The Astros are going for the clean sweep

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 3 preview

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the incredible start by Gerrit Cole fueling them to a win on Saturday night, the Astros are now in the driver's seat with a 2-0 lead in the ALDS against the Rays. Game 3 may be the most challenging yet for Houston, with the series shifting to Tampa Bay's home stadium at Tropicana Field, and going up against their toughest starting pitcher in Charlie Morton.

Still, Houston is an understandable favorite to win the game and make it a clean sweep to advance to the ALCS. Here is a quick rundown of how and what to watch for in Game 3 on Monday afternoon:

Game Facts

When: Monday, 12:05 p.m Central.

Where: Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg, Florida.

TV: MLB Network.

Streaming: MLB.TV (Subscription or Cable Login Required)

Pitching matchup: Zack Greinke vs. Charlie Morton.

Series: HOU leads 2-0.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Astros 6, Rays 2Minute Maid Park, HoustonVerlander (W) vs. Glasnow (L)
Game 2Astros 3, Rays 1Minute Maid Park, HoustonCole (W) vs. Snell (L)
Game 3Monday 10/7, 12:05 PMTropicana Field, St. PetersburgGreinke vs Morton
Game 4*Tuesday 10/8, TBDTropicana Field, St. PetersburgTBD vs. TBD
Game 5*Thursday 10/10, TBDMinute Maid Park, HoustonTBD vs. TBD

* If necessary.

Game Storylines

Time for Greinke to show that the trade was worth it

While Houston's trade for Zack Greinke was not solely to improve their playoff chances in 2019, but rather to add a piece for the next couple of seasons, bringing him in to be a part of the playoff rotation and aid in playoff success was a large part of the consideration. He will be well-rested, having last pitched on September 25th in Seattle when he brought a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Mariners.

However, Greinke has a career 3-4 record and 4.03 ERA in the postseason, with his most recent appearances in 2017 with the Diamondbacks where he had a rough 3.2 inning, four-run start in the Wild Card game that Arizona would end up winning, then followed that with a five-inning, three-run loss to the Dodgers in the NLDS. Also, he faced this Rays team back on August 29th in Houston, a game where they tagged him with five earned runs, including two homers, over five and two-thirds innings of work. While Greinke may have the strikeout numbers of Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole, he will still need to bring his A-game to induce soft contact and easy outs to help the Astros win this ALDS.

Chance for ALDS Sweep in back-to-back seasons

If they do clinch the sweep on Monday afternoon, that will make it two-straight years where the Astros have done so, also winning the ALDS in three-straight games against the Indians in 2018. They would also improve to 9-1 in ALDS games over the last three years, having lost just one game against the Red Sox in the 2017 series before clinching it 3-1 in Game 4. To do so, they'll have to go through former teammate Charlie Morton.

While Houston was able to get after Morton for six runs over four innings on August 27th, that game was in Houston. If you rewind to the first series of the 2019 season, the Astros had a tough offensive series at Tropicana field, including losing to Morton, who held them to two runs over five innings. The Astros have had notable struggles in St. Petersburg; when you look at the last three years combined as visitors in that ballpark, they have gone 48-for-355 at the plate collectively, a paltry .211 average (according to FanGraphs). They will need to erase those struggles from their memory and instead focus on replicating the offensive success that has gotten them to this position.

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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