HOUSTON -- Having blasted four homers to beat the Indians on Friday afternoon in Game 1, the Astros will try to take control of the American League Division Series when they send Gerrit Cole to the mound in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco at Minute Maid Park.
This isn't a must-win game for the Indians, but they would put themselves in a huge hole if they lose Saturday and fall behind 0-2 heading back to Cleveland. In the history of five-game series with the 2-2-1 format, teams that have won Game 1 at home have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent).
:: ALDS schedule and results ::
The Astros, who have won nine of their past 10 home games at Minute Maid Park, have to feel confident behind Cole. Meanwhile, Carrasco will be tasked with shutting down a Houston lineup that banged out 12 hits in Game 1 and looked every bit of the potent offensive club that won the World Series last year.
What do the starting lineups look like?
Indians: Stability has been a staple for the Tribe's offense, and there were no lineup changes for Game 2. The performance in Game 1 was troubling (3-for-30 overall), especially given the backdrop of last year's ALDS struggles. A year ago against the Yankees, the Indians hit .171 with a .550 OPS as a team en route to an early exit.
1. Francisco Lindor, SS
2. Michael Brantley, LF
3. Jose Ramirez, 2B
4. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B
6. Yonder Alonso, 1B
7. Melky Cabrera, RF
8. Yan Gomes, C
9. Jason Kipnis, CF
Astros: Astros manager AJ Hinch went with the same lineup against Carrasco as he did in Game 1 against Corey Kluber, also a right-hander. It's rare for Hinch to stick with the same lineup two games in a row, but he has only two lefties on the bench, one of whom (catcher Brian McCann) will start Game 3.
1. George Springer, CF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Alex Bregman, 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
5. Marwin Gonzalez, LF
6. Carlos Correa, SS
7. Tyler White, DH
8. Josh Reddick, RF
9. Martin Maldonado, C
Who are the starting pitchers?
Indians: A year ago, Carrasco (17-10, 3.38 ERA this season) was the Game 3 starter in the ALDS against the Yankees. The big righty was sharp over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, but Cleveland lost, 1-0, in New York. Now the Tribe is trusting Carrasco with the Game 2 assignment against the reigning World Series champions.
Carrasco finished the season strong, turning in a 2.64 ERA with 158 strikeouts vs. 24 walks in 116 innings over his final 20 appearances (18 starts). The right-hander has a track record of performing better on the road, and that held true in 2018. In 17 road outings, Carrasco turned in a 2.96 ERA for Cleveland.
Astros: Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA) revamped himself in his first year with Houston, finishing second to teammate Justin Verlander in the AL in strikeouts with 276 and leading the Majors with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He'll get the ball in Game 2 against the Indians.
Cole will get his first start in the postseason since the 2015 National League Wild Card game for the Pirates, during which he gave up four runs in five innings as Pittsburgh fell to the Cubs at PNC Park. He also made two starts in the '13 NLDS against the Cardinals and is 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA in three postseason outings.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Indians: Friday's ALDS opener offered a glimpse of how Cleveland plans to use its arms. Righty Trevor Bauer entered in the seventh in an effort to halt Houston's momentum. Cody Allen, who typically works late in games, started that frame. Adam Cimber was used as a righty specialist and Dan Otero finished the game.
The Tribe was able to avoid overextending its other arms, as late-inning relievers Andrew Miller and Brad Hand were not used. Expect the Indians' full staff to be at the ready for Game 2 behind Carrasco.
Astros: If Cole's start is short, Houston has a fully rested Josh James and Collin McHugh ready to go. Will Harris and lefty Tony Sipp also didn't pitch in Game 1.
Thomas Pressly threw 22 pitches in 1 2/3 innings in Game, 1, which doesn't necessarily rule him out for Game. 2. Lance McCullers (11 pitches) and Roberto Osuna (15 pitches) could certainly pitch Saturday since the teams are off on Sunday to travel.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Indians: All of the Tribe's relievers should be good to go.
Astros: All of Houston's relievers should be available, even Pressly.
Any injuries of note?
Who is hot and who is not?
Indians: The best at-bats in Game 1 were by Gomes, who saw 19 pitches in his two meetings with Verlander and came through with a single. From Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season, the Tribe's starting catcher hit .320 with an .856 OPS in 35 games. The middle of Cleveland's lineup (Ramirez, Encarnacion and Donaldson) was held to an 0-for-11 showing in Game 1.
Astros: Springer, Bregman, White and Reddick each had two hits in Game 1, with Springer, Bregman, Altuve and Maldonado hitting homers. Correa's struggles continued, going 0-for-4 with a long flyout to right field in the fourth inning.