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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

After a short turnaround, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to their Mecca at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the famed Coca-Cola 600. Of all the races in NASCAR, after Daytona this race may be the most important race on the schedule. The tradition started back in 1959 when former driver and hall of famer Curtis Turner teamed up with Burton Smith to build the track and upon its completion, they decided to make the first race at the new track on the same day as the Indy 500. In an effort to draw fans, they made the race 100 miles longer and from there the rest was history. This year's rendition will be somber though as no fans will be permitted to enter due to Covid-19, but even in this time of unrest it will be a relief to continue to see our heroes take on NASCAR's longest race.

For the first time, NASCAR pulled off it's first midweek race and it was a doozy. For most of the race there was a wide range of characters who were up front. Clint Bowyer set the tone early as he went on to win the first two stages but after getting caught in traffic he fell back. To make matters worse, Bowyer was involved in an accident that ended any chance of victory. While it wasn't the outcome he would have hoped for, to see how well he ran is a sign of good things to come for the Kansas native. I look forward to seeing how he rebounds.

With Bowyer out of it, the attention shifted to Chase Elliott. All night it seemed like he had the second best car and looked to be on his way to another victory but after the caution for Bowyer, Elliott lost a ton of track position after a bad pit-stop. This left the sports most popular driver stuck in traffic, but he was able to make his way back to second. In the final laps, he was easily the best car and appeared to be on his way past Denny Hamlin to take the victory but Kyle Busch had other ideas. The defending champion made a sudden right hand turn and veered into Elliott sending him head on into the wall.

It was safe to say that Elliott was not pleased as he gave Busch the one finger salute as he drove by under caution. The race was not able to resume as Mother Nature intervened giving Hamlin his second win of the season. Many fans and experts alike were critical of Busch's stunt, Jeff Gordon was quoted as saying "Not sure what that was all about." When the race was over, Busch was confronted by Elliott's Crew Chief Alan Gufston. When it was said and done security had to be called to separate the two. While it might not have been intentional, Busch has opened up a can of worms in the future for retaliation. It will be fun to watch what happens next.

Overall, the response to NASCAR's midweek race was overwhelmingly positive as it was the third highest watched event on television. As NASCAR continues to be fluid, more and more people are becoming interested. NASCAR journalist and reporter Adam Stern tweeted that more than thirty percent of the viewers of Sunday's race were new viewers. Even though we may not always agree with the way NASCAR does things, I have to say they have done an outstanding job at putting this schedule together. I hope that in the future, NASCAR continues this new tradition.

Moving on to Charlotte, The driver I have winning this weekend is Chase Elliott. In every race this season, Chase has been a force to be reckoned but has simply run into circumstances he can't control. At Vegas before the shutdown, he seemed to have the race in hand until a flat tire ended any chances of victory. Two weeks later at Phoenix, he led ninety-three laps until fading to a seventh place finish and with a new-found fire lit under him after Darlington, Elliott will be like a bull in the china shop come Sunday. While he has been great at every track he has run at, he has been especially fast at Charlotte. He currently has a 10.60 average finish there and has consistently led laps. This week, I think Elliott will get redemption and claim his sixth career victory in one of NASCAR's crown jewels. Look for him to take his #9 Napa Camaro to victory lane.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats)

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome