Houston will look to Verlander to try and even the series

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: World Series Game 2 Preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Coming in as heavy favorites to win the series, and with their hottest pitcher on the mound at home in Game 1, the Game 1 loss by the Astros to the Nationals is a disappointment. However, the Astros are no strangers to this situation, having experienced a similar situation in ALCS Game 1 against the Yankees.

Just like in that series, they have Justin Verlander at home in Game 2 to even the series and shift the momentum back their way. Here is a quick look at World Series Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 7:07 p.m Central.

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.


Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Verlander vs Strasburg.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Nationals 5, Astros 4Minute Maid Park, Houston TXCole vs Scherzer
Game 2Wednesday 10/23, 7:07 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander vs Strasburg
Game 3Friday 10/25, 7:07 PMNationals Park, Washington D.C.Greinke+ vs Sanchez+
Game 4Saturday 10/26, 7:07 PMNationals Park, Washington D.C.TBD vs TBD
Game 5*Sunday 10/27, 7:07 PMNationals Park, Washington D.C.TBD vs TBD
Game 6*Tuesday, 10/29, 7:07 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD
Game 7*Wednesday 10/30, 7:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXTBD vs TBD

* If necessary
+ Projected Starters

Game Storylines

Another terrific pitching matchup

Although the Game 1 matchup between Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer ended up yielding more runs than predicted, Game 2 offers another chance for two high-caliber pitchers to hold the opposing lineup at bay. The Nationals will look to Stephen Strasburg to try and steal both road games in Houston before going back to Nationals Park. Including a three-inning appearance out of the bullpen in the Wild Card game, Strasburg has thrown 22 innings in the postseason while allowing five runs (four earned). He is, however, coming off his best start of the bunch, a seven-inning shutout performance against the Cardinals in the NLCS, where he struck out twelve.

Houston will trust the ball with their potential Cy Young winner and co-ace, Justin Verlander. Unlike Strasburg, who is coming off his best start, Verlander will be looking to right the ship after a horrible first inning in the Bronx in ALCS Game 5 where he allowed four runs on two homers to the Yankees, which would ultimately be the undoing of the Astros in that game. Verlander did leave that game with something to build on, finishing his next six innings scoreless. He will look to have a game more like his first of this postseason, a seven-inning one-hit outing against the Rays in ALDS Game 1.

Houston must do more with their opportunities

While the Nationals scoring five runs on Gerrit Cole was undoubtedly impressive and ultimately earned them the win in World Series Game 1, it was Houston being unable to take advantage of critical opportunities that left them coming up short in the game. When it was all said and done, Houston was 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, leaving eleven runners on base, which is monumental in a game that would be decided by just one run.

On the positive side, the Astros had two big healthy signs at the plate in the loss on Tuesday with George Springer looking like the offensive force he was in the 2017 World Series, along with Yordan Alvarez, who went 2-for-3 with a walk in a possibly slum-breaking game. To take Game 2 and even the series, they will have to convert more scoring opportunities.

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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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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