off win. Other than that, he was great in that outing, allowing just five hits over his six and two-thirds innings of work. Look for Verlander to come out with determination as he attempts to replicate that success against this potent Yankees lineup in Game 5 to come through for his team and finish this series with him on the mound.

Houston's bats need to keep rolling

It's no question that Houston's bats have won the battle at the plate in these last three games. New York has failed to capitalize on several opportunities to score and shift the momentum their way, and instead have allowed the Astros to steal it by manufacturing runs through "small ball" or big-time home runs. Houston should look to do more of the same in Game 5 by staying confident at the plate starting in the top of the first inning.

If they can score early to start controlling the story of the game, they may be able to repeat the success of Game 4 and push the Yankees off their game and get after an already thin pitching staff for New York. With George Springer and Carlos Correa both coming through with big home runs in the previous games, it's time for some other struggling bats like Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel to step up and break their slumps as the team is now in the driver's seat to make a World Series appearance.

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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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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