2022 ALCS Game 1 Preview: facts and storylines for Astros vs. Yankees

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Christian Smith/AP/Shutterstock (13057592g) Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. watches from the dugout during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, in Houston Mariners Astros Baseball, Houston, United States – 30 Jul 2022

2022 ALCS Game 1 Preview: facts and storylines for Astros vs. Yankees

It’s the matchup we thought we’d get and now lies before us; the matchup of the top two teams in the AL in the regular season and now in the postseason: Astros vs. Yankees. 

The 106-win Astros, fresh off of a three-game sweep of the Mariners despite an 18-inning marathon in Game 3, have had time to practice and prepare in Houston while awaiting their opponent. With the days off leading up to the start of this series, the Astros have been able to set their rotation and rest their bullpen. The 99-win Yankees, on the other hand, dealt with a rain-postponed ALDS Game 5, where they dispatched the Guardians and quickly traveled to Houston late Tuesday night for an immediate start to the ALCS. As a result, New York will not be able to start their ace Gerrit Cole in the series opener and will be dealing with some key, high-leverage relievers having logged major innings coming into this series.

All the records and buildup goes out the window as soon as that first pitch is tossed, though, and here’s how things shape up for ALCS Game 1:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 10/19/2022, 6:37 PM Central.

Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas.

TV/Streaming: TBS / Watch TBS App

Pitching Matchup: Justin Verlander (18-4, 1.75 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (14-5, 3.91 ERA).

Series: tied 0-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching Matchup
Game 1Wed 10/19/2022, 6:37 PMMinute Maid Park, HoustonVerlander vs. Taillon
Game 2Thu 10/20/2022, 6:37 PMMinute Maid Park, HoustonValdez vs. Severino^
Game 3Sat 10/22/2022, 4:07 PMYankee Stadium, BronxMcCullers Jr. vs. Cole^
Game 4Sun 10/23/2022, 6:07 PMYankee Stadium, BronxTBD vs. Cortes^
Game 5*Mon 10/24/2022, 3:07 PMYankee Stadium, BronxTBD
Game 6*Tue 10/25/2022, 5:07 PMMinute Maid Park, HoustonTBD
Game 7*Wed 10/26/2022, 6:37 PMMinute Maid Park, HoustonTBD
* If neccessary.
^ Projected starters

Bounceback needed for Verlander

Justin Verlander allowed ten hits, six runs, and one home run over four innings of work in his first game of the 2022 postseason against the Mariners. It was a forgettable performance, and that’s precisely what Houston’s ace needs to do as he takes the ball to start the ALCS: forget it and leave it behind him. 

His 18-4 record and 1.75 ERA in the regular season, which will land him a Cy Young award, is proof enough that he’s got elite stuff this year; he just needs to bring it against the Yankees as he did back on June 24th of this year. He allowed just one run over seven innings of work in that outing, giving up four hits as the Astros would go on to win that one 3-1, one of their five wins in the seven-game regular season series. 

A quality start, meaning six innings with three runs or less, is what the Astros need from him to start this series on a solid note, with hopefully some run support behind him. 

Taking advantage of New York’s tight timeline

It’s all about momentum in the playoffs, as has been evident by the early exits by some of the regular season’s best teams like the Mets, Braves, and Dodgers so far. As mentioned, the Yankees will be taking the field for Game 1, having just landed in Houston less than 24 hours prior. One might say that has them at a disadvantage, while you could also argue that they are riding high, being fresh off a dominating Game 5 to advance.

In any case, the Astros have a chance to take control of this series from the get-go if they can continue what they’ve been doing and get the job done, even if it takes out-slugging a somehow rejuvenated New York offense or outdueling a sharp Yankees pitching staff. This is what securing that best record in the AL was all about, getting these first two games at home, so Houston needs to take advantage of that and get things going with a victory. 

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