It's a must-win game for Houston
Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: World Series Game 3 Preview
The beginning of the 2019 World Series could not have started much worse than it has for the Houston Astros. After finishing the regular season with the best overall record, the home-field advantage they fought so hard to achieve was for naught in Games 1 and 2 in Houston.
The Washington Nationals would not be denied in the first two games of the series, taking down two of the best pitchers in the league this year, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Their ability to steal the first two games on the road has put themselves in prime position to take the Commissioner's Trophy. The pressure is squarely on the Astros going into Friday's Game 3 in D.C. as they must now win four of the next five games to avoid a disappointing end to a great season. Here is a quick look at the critical Game 3:
When: Friday, 7:07 p.m Central.
Where: Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.
Streaming: Fox Sports App.
Pitching matchup: Greinke vs Sanchez.
Series: Nationals lead 2-0.
|Date & Time (Central)||Location||Pitching matchup|
|Game 1||Nationals 5, Astros 4||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||Cole (L) vs Scherzer (W)|
|Game 2||Nationals 12, Astros 3||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||Verlander (L) vs Strasburg (W)|
|Game 3||Friday 10/25, 7:07 PM||Nationals Park, Washington D.C.||Greinke vs Sanchez|
|Game 4||Saturday 10/26, 7:07 PM||Nationals Park, Washington D.C.||TBD vs TBD|
|Game 5*||Sunday 10/27, 7:07 PM||Nationals Park, Washington D.C.||TBD vs TBD|
|Game 6*||Tuesday, 10/29, 7:07 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||TBD vs TBD|
|Game 7*||Wednesday 10/30, 7:08 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston TX||TBD vs TBD|
* If necessary
+ Projected Starters
A must-win game for the Astros
Very few would have predicted that the Nationals would be up 2-0 in this series. Credit where it is due, Washington was overpowering and won those games by force, but it is no less of a shock and defeat for the Astros. The road ahead for them is one that not many can navigate and come out ahead, as they now have to take at least two of the three on the road at Nationals Park to push the series back to Houston for Games 6 and possibly 7.
Furthermore, they'll have to do it with Zack Greinke and possibly a bullpen day in the next two games so that they can go back to their co-aces of Cole and Verlander on regular rest in Games 5 and 6 unless they are forced into using Cole on short rest in Game 4. While it is not an elimination game, it might as well be considering if the Astros lose Game 3, the odds are stacked too high against them to have a significant chance at going on a four-game streak against Washington. Simply put, Houston must win this game. However, if there was a team in the league this year that could break out and come back from a two-game deficit, it's these Astros.
Greinke has to have his best game and have run support
For Houston to have their best chance at taking this game, they will have to get more out of Zack Greinke than they have thus far this postseason. Over his three starts, one the ALDS and two in the ALCS, he has been able to log just fourteen innings while allowing ten earned runs. With a potential bullpen day looming in Game 4, the Astros have to get a lengthier start from Greinke where he doesn't let Washington explode offensively.
If he does his job and keeps it a close game, then it will be up to his offense behind him to get the job done as well. Houston has left 20 on base through the first two games while going 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position. While Wednesday's Game 2 was a blowout where a few extra runs wouldn't have helped them, the lack of offense when it has mattered most has been a symptom of an offense that has not been able to translate their regular-season success to the postseason.
On a positive note, George Springer and Yordan Alvarez have looked much better this series, but it will take a combined effort down the entire lineup to cut the Nationals' series lead to 2-1 with a victory in Game 3. To do so, they'll have to go through Anibal Sanchez, who has allowed just one run in his two starts in these playoffs.
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.