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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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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