The Astros must win Sunday’s Game Two behind Justin Verlander if they have any hope of winning the ALCS.
As has been the case far too often this postseason, the Astros offense fell flat in ALCS Game One. They mustered only three hits, all of them singles, and failed to score a run. With Justin Verlander toeing the rubber in Game Two, the game is a must-win if the Astros have any hope of advancing to the World Series.
Zack Greinke pitched decently on Saturday — unspectacular but not awful. His six-inning, three-run performance qualifies as a quality start, but in the end it didn’t matter. The offense simply couldn’t get anything going against the Yankees pitching.
The Astros have to like their chances with Verlander on the mound. He’s on regular rest pitching at home, so he should be able to hold the Yankees bats at bay. The offense has to show up against James Paxton and give Verlander a lead to protect.
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Game Two Pivotal
The fact that the Astros lost Game One means they’re going to have to win at least one game at Yankee Stadium. With Gerrit Cole pitching there in Game Three, they’ve got a solid chance of doing so.
If they fail to win Game Two, however, they’ll head to the Bronx in a 2-0 hole, meaning they’ll have to take two of three games there. That’s a tall order for anyone, especially in the postseason. They would probably start Jose Urquidy in Game Four, with Greinke pitching again in Game Five.
In either of those games, the offense would have to step up and score some runs for the team to have any chance. It’s certainly possible, but you’d rather win Game Two and Game Three so there’s not as much pressure to steal a win in Game Four or Game Five.
If the Astros can escape the Bronx and bring the series back to Houston, they’ll have Verlander lined up to pitch Game Six and Cole in Game Seven. That’s really all you can ask for — having your two aces out there to try and finish off the series.
But at this point, Game Two is key. The Astros simply must win tonight if they’re going to have a fighting chance of getting the series back to Houston. Verlander’s going to do his job, so the offense just needs to get off the mat and start hitting the ball and putting together competitive at-bats. If not, the series may already be over.