Justin Verlander will try to finish the ALDS in Game 4

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 4 preview

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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:

Game Facts

When: Tuesday, 6:07 p.m Central.

Where: Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg, Florida.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Justin Verlander vs. Diego Castillo.

Series: HOU leads 2-1.

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 3Rays 10, Astros 3Tropicana Field, St. PetersburgGreinke (L) vs Morton (W)
Game 4Tuesday 10/8, 6:07 PMTropicana Field, St. PetersburgJustin Verlander vs. Diego Castillo
Game 5*Thursday 10/10, TBDMinute Maid Park, HoustonGerrit Cole+ vs. TBD

* If necessary.
+ Projected starter

Game Storylines

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.

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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