Houston has a huge chance to tie the series

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: World Series Game 4 Preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With an impressive showing in the first game in D.C. on Friday in World Series Game 3, the Astros were able to get back into the series and avoid going down 3-0 and instead made it a 2-1 deficit. That makes Game 4 pivotal for both teams, as a victory for the Nationals puts them back in the driver's seat, while a win for Houston would give them the upper hand for the rest of the series. Here is a quick look at Saturday's crucial game in this series:

Game Facts

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

Where: Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.

TV: FOX.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Urquidy vs Corbin.

Series: Nationals lead 2-1.

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 3Astros 4, Nationals 1Nationals Park, Washington D.C.Greinke (ND) vs Sanchez (L)
Game 4Saturday 10/26, 7:07 PMNationals Park, Washington D.C.Urquidy vs Corbin
Game 5Sunday 10/27, 7:07 PMNationals Park, Washington D.C.Cole vs Scherzer+
Game 6*Tuesday, 10/29, 7:07 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXVerlander vs Strasburg+
Game 7*Wednesday 10/30, 7:08 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston TXGreinke vs Sanchez+

* If necessary
+ Projected Starters

Game Storylines

A massive opportunity for Houston

As stated earlier, this game is crucial on both sides. If Houston loses, they are down 3-1 and will have to win the final three games of the series. However, if they can steal another game on the road, then the odds shift back to being in their favor in a big way. Despite the horrible start to the series by losing the first two games at home, that's what this series could become: a best-of-three.

While the first two starts with Cole and Verlander on the mound did not go their way, they remain the two aces you want to have at your disposal in a best-of-three situation. They've already won their way to another start with Cole; now, they need to push the series back to Houston for at least another game to get to Verlander. With that hard-earned opportunity on the horizon, the Astros should do all they can to continue the momentum they created in Game 3 to stay in the win column.

How deep can Urquidy go?

Before they can start thinking about coming back to Houston with a chance to win the series, though, they'll have to take care of business on Saturday in what is expected to be a bullpen day. It starts with Jose Urquidy, who the Astros have given the nod as the starter in the game. After being in consideration to start ALCS Game 6, Houston's last bullpen day, the Astros instead sent Brad Peacock to the mound to start the game. Peacock would provide 1.2 innings in that game while allowing a run, while later in the game, Urquidy would impress with 2.2 innings while allowing just one run on a solo homer.

While the Astros will have all hands on deck in terms of their bullpen, it would be a massive benefit if Urquidy can come out hot and eat up several innings and into the middle innings or beyond. Not only would that improve their chances of winning Game 4, but it would also help keep their bullpen usage manageable for the rest of the series behind starts by Cole, Verlander, and Greinke, depending on how far the series goes.

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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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