Justin Verlander will try to finish the ALDS in Game 4
Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 4 preview
It's not easy to win a playoff game on the road in any sport, and when the opposing home team is playing with their backs against the wall, allowing them to catch momentum can wreak havoc for at least one game. The Astros found this out on Monday when the Rays bludgeoned Zack Greinke and Houston's relievers in the 10-3 game that forced a Game 4.
With the Yankees punching their ticket on Monday night by sweeping the Twins, the Astros will look to join them by clinching the ALDS win on Tuesday. Here is a quick preview of the game:
When: Tuesday, 6:07 p.m Central.
Where: Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg, Florida.
Streaming: Fox Sports App.
Pitching matchup: Justin Verlander vs. Diego Castillo.
Series: HOU leads 2-1.
|Date & Time (Central)||Location||Pitching matchup|
|Game 1||Astros 6, Rays 2||Minute Maid Park, Houston||Verlander (W) vs. Glasnow (L)|
|Game 2||Astros 3, Rays 1||Minute Maid Park, Houston||Cole (W) vs. Snell (L)|
|Game 3||Rays 10, Astros 3||Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg||Greinke (L) vs Morton (W)|
|Game 4||Tuesday 10/8, 6:07 PM||Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg||Justin Verlander vs. Diego Castillo|
|Game 5*||Thursday 10/10, TBD||Minute Maid Park, Houston||Gerrit Cole+ vs. TBD|
* If necessary.
+ Projected starter
Verlander wants the ball to finish the series
While Houston carried Jose Urquidy on the ALDS roster as a possible fourth starter in the rotation, it appears that Justin Verlander has managed to win over A.J. Hinch to start Game 4 on short rest. You surely can't say no to Verlander if he says he's ready, and putting him on the mound in a potential series-clinching game, even on three-days rest, puts you in prime position to finish things off.
Still, It will be intriguing to see not only how sharp Verlander will be, but also for how long. A benefit to playing from behind with a significant deficit in Game 3 for the Astros is that they did not have to use their strongest bullpen arms in Ryan Pressly, Will Harris, or Roberto Osuna. If Verlander can get through five to six innings and turn the ball over to those guys with a lead, the Astros will have a great chance. However, if things go sideways and Game 4 is lost, then the Astros will be forced to use Gerrit Cole in Game 5, putting their rotation out of sync for the ALCS, should they make it. It shapes up to be a pivotal game for Verlander and his teammates.
Bullpen day for the Rays
While Houston will send their ace to the mound, the Rays will elect to put together a bullpen day to try and stave off elimination for one more game and force a decisive Game 5. Tampa Bay's bullpen is formidable, so it will not be an easy task for the Astros to power past them. That being said, a bullpen day exposes more arms to Houston's potent lineup, and it only takes one pitcher having a bad day for the Astros to take advantage and put up several runs.
To do so, they'll need their key guys in the top of the order like George Springer (0-for-13 this series) and Michael Brantley (2-for-12 this series) to break out of their slumps and back up Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman who have provided some of the biggest moments at the plate so far.
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.