It's a must-win game for Houston

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: World Series Game 3 Preview

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

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:

Game Facts

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

Where: Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.

TV: FOX.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Greinke vs Sanchez.

Series: Nationals lead 2-0.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Nationals 5, Astros 4Minute Maid Park, Houston TXCole (L) vs Scherzer (W)
Game 2Nationals 12, Astros 3Minute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander (L) vs Strasburg (W)
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

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.

Getty Images

So the Houston Astros, using cameras and video monitors and a labyrinthine baseball-bat-and-trash-can notification system, were stealing signs from opposing teams. From all indications, this is cheating and this is not kosher.

Let me just clarify that:

You are allowed to steal signs, you just can't do it electronically. In other words, it is really not wrong until you utilize the best means of technology.

Got it. I accept this, because, well, I don't feel like arguing this.

(I guess I'm glad the medical profession doesn't use this same standard. Uh, we could treat your headaches with Ibuprofen and heating pads, but let's stick with the ancient method of an elixir containing human blood and drilling a hole in the skull to relieve pressure.)

The Astros deserved MLB's punishment, but, as a student of history, Couch Slouch would like to point out that there have been multiple instances of similar swindling, defrauding, scamming, flimflamming, hoodwinking, fleecing, shafting, video-sign-stealing chicanery in modern and pre-modern times.

For your edification, here are some prominent examples:

Socrates and Plato: In an attempt to outsmart his perpetually smug teacher at the third annual Greek National Spelling Bee held at the Grand Hyatt Athens in 401 B.C., Plato sparked controversy by employing shadow puppets on the brightly lit north wall of the banquet hall to help him spell out different entries. The winning word: "aëricumbens."

Marie Antoinette: The somewhat unpopular queen of France hired a sketch artist to secretly document agitators cutting into bread lines. Once the drawings were discovered, along with a recording of her saying, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!" she was guillotined on Oct. 16, 1793 outside of a Le Pain Quotidien just before the lunch rush.

Burr-Hamilton duel: On the morning of July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton met at a dueling ground in Weehawken, N.J., near Bed Bath & Beyond. They agreed to stand back-to-back, then each would take 10 paces before firing. But Burr had one of his seconds hold a large vanity mirror in front of him, so he could see precisely where Hamilton was at the conclusion of the 10 steps. Burr then fired a fatal shot into Hamilton's lower abdomen.

Battle of the Little Bighorn: As George Armstrong Custer led U.S. troops toward Little Bighorn Valley on June 25, 1876, Lakota chief Crazy Horse utilized two sublime tactics to outmaneuver the lieutenant colonel: A primitive GPS device, tracking the government soldiers' movement via Pringles left on the incoming trail, combined with smoke signals sent back to the camp. This allowed Native American forces to ambush Custer and his infantry.

"Rear Window": In direct violation of HOA regulations, photographer J.J. "Jeff" Jefferies – confined to his condo because of a broken leg – routinely used binoculars to eavesdrop on his Greenwich Village neighbors in 1954. This led him to witnessing a marital spat, followed by his suspicions that the husband killed his wife and buried something incriminating in the garden. The neighbor was arrested but eventually acquitted of murder charges while Jefferies got convicted under the city's recently enacted peeping Tom laws.

Macy's vs. Gimbels: During the famed department-store rivalry in the 1960s and '70s, Gimbels – using a Polaroid camera with a telephoto lens – took snapshots of Macy's shoppers' credit cards as they paid at the register to steal customers. Did Gimbels tell Macy's? No. But Macy's found out through an anonymous whistleblower; Gimbels lost face and went out of business in 1986.

New York City garbage strike: Boy, the streets sure stank of garbage when the sanitation workers walked out in 1968. Teamsters leaders sped up talks the old-fashioned way – they woke up city negotiators each morning with one trash can thrown through a living room window, with two trash cans on off-days and three on weekends. When all else failed, they took a baseball bat to Mayor John Lindsay's office and asked him if he wanted to step outside.

New England Patriots: Uh, duh.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated his relationship with Antonio Brown until the free-agent wide receiver seeks help. Exactly what type of help? (Ron Kirkpatrick; Chicago)

A. Frankly, I thought Brown might end his relationship with Rosenhaus until ITAL he END ITAL got help.

Q. Are the regular LSU boosters annoyed they were not invited to personally hand out cash to the players in the Superdome after the championship win? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Nah, that was scheduled for the Red Lobster in Baton Rouge the following afternoon.

Q. Given their history, would it count toward diversity if the Cleveland Browns hired their first competent coach? (Rich Tucker; Falls Church, Va.)

A. We may never find out.

Q. Would MLB have considered managing the Mets punishment enough for Carlos Beltran's role in the Astros cheating scandal? (Stuart Gavurin; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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