HOUSTON — With the “opener” gambit now influencing postseason strategies in Oakland and Milwaukee http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-yan-gomes-jersey , the pitching matchup for Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros represents a throwback in this era of bullpening.The Indians and Astros will turn to tried-and-true aces aiming to gain an early edge in the series on Friday at Minute Maid Park. Right-handers Corey Kluber (20-7, 2.89 ERA) and Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.52 ERA) have combined for 16 200-inning and 13 200-strikeout seasons, 10 All-Star Game appearances, three Cy Young awards, and two ERA titles, with Verlander adding a Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player award, plus a pitching triple crown, to the mix.If Verlander doesn’t earn his second Cy Young award this season, he is assured of finishing in the top five in balloting for the sixth time. Kluber finished third in 2016, two seasons after winning his first Cy Young award and one year before claiming his second. By every definition, they are workhorses charged with setting the tone in a postseason series. That both have been here before enhances expectations of something riveting unfolding when they work in opposition.Article continues below ...“Well, as far as Klub goes, we love it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of relying upon a traditional ace. “I’m sure they feel the same way with Verlander. I think, as an organization or a team, you do what you think puts you in the best position. If that’s to have an opener Kenny Lofton Jersey , OK. But I know how we feel with Kluber pitching, and it’s good and he’s earned that. Same with Verlander.”Verlander, having made 90.7 percent of his 419 regular-season starts for the Detroit Tigers, is intimately familiar with his former division rival. Cleveland is the only team from the American League Central against whom Verlander owns a losing record (20-24, 4.71 ERA over 52 starts).Unlike Kluber, who finished 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA over two starts against the Astros this season, Verlander did not crossmatch against the Indians, making starts immediately prior to the series the teams contested in May. Verlander has tweaked his pitch usage since joining the Astros late last season and is confident those changes should mitigate any concerns over his spotty record.“I’ve changed a lot. Their lineup has changed,” said Verlander, 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA over five September starts. “It will be interesting to see what happens. I just am taking this, preparing for it as much as I can and know what to expect in a playoff atmosphere, know what to expect out of myself. When it comes down to it, I just need to go out there and execute pitches.”Kluber (4-2, 3.54 ERA) and Verlander (11-6, 3.07 ERA) have proven capable of executing in the postseason, reliability that undergirds the decisions to utilize both with stakes this high. In some corners, a steady stream of relievers might suffice. With Cleveland and Houston http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-jim-thome-jersey , tradition rules.“Whether your personnel fits — you can’t have an overriding philosophy,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I love starters. Why? Because I’ve got good ones. I think that’s the easiest way to fall in love with a rotation and have that mindset do I want my starters to go deep in the game.“Yeah, they’re good. If not, then I’ve got to have a contingency plan and it becomes a bullpen day very quickly if you fall behind or if the starter is not at his best.” ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Houston Astros insist the AL West is the premier division in baseball. They’re doing their part to show it, too.Marwin Gonzalez hit a grand slam and Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa also homered to lead the Astros to a 9-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.Dallas Keuchel (10-10) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking two.The defending World Series champions have won three straight and four of their last five games to maintain a 1 1/2-game lead over Oakland.“It’s the AL West, we’ve got the best division in baseball I think by far,” Keuchel said. “It’s really not an easy road any time you face big-league hitting. … You never take anything lightly. You’re always appreciative of a quality outing.”Keuchel is steadily improving as the season has progressed. He’s 7-2 with a 2.61 ERA in his last 13 starts.“It’s nice,” Keuchel said. “Nobody likes losing. I was 3-8 at one point. I’ll take 10-10 for sure. Beggars can’t be choosers. It’s nice to get wins. Everyone talks about the win being discontinued and it’s not that relevant, but it is. It’s the first thing people look at and it’s the last thing people look at. Nobody wants to lose. I’m competitive enough to want to win every time out. When I don’t, it frustrates me and usually fuels me more.”Gonzalez hit his second career grand slam. His shot to left field came off Andrew Heaney in the fifth inning gave the Astros a 5-0 lead. Altuve hit his 10th home run and Correa his 14th. Both were solo shots.Gonzalez is hitting .329 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 19 games.“We have been swinging the bat better as a team,” Gonzalez said. “I think that’s contagious, too. We went through a rough time two weeks ago when we couldn’t score runs. It’s been better lately.”Mike Trout returned to the lineup and tripled on the first pitch in his first at-bat of his first game back following the death of his brother-in-law, Aaron Cox. It’s players weekend, and instead of a nickname, Trout wore “A. Cox” on the back of his jersey.There was a moment of silence before the game for Cox Manny Ramirez Jersey , who was drafted by the Angels and had recently retired before his death.“It was good to get back on the field,” Trout said. “It was tough. I was fighting emotions tonight. Obviously, coming back yesterday I was emotionally drained the last couple of days.”Asked if this was the toughest game of his career, Trout said: “It was. My brother came out here but the family is back home. Every so often, you can’t help but think about it. He was a friend of mine and obviously my brother-in-law, but we were really close.”Trout was on the disabled list with a wrist injury when Cox, 24, died. Trout played in his first game since Aug. 1.Keuchel wore the name “David Burd” on his jersey, a tribute to the Astros’ longtime clubhouse assistant.Heaney (7-8) allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings.Rookie Taylor Ward hit a two-run homer to left field in the seventh inning for the second home run of his Angels career.The Angels have lost six of their last seven games.ONE MILLION REASONSJustin Verlander was tagged with a hefty lunch bill from the Cabana Cafe in The Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday. Verlander posted a picture of the receipt, in which a staffer jokingly charged him 1 million for being a “Dodger killer” in addition to his lunch selections. Verlander and the Houston Astros beat the Dodgers in seven games to win the World Series last year. Verlander wrote on Instagram: “#BeverlyHillsHotel really making me pay for that World Series win” with laughing emojis.ANOTHER SLAM, PLEASEGonzalez’s slam was the Astros’ sixth this season, which ties a franchise record for third-most in a season. The record is seven, set by the 2001 and 2007 Astros teams.TRAINER’S ROOMAstros: OF George Springer (quadriceps) was available to pinch hit Friday. … OF Jake Marisnick (groin) began a rehab stint at Triple-A Fresno on Friday. He was 2 for 4 with solo home run and a double.Angels: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani (strained right elbow) is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Saturday. …. LHP Tyler Skaggs (left adductor strain) and RHP Nick Tropeano (right shoulder inflammation) played catch Friday.UP NEXTAstros: RHP Verlander (12-8, 2.65 ERA) earned his 200th win in his last start. He is 2-2 with a 5.57 ERA in August.Angels: RHP Jaime Barria (8-7, 3.41) is 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA over his last three starts following an 0-6 stretch before that.