Houston can take control of the series with a win

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: World Series Game 5 Preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After two games, the World Series seemed lost for the Houston Astros. They had lost two games at home with their best pitchers on the mound, and their potent offense that dominated the regular season looked lost at the plate. Now, after getting two huge wins in D.C., the Astros are back in the series with a chance to take control if they can win two fo the next three. Here is a quick rundown of Game 5 of the fall classic that will take place Sunday night:

Game Facts

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

Where: Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.

TV: FOX.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Cole vs Scherzer.

Series: tied 2-2.

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 4Astros 8, Nationals 1Nationals Park, Washington D.C.Urquidy (W) vs Corbin (L)
Game 5Sunday 10/27, 7:07 PMNationals Park, Washington D.C.Cole vs Scherzer
Game 6Tuesday, 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 chance for the Astros to reverse the Game 1 loss

Washington came out of the gate in the World Series firing, and that resulted in a Game 1 win that shocked many. After starting the postseason 3-0 with three dominant starts, Cole looked shaken as he would allow five runs in his start against the Nationals at Minute Maid Park. Those five runs would prove to be the difference in a night where the Astros would come up one run short in the 5-4 loss.

Max Scherzer, meanwhile, allowed just two runs over five innings of work in a start that would earn him a win. Much has changed since the first game of this series, namely: the Astros look like the team that won 107 games in the regular season and won the ALCS against arguably the second-best team in the league. They will have to do better on both sides of the ball in Game 5 to put themselves in position to win their second World Series in three years; a dominant start from Gerrit Cole that goes deep into the game, and an improved offense that gets after and knocks out Scherzer early.

Houston has to keep the offense rolling

If they're going to get to Scherzer and knock him out early, the Astros will have to repeat the success they've had in Games 3 and 4. Several players have stepped up and contributed in the two wins and can easily be the difference in Game 5 with a few swings of the bat. Jose Altuve has been incredible in the postseason, getting a hit in all but one of Houston's games. Michael Brantley has had two great games, going 5-for-9 in D.C. to help spark the revitalized offense that has tied the series.

Then there's Alex Bregman. In an unusual slump in the 2019 postseason, he delivered one of the biggest hits of the series with the grand slam in Game 4, which blew open the game that would eventually be an Astros win. Him getting on a roll and coming through with big moments like that could be the difference in the final games of this series, so Houston needs him to stay loose and confident. While it will be no easy task against Scherzer, the key for Game 5 will be once again getting an early lead to control the momentum of the game, so look for Houston to try and manufacture some runs in the top of the first to quiet the crowd in D.C.

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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Composite photo by Jack Brame

As things continue to relax as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned, a return to a semblance of normalcy seems imminent. The NBA has some parameters in place for a potential return. Training camps are set to open late this month and the season is supposed to open July 31. Whether that's the rumored Disney-centered one-stop shop or another form, they have a plan in place to return. There's also no argument between the league and players going back and forth about money either (MLB could learn a lesson here).

So when it comes to the potential return, how does that fare for the local team? The Rockets were 40-24 and tied for the fifth seed in the West when the season was shut down. Since they're getting ready to return potentially, we need to be looking at what chances they may have in making a run in the playoffs towards an NBA title.



Harden's new physique

According to his new trainer, James Harden has done more cardio workouts and lost some weight. Specifically, he's done more football player workouts as opposed to basketball player workouts. There was a pic of Harden floating around showing an obvious loss of weight. His new-found cardio and weight loss could mean more late-game and late-season success for Harden and the Rockets.

Westbrook's edge

Russell Westbrook has a competitive fire that can't be put out. It's like one of those never-ending burning torches you see at monuments. He wants nothing more than to prove he's a winner on a high level. Given that he's reunited with a long time friend in Harden, his competitive nature could help fill the gap where Harden may lack. These two have proven they can coexist very well this season. Now could be their time to take surge.

Small-ball

When the Rockets traded Clint Capela, they fully committed to small-ball. There were times they didn't have a guy in the lineup over 6'5. The tallest guy that gets regular time is roughly 6'8. The smaller, quicker lineup is an advantage on the offensive end, but can be a huge liability on the defensive end. Given the stoppage and restart of the season, it could help them. Suppose other teams are sluggish and can't get their chemistry straight. Houston's advantage is that they go through one or two guys and eat off their shooting. Shooting can be worked on during times like these, whereas other aspects of your game can't.


I'm not saying the Rockets have a built-in advantage, but they have as good a shot as they've ever had in the past. The field is wide open to any team that's in the playoff hunt. No team will have a built-in advantage over others. With the Rockets' unique brand of ball, they may be able to make a run at a title this season. Couple that with Harden's weight loss and Westbrook's competitive nature, it could be very interesting. Whenever the NBA comes back this season, which I believe they will, I think this team has a legit shot at winning it all.

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