Keys to Astros-Indians ALDS Game 2

Astros lead series 1-0, after Game 1 win 7-2

Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – After capturing Game 1, the Astros hope to take a commanding 2-0 lead over Cleveland in the American League Division Series.

Game 2's first pitch is scheduled for 3:37 p.m.

Here are the keys to victory in Game 2:

1. Take advantage of early opportunities

Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber did not look sharp early in game one, but the Astros wouldn't break through against him until a fourth-inning home run. Jumping out to an early lead could go a long way towards determining if the Indians feel defeated even before they actually are defeated in this series.

2. Cole must keep the ball down. 

During his final season in Pittsburgh, Gerrit Cole allowed 31 home runs. This past season, his first with Houston, Cole brought that number down to just 19. Cleveland hit 216 home runs in 2018, sixth most in the majors. None of the Indians three hits in their game one loss were for extra bases.

3. Get the crowd into the game

More than 43,000 fans poured into Minute Maid Park for Friday's ALDS opener. They had only Justin Verlander's pitching to cheer about through the first four innings.

Astros pitching certainly was a big part of the win with Verlander taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and three relievers securing the final 11 outs without seeing any runs on their ledgers.

The Astros trio of Alex Bregman, George Springer and Jose Altuve each belted a home run off Kluber, who turned in a fourth straight subpar postseason start. 

Recent postseason history is much better for Indians game two starter Carlos Carrasco, albeit limited. Carrasco made his postseason debut in last year's ALDS against the Yankees and shut them out over five and two-thirds innings in Game 3.

Carrasco started two games against Houston in 2018, allowing 8 runs in 13.1 innings (5.40 ERA)

The Astros will counter with Cole who will be making his fourth career postseason start. He's 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA, all with the Pirates.

Cole was magnificent in his first season in Houston, piling up a career-high 276 strikeouts which helped push him to first in the majors in strikeouts per nine innings. 

Astros manager A.J. Hinch pushed all the right buttons in the Game 1 win, Tyler White was the DH and he came up with two hits. Following the second hit, rookie Myles Straw replaced him as a pinch runner. Straw scored from second on the very next pitch putting his blazing speed on display.

Martin Maldonado, a trade deadline acquisition, made the start behind the plate and delivered the last of the Astros four solo home runs in game one.