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.

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and blogger. Check out her new blog, HTown Run Tourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy. Join her facebook group: H-Town Run Tourist

Six years ago, I got this great idea to become a tourist of Houston on foot. I had no idea what I was doing or where it was going. All I knew was to put on my running shoes, walk out the door, and just go. Go learn, go talk, go ask without judgements. What I found is that Houston was full of diversity. We all knew that. However, let yourself be immersed in it. Look and listen to the sounds of different languages being spoken around you. Smell the scents of the different cuisines. You would think you were in a foreign country. This made me more curious.

As I explored the emotion of curiosity, it led me to change my behavior. Where I might have rushed to this place and to the next, I took it slower. Where, usually, I would have just assumed that I already knew, I found myself asking more questions. When I asked more questions, I had to acknowledge that I did not already know, so I practiced listening. As I listened more, I felt compelled to show more appreciation to the person who interrupted their busy day to educate me. This made me feel grateful.

I took that gratitude and wanted to share with others. It blew my mind when people would say that they hated Houston. It was boring. The people are mean and it was ugly. And even more shocking was Houston is not walkable. Instead of getting offended, I decided to do my part in brightening up the day of the Houstonians who were stuck in a rut. Who saw and did the same things day after day. I didn't judge because I knew they could get out of that rut by simply deciding that today they do something different. I braced myself for rejection, but put myself out there to share the wonderful things that I had learned about Houston. Given the chance, the vast majority, was ready to learn a different way. This made me proud.

It is true that 2020 has been full of disasters. These are opportunities if we choose to see them that way. If anything that COVID-19 taught me the answer was not MORE, but it is LESS. We have the tendency to take on too much, we had the unique opportunity to take on less. Thus, instead of going to exhaustion, we had the opportunity to rest.

Then, the tragedy of the death of Houston's own George Floyd happened. It could not have happened at a worse time. My heart goes out to his family. Some might use it as an opportunity to work out their own frustrations by causing more problems with violence and looting. My hope is that whatever happens will be an expression of appropriate sadness, but with Houston's best attributes; curiosity, gratitude, and pride. Instead of LESS it is time for MORE. MORE curiosity. To see if Houston's law enforcement cares about the well-being of Houston's black community and make changes in protocols. MORE gratitude. For the opportunity to express the frustration in a peaceful way. MORE pride. To not destroy this city and give it over to violence possibly doing more damage to the economics of business owners. We can see this as the opportunity to take time to heal.

Houston has changed. As I restart my exploration, I'm not looking for LESS. I'm looking for MORE this time. I'm looking with MORE curiosity. Because I know that we have even MORE to show each other. I'm looking with MORE gratitude because we have endured so much already and there are better times ahead. And, I'm looking with MORE pride because just as we did it before, we still have it in us to do it again. I have one request: if you see me in the streets, promise me that you will say hello.

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