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.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In what was expected to be a fierce pitcher's duel, Game 1 of the 2019 World Series saw some big offensive moments in the early innings as the Nationals erased an early 2-0 deficit with five unanswered runs to take a 5-2 lead against Gerrit Cole. They would hold on to that lead and take Game 1 against the Astros, 5-4. Washington's star of the night was Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo home run to fuel the Nationals to a 1-0 series lead. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Nationals 5, Astros 4.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer.

Losing Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Astros take an early lead

Although the Nationals would record the first hit of the night on a leadoff single in the top of the inning, it would be the Astros who would get the first runs of the night in the bottom of the first inning. George Springer worked a leadoff walk to start the frame, followed by Jose Altuve, who drilled a single to put two on base. Both would advance a base after a wild pitch to move Springer to third, followed by a steal by Altuve, then Yuli Gurriel drove them in on a two-RBI double off the left-center field wall to give Houston the quick 2-0 lead.

The Nationals immediately cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a solo home run by Ryan Zimmerman off of Gerrit Cole to straightaway center-field to make it a 2-1 game. The Astros threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the third after getting runners on second and third with two outs on a bloop single that fell in by Gurriel, but a strikeout by Carlos Correa would end the inning.

Nationals roar back with five unanswered runs

The Nationals were able to fully erase the 2-0 deficit in the top of the fourth. It came on the second solo home run allowed by Gerrit Cole on the night, this one a leadoff homer to Juan Soto to tie the game. Yordan Alvarez recorded a much-needed hit considering his playoff slump to lead off the bottom of the fourth and should have moved to second after a missed catcher's interference against Josh Reddick instead resulted in Reddick recording the second out of the inning.

George Springer worked a walk next as Houston continued to work Max Scherzer into lengthy at-bats, but both runners would be left stranded as Scherzer got out of another jam. Cole encountered jam of his own in the top of the fifth, issuing his first walk to start the inning followed by a single to put two runners on. After getting an out, Cole would allow an RBI-single as Washington took their first lead at 3-2. With two outs in the inning, Juan Soto would strike again, this time a two-RBI double to extend the Nationals' lead to 5-2 before the inning was over.

Washington goes to their bullpen in the sixth while Cole finishes seven

After a scoreless top of the sixth by Cole, the Nationals moved to another pitcher, bringing in Patrick Corbin to try and hold on to Washington's lead. Corbin was as a potential Game 3 starter, but with the Nationals bullpen having notable struggles, they opted instead to go to his strong arm to try and hold on to get a Game 1 road win, potentially keeping him available for a Game 4 start. He would record a scoreless frame, erasing a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez to keep it a 5-2 deficit for Houston heading to the seventh.

Gerrit Cole would throw one more inning before he was done for the night, getting a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. His final line was not what many expected would it would be, recording his worst start of the postseason: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.

Nationals hold on for Game 1 win

Tanner Rainey was the next reliever for the Nationals, but George Springer welcomed him with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-3. Rainey would then allow back-to-back one-out walks, prompting the move to another reliever for Washington. It would be Daniel Hudson who would come in and get the second out before an infield single loaded the bases for Yordan Alvarez, who would strikeout to end the threat.

First out of Houston's bullpen was Will Harris in the top of the eighth, and he would erase a one-out single by Soto to keep it a two-run game. Kyle Tucker led off the bottom of the eighth with a pinch-hit single against Hudson, who remained in the game for Washington. Tucker would move to second by tagging on a long flyout, then score on an RBI-double by Springer that was mere feet from being a game-tying home run, but instead left the tying run on second base with one out and the score now 5-4. After a flyout by Altuve, the Nationals moved to Sean Doolittle to face Michael Brantley, and Doolittle would win that battle to keep it a one-run game.

Joe Smith would come in for the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game and give Houston a chance to tie or walk it off in the bottom half of the inning. Smith did his job, keeping the Nationals off the board. Doolittle would face the middle of Houston's order in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Astros in order to finish off Houston's Game 1 loss.

Up Next: Game 2 of the 2019 World Series will start at 7:07 PM Central on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It offers another terrific pitching matchup on paper with Justin Verlander for the Astros going up against Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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