5 keys to ALCS Game 3 between Astros, Yankees

By Randy McIlvoy - Sports Director
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Gerrit Cole leaves the locker room and walks into the dugout before the game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on September 8, 2019, in Houston.

BRONX, N.Y. - It's been only a one-day break and it is time for the Houston Astros to play baseball again.

The American League Championship Series has hit the Big Apple for the middle three games of this best-of-seven series.

Look out for Wednesday and Game 4 because Mother Nature could get in the way. If it's washout, that would allow both managers to take a closer look at how to use their starting pitchers and bullpen.

In the meantime, it's time to focus on Game 3, which starts at 3:08 p.m. Central time.

Ride the Cole Train

Why wouldn't you? Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole has been the co-ace all season, but really he's been his best since late May which was his last loss. Cole has 24 straight starts without a loss. He has been a beast and nearly unhittable. He has the total package most nights. His fastball, curve and slider are usually in sync. In two ALDS starts against the Rays, he put on a clinic with 25 strikeouts. Wednesday afternoon, the Cole Train will be tested against this potent New York Yankees lineup that's ready to answer the bell.

Ignore the Yankee crowd

These people are flat out nuts on game days. They will be on-site early making the rounds at the nearby bars and then go bonkers for three hours in their seats. They will scream, yell a few choice words to Springer and the guys in the outfield and throw some beer around when they feel like it. That's the Yankee fan way and always has been. They are angry and want another World Series title to celebrate.

Be aggressive

Luis Severino is hit-and-miss. He is either fantastic or mediocre, and the Astros need to stay aggressive and make him go deep in counts and sit on his fastball. George Springer homered in Game 2 and it is key that he sets the tone in the leadoff spot. Then guys like Altuve, Brantley, Bregman and Alvarez can do some more damage.

Battle of the skippers

I love this matchup between two of MLB's smartest skippers. Both A.J. Hinch and Aaron Boone are also former players too. Both know how to make critical strategic moves when it is crunch time. How they manage the starting pitching and bullpen is something to watch.  They are calm in the dugout but get the job done. Hinch has the edge because he has proven it since 2015 and has a World Series title to hang his hat on.

Win the game

This is likely a longer series, but coming to New York tied 1-1 sets up this pivotal Game 3. The winner gets momentum and odds say whoever leads 2-1 usually goes on to win the series. That said, in my opinion, it means nothing significant in the big picture. The Astros are a great road team, and they need to show it.

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