Astros vs. A's series breakdown: Attention to detail
Mon, Oct. 5 - HOU: Lance McCullers Jr. vs. OAK: Chris Bassitt
Tue, Oct. 6 - HOU: Framber Valdez vs. OAK: Sean Manaea
Rest of Series TBD
Ridin' high - The Astros swiftly took care of business against the Minnesota Twins, sweeping the best-of-three series from the Twinkies. Houston will look to ride that momentum into their series against Oakland. Oakland required three games to beat the White Sox at home, and Oakland was on the ropes in game three before coming back to win it. One of these teams clearly played better baseball in the wild card round.
Win the Details - Houston won their series because of small details. Jorge Polanco's error in game one cost Minnesota. Walks and grinded-out at-bats were the edge in game two. Oakland is a better team than Minnesota, so that attention to detail needs to stick. While the Astros won the details, they weren't perfect, as Kyle Tucker and Josh Reddick both had misplayed balls off the wall in Minnesota.
Neutral sites & warm weather - The weather in Minnesota was the worst the Astros have had to play in all year, as they faced cool temperatures and rainy weather. Combine that with the spacious Target Field, and it quickly became a suppressed offensive environment. Dodger Stadium is equally cavernous, but the warm weather will help the offensive environment. Plus, neither of these teams are at home. The Astros road woes are seemingly behind them.
Fabulous Framber - Framber Valdez has earned the start in game two following his magnificent relief outing in game one. Valdez became the first pitcher since Madison Bumgarner in 2014 to pitch five scoreless relief innings in the postseason. Yes, Bumgarner's team won the World Series that year.