Be honest. How many thought this series would go five games? I confess, I said sweep. I heard numerous commentators predict four games.
In all honesty, even with the series tied 2-2, you’d have to say the Rays have outplayed the Astros so far.
But it all comes down to tonight’s game.
Who will advance to the ALCS to face the awaiting Evil Empire?
The Astros lost both games in St. Petersburg to bring the series to this crossroads. They could neither hit nor pitch in that cursed Tropicana dome, but they are home tonight, and they have one magic bullet in their holster; Gerrit Cole.
Not that the Rays ever put a slouch on the mound, and they too start with their best, Tyler Glasnow. In Game 2 Glasnow matched Cole scoreless inning after scoreless inning, until Jose Altuve got a fastball into the Crawford Boxes.
Can the so far quiescent bats of the Astros get to Glasnow tonight? Can Gerrit Cole extend his streak of scoreless playoff innings? Will he need to, or will the Astros finally find the stroke and confidence that made them the most fearsome hitting machine in baseball?
The answers to these questions tonight will determine the Astros season, 2019.
Here are the probable lineups.
Rays: Tampa Bay has hit 10 homers over its three elimination games, and after going deep Tuesday, Tommy Pham and Willy Adames each have two. Pham is leading the team with a .429 postseason average. (MLB.com)
1) Austin Meadows, LF
2) Tommy Pham, DH
3) Ji-Man Choi, 1B
4) Travis d’Arnaud, C
5) Eric Sogard, 2B
6) Avisaíl García, RF
7) Joey Wendle, 3B
8) Kevin Kiermaier, CF
9) Willy Adames, SS
Astros: With Cole on the mound, the Astros will have Martín Maldonado back behind the plate. Manager AJ Hinch shuffled the lineup for Game 4 to combat the Rays’ rotating relievers, but he’s likely to go back to the same one through seven lineup he used in Games 1 and 2. (MLB.com)
1) George Springer, CF
2) José Altuve, 2B
3) Michael Brantley, LF
4) Alex Bregman, 3B
5) Yordan Alvarez, DH
6) Yuli Gurriel, 1B
7) Carlos Correa, SS
8) Josh Reddick, RF
9) Martín Maldonado, C
Here is a link to the Astros Division Series hitting statistics.
Here’s the quick version. Carlos Correa, George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick need to do better tonight. Springer did get two hits in the last game, and Brantley made some good contact. Let’s hope for batter regression for the Astros, which would mean moar runz.
Here’s a link to the season statistics.
Here’s the Rays’ hitting stats for the Series.
And their stats for the year.