It's finally time for October baseball

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 1 Preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The regular season is over. Individual performances and award hunting is no longer of concern. Now, the Astros turn their attention to being the best group of players and taking each series one game at a time on the quest for the eleven wins and three series victories needed to win their second World Series in three years.

It starts on Friday afternoon with Game 1 of the ALDS against the Wild Card-winning Rays who are coming off a dominant win against the A's in Oakland on Wednesday night. Here is a quick preview of the first game in this best-of-five set:

Game Facts

When: Friday, 1:05 p.m.

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Justin Verlander vs. Tyler Glasnow.

Series: Tied 0-0.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching matchup
Game 1Fri 10/4, 1:05 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston Verlander vs. Glasnow
Game 2Sat 10/5, 8:07 PMMinute Maid Park, Houston Cole vs. Snell+
Game 3Mon 10/7, TBDTropicana Field, St. Petersburg Greinke vs Morton+
Game 4*Tuesday 10/8, TBDTropicana Field, St. Petersburg TBD vs. TBD
Game 5*Thursday 10/10, TBDMinute Maid Park, Houston TBD vs. TBD

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston has the pitching advantage

With the Rays having to use Charlie Morton in the win-or-go-home game on Wednesday night, that shifts the pitching advantage squarely to Houston in terms of the two starters. While Tyler Glasnow certainly has high upside, he is expected to be on a limited pitch count as he continues to work his way back to full strength after a forearm injury sidelined him from May 10th through early September.

Justin Verlander, meanwhile, last pitched on Saturday in his last start of the regular season, and will be rested and ready to go as long as he can. While the Rays may have to get into their bullpen earlier than the Astros expect to, that does not lower the difficulty for Houston's bats. Tampa Bay's relievers are stout and will be a good matchup with the Astros offense all series.

The first taste of home-field advantage in pivotal Game 1

Despite being assigned the earliest game of the slate, it won't sway Astros fans from packing Minute Maid Park. The rowdy crowd and playoff atmosphere will help make a team that went 60-21 at home in 2019 even harder to beat. Although the playoffs are a different animal, starting this series in Houston could be essential for the Astros, who won a series 2-1 here late August after falling 3-1 at Tropicana Field to begin the season.

Every playoff game is important, which goes without saying. Nonetheless, it will be important for Houston to take control of this game early so that they can stop Tampa Bay's momentum they gained in the Wild Card game and get a quick 1-0 lead in this series. That would give them four chances to win two more games, with a split of those games at home and away.

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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome