It's finally time for October baseball
Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 1 Preview
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:
When: Friday, 1:05 p.m.
Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.
Streaming: Fox Sports App.
Pitching matchup: Justin Verlander vs. Tyler Glasnow.
Series: Tied 0-0.
|Date & Time (Central)||Location||Pitching matchup|
|Game 1||Fri 10/4, 1:05 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston||Verlander vs. Glasnow|
|Game 2||Sat 10/5, 8:07 PM||Minute Maid Park, Houston||Cole vs. Snell+|
|Game 3||Mon 10/7, TBD||Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg||Greinke vs Morton+|
|Game 4*||Tuesday 10/8, TBD||Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg||TBD vs. TBD|
|Game 5*||Thursday 10/10, TBD||Minute Maid Park, Houston||TBD vs. TBD|
* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.
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.