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GameThread No.83: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays, June 28, 2018 6:10 PM CDT

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Join the conversation as the Houston Astros and Lance McCullers Jr. look to get a four-game sweep started against the Tampa Bay Rays

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (54-28) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (39-40), June 28, 2018 6:10 PM CDT

TV: AT&T SportsNet-SW

Radio: KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM

Online: MLB.TV

Rays SBNation Blog: DRays Bay

Pitching Matchup

RHP/LHP Tampa Bay Rays Bullpen (262.0 IP, 8.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9) vs. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (8-3, 3.82 ERA, 99 SO)

The Rays had mostly bad results with their now patented "Opener" experiment last week when they visited Houston for a three-game series. The strategy helped the Rays get out to an early lead in Game 1 of the series but then the bullpen faltered when Sergio Romo surrendered a walkoff double to Alex Bregman in the ninth inning. In fact, the only win the Rays were able to get in that series was when their best starter, Blake Snell, actually started the game. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if Tampa's strategy will work this weekend, but the Rays pitching in general has been stellar in their last few games.

For the Houston Astros, Lance McCullers Jr. always has the chance to put on a special performance every time he takes the mound and tonight is no different. So far in 2018, McCullers has shown signs of excellent stuff as usual but just needs to be more consistent generally.

Today's Lineups

Some interesting notes about the lineups tonight for sure... First off, the Astros are without two of their top hitters, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel. Correa is still dealing with stiffness in his back and Gurriel is on paternity leave to welcome a Baby Piña to the family. Congratulations Yuli!

Without these two main sluggers in the lineup, the Astros will rely on Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez to carry the load for a little while. Gonzalez's home run yesterday afternoon was huge, helping the Astros walk off in the ninth inning against Blue Jays closer Ryan Tepera.

Finally, in center field tonight there might be one of the best defensive matchups in all of baseball as Kevin Kiermaier roams his home turf and Jake Marisnick looks to build on his spectacular catch at Minute Maid Park the other night.

Houston Astros Tampa Bay Rays
George Springer - RF Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Alex Bregman - 3B Matt Duffy - 3B
Jose Altuve - 2B Jake Bauers - 1B
Josh Reddick - LF Wilson Ramos - C
Evan Gattis - DH Joey Wendle - 2B
Marwin Gonzalez - SS C.J. Cron - DH
Tyler White - 1B Mallex Smith - LF
Brian McCann - C Carlos Gomez - RF
Jake Marisnick - CF Willy Adames - SS
Lance McCullers Jr. - RHP Ryne Stanek - RHP