Houston will look to wrap up the series on Friday

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

Alex Bregman
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Alex Bregman and the Astros will look to wrap up the ALCS on Friday

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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Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

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