HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Two full seasons should be enough time for Astros fans to get over the departure of Carlos Correa, right?
As Game 1 of the American League Division Series looms Saturday, supporters of the defending World Series champs may need to put any fond memories of the star shortstop’s clutch performances in the rear-view.
Yes, Correa has come back to Houston since departing for the Minnesota Twins before the 2022 season, and while he’s managed to register just two hits in six games as the visitor at Minute Maid Park, the former No. 1 overall draft pick’s mission in his old stomping grounds matches that held by his former teammates: win, keep winning, earn a pennant and then a world title.
So, the stakes are high. For Houston, in particular, there’s a shot at history. No Major League Baseball team has repeated as World Series champions in 23 years, and manager Dusty Baker and his club figure they could break that drought. After all, when Justin Verlander throws the first pitch at 3:45 p.m. inside Minute Maid Park, it will mark the Astros’ seventh consecutive time playing in the postseason and the eighth time in the last nine years.
For Minnesota, the Twins are bidding to break the stigma of playoff failure. They’ve already ended an 18-game playoff losing streak and a nine-series run of failing to advance in the postseason. In addition, manager Rocco Baldelli’s bunch wants to prove their entry into the 2023 postseason wasn’t be default – they earned a ticket by winning the AL Central Division, statistically the weakest in baseball this season. They are also seeking the fourth world championship in franchise history and their first in 32 years.
Verlander will take on Bailey Ober in Saturday’s ALDS opener.
Game 2’s pitchers have already been revealed, with Houston’s Framber Valdez going up against Minnesota’s Pablo Lopez on Sunday.
The Twins’ Sonny Gray, who pitched Minnesota into the ALDS, will start Game 3 in Minneapolis. Houston’s starter for its road game has not yet been announced, though, it’s likely Cristian Javier will get the nod.
Entering Saturday, FanGraphs gave Houston a 56.4% edge to Minnesota’s 43.6% to win the series, but depending on how Game 1 unfolds, you can expect those odds to widen or narrow.
By the way, the Twins won the 2023 regular-season series against the Astros, 4-2, but those games were in early April and late May, the earlier matchups taking place when the Astros were without Jose Altuve and well before Verlander rejoined the team.
2023 ALDS schedule and results, best of five games
- Game 1: Minnesota at Houston, Saturday, 3:45 p.m.
- Game 2: Minnesota at Houston, Sunday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m.
- Game 3: Houston at Minnesota, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 3 p.m.
- Game 4: Houston at Minnesota, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 1:07 p.m.*
- Game 5: Minnesota at Houston, Friday, Oct. 13, 3:07 p.m.*+
All times Central Time.
* – if necessary
+ – If only one ALDS Game 5 remains on Friday, Oct. 13, the game will be at 7:03 p.m.