After playing an all-around game to beat the White Sox in Game 1 on Thursday, the Astros will try to take control of the American League Division Series in Friday’s Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros went 4-0 against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park in the regular season and walloped the White Sox, 6-1, on Thursday. The White Sox will be looking to split both games in Houston before heading home to Chicago.
When is the game and how can I watch it
The game will air on MLB Network at 1:07 p.m. CT Friday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
White Sox: With a left-hander on the mound for Houston, Andrew Vaughn took the lineup spot of Gavin Sheets at DH, while José Abreu returned to first after starting the ALDS opener as the DH.
Astros: Facing another right-hander in Lucas Giolito in Game 2, Houston kept the same lineup from Game 1, except Michael Brantley moved from left field to DH and Yordan Alvarez switched from DH to left.
Who are the starting pitchers?
White Sox: Lucas Giolito (11-9, 3.53), who was in consideration to be the Game 1 starter, will try to bring the White Sox even in this best-of-five series. Giolito has a 1.57 ERA over three career starts at Minute Maid Park and produced a 2.65 ERA during the second half of this season. Giolito won his first career playoff start last year in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series in Oakland, a series eventually lost in three by the White Sox.
“I'm definitely not as nervous as I was last year,” said Giolito prior to Thursday’s Game 1 loss. “The nerves kind of ended up working in my favor, kept me focused.
“But having experience in anything is going to make you more prepared for the next time you do it. That was a good one. I'm looking forward to having another good one tomorrow.”
Astros: Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA) is a lefty who’s been better against right-handers (.626 opposing OPS) than he has against left-handers (.717), thanks to one of the best curveballs in the league. That’s key against the White Sox. Like Lance McCullers Jr., the key will be controlling his walks. He averaged 3.88 walks per nine innings.
Valdez is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in two starts against the White Sox, who tagged him for four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings July 18 in Chicago. “I feel comfortable throwing all my different pitch selections against them,” Valdez said. “The last time out, I felt good. I felt comfortable going against that lineup. They executed on a few pitches, but I feel like I just need to make a couple little adjustments, and I'll be ready to have success against them.”
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
White Sox: Reynaldo López pitched two innings in relief during Thursday’s loss. But aside from a 26-pitch scoreless effort from Garrett Crochet and 1 1/3 scoreless innings from José Ruiz, the bullpen is in good shape, despite Lance Lynn’s abbreviated start. Giolito has the ability to work deep into games, having thrown a shutout at Minute Maid on May 23, 2019.
If Giolito can give the White Sox anywhere from 5-7 quality innings, high leverage relievers such as Aaron Bummer, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel will be ready to go leading into closer Liam Hendriks.
Astros: With a five-run lead in Game 1, manager Dusty Baker still went to his key bullpen arms late in the game to try to close it out. As a result, setup man Kendall Graveman threw 25 pitches and closer Ryan Pressly threw 21 pitches. Still, both were well-rested entering Thursday and will have a day off Friday, so there should be no limitations on them in Game 2 if the game is close.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
White Sox: López would be unavailable, and possibly Crochet.
Any injuries of note?
White Sox: José Abreu knocked out two hits and drove in a run Thursday, but did so while battling flu-like symptoms plaguing him since this past Saturday. The good news was that Abreu’s fever didn’t return, but the bad news is Abreu admitted to being less than 100 percent and clearly looked that way. Knowing Abreu’s grit and fortitude, he’ll be back in at designated hitter at the very least Friday.
“He'll give anything for this team,” Giolito said. “He’ll give anything for all the guys that play alongside him.”
Astros: The Astros are as healthy as they’ve been all year.
Who is hot and who is not?
White Sox: The White Sox as a team didn’t do much for the first six innings against McCullers. They battled back in the last three innings, putting up competitive at-bats against McCullers, Graveman and closer Pressly. Abreu and Luis Robert finished with two hits apiece, while Yoán Moncada singled and walked.
“That's what I was talking about when I was trying to look at the positive of this game,” said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. “I think in the last few innings we showed the kind of offense we have, the kind of offense we've been carrying throughout the whole season, and hopefully we can carry that for tomorrow.”
Astros: Rookie outfielder Jake Meyers, who went 5-for-12 in three games to close out the regular season, was 2-for-4 with an RBI in his first playoff game in Game 1. He’s the first Astros player to drive in a run in his postseason debut since Yordan Alvarez did so in 2019 (ALDS Game 1). … Outfielder Michael Brantley is 4-for-11 in his last four games, including the playoffs. … Second baseman Jose Altuve is 7-for-14 in his last three games, including Game 1 of the ALDS. … Third baseman Alex Bregman is 1-for-20 in his last five games, including a 1-for-4 night in Game 1.
Anything else fans might want to know?
Tony La Russa has lost his last four playoff games as White Sox manager. The previous three before Thursday came in 1983 during an ALCS loss to the Orioles. … Tim Anderson extended his postseason hitting streak to four games. His streak of playoff games with three hits ended at three. … The Astros have played 120 playoff games in their existence and have scored 487 runs and given up 487 runs. … Brantley has recorded five multi-RBI games in his postseason career (39 games), all coming with the Astros and all coming since Game 3 of the 2019 World Series. … Jose Altuve has 13 career playoff doubles, which is two shy of the club record by George Springer. … Baker holds a 105-104 lead over La Russa in head-to-head meetings.