A battle of the bullpens is on deck for Game 6

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALCS Game 6 Preview

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Despite the disappointing loss in Game 5, which allowed the Yankees to extend the series another game and force the teams to have a quick turnaround to travel back to Houston for Game 6 and a possible Game 7, the Astros are still in the driver's seat. By taking two of three in New York, Houston remains just one win away from ending the series to claim the AL pennant and advance to the World Series. To do so in Game 6, they'll have to win the battle of the bullpens. Here is a preview of the game:

Game Facts

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

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: TBD vs TBD.

Series: Astros lead 3-2.

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 5Yankees 4, Astros 1Yankee Stadium, Bronx NYVerlander (L) vs Paxton (W)
Game 6Saturday 10/19, 7:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD
Game 7*Sunday 10/20, 6:38 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXCole vs Severino+

* If necessary
+ Projected Starters

Game Storylines

It's up to the relievers with the series on the line

Both clubs filling a game with relievers was originally the gameplan for Game 5, had it not been postponed back a day. After taking advantage of an opportunity to have a rematch of Game 2 with Justin Verlander and James Paxton instead, that puts Game 6, and possibly the series, up for grabs for whichever collection of relievers can throw a better combined nine innings at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night.

While neither team has yet announced which bullpen arm will start the game on the mount, we can speculate who the Astros will look to for at least some portion of the game. Brad Peacock, despite making an appearance in Friday's Game 5, only had to throw eight pitches in a solid inning, keeping him available for Game 6. Houston will also lean on Jose Urquidy for part of the game, as he was the likely pitcher that would have been on the mound for Game 5 before the schedule shifted. No matter who throws the first pitch of the game, it will come down to which arm can catch a rhythm and try to eat up several innings.

Houston's bats have to take control of the game

While the Astros will try to string together nine effective innings out of their relievers, it will be for naught if they cannot do a better job at the plate than in Game 5. They went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Friday night and would finish the game having stranded nine runners that could have shifted the momentum of the game. They must do a better job in this crucial area to have a shot at winning what may turn into a slugfest.

While George Springer appears to have gotten back into a rhythm after his big home run in Game 4, followed by a 2-for-5 in Game 5, Houston will need more from the middle of their lineup, especially Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez. Despite generating solid contact in several at-bats, Gurriel is 1-for-20 in this series, while Alvarez is 1-for-19. The Astros will need more production from them and the middle part of this lineup to avoid wasting the scoring opportunities that could put an end to this series.

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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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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