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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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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