Monday afternoon, the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics start their American League Division Series matchup at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The two AL West rivals are meeting for the first time ever in the postseason. The Astros swept the Twins in the Wild Card Series to advance. The A's outlasted the White Sox in three games.
Let's set the scene for Game 1 with the essentials.
How to watch
Date: Monday, Oct. 5 | Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
Location: Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles, California)
TV: TBS | Stream: TBS app
Odds: HOU +115; OAK -125; O/U: 8.5
Pitchers: RHP Chris Bassitt vs. RHP Lance McCullers Jr.
Follow: CBS Sports App
There is intrigue abound this series. The A's and Astros have not only been battling in the AL West the last few years, but Oakland was among the first teams to report Houston to the commissioner's office for illegally stealing signs. Former Astro and current Athletic Mike Fiers blew the whistle over the winter and could face his former team this series.
"I think there's a little bit of us wanting to prove we're better than them," A's closer Liam Hendriks told reporters, including MLB.com's Martin Gallegos, on Thursday. "But we also don't want to get petty and let emotions get the best of us ... We're going to prove we're the best team in the AL West."
The regular season series was fairly one-sided. The Athletics went 7-3 against the Astros this year and outscored them 38-25 in the 10 games. Houston was hammered by injuries this year -- ace Justin Verlander had Tommy John surgery and Roberto Osuna is out with an elbow issue -- but they successfully navigated the Wild Card Series with starters in the bullpen.
This series seems like a toss-up to me despite Oakland's regular season superiority. I'll go with the A's winning Game 1 because McCullers might be rusty after not pitching in over a week, and because the Astros won't be able to piggyback with Framber Valdez out of the bullpen as easily in the best-of-five series. Oakland takes Game 1 and Matt Olson is the hero with a key home run.