After a travel day Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays made their way back to Houston, where they will butt heads with the Astros one more time in the final game of the best of five American League Division Series. Houston won the first two games of the set, while Tampa Bay won a pair of elimination games at home. The victors will face the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, starting Saturday.
The Rays enter play 3-0 in elimination postseason games this season and are 8-4 overall. They have dominated the series beyond the Justin Verlander/Gerrit Cole innings in Houston. With Verlander and Cole on the on the bump, Houston outscored Tampa Bay 8-0. Yet beyond that, in all the other innings of the series, the Rays have outscored Houston 17-5.
As Bradford Doolittle (ESPN) noted, the numbers all swing the Rays’ way. Tampa Bay has a 6-4 edge in homers in the series. They have that 17-13 edge in scoring. They have more walks, a better on-base percentage, a better slugging percentage. The Astros have been outplayed.
It is not clear if Yandy Diaz will be available. Diaz left Monday’s game with left foot soreness, and did not play on Tuesday. In his place, Matt Duffy collected two hits on Monday, while Joey Wendle hit an RBI double on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Rays pitching staff has limited Houston to 1-9 with runners in scoring position (.111 BA) over the last two games — something they hope to continue on Thursday. Put another way, the keys to any presumptive victory will be timely hitting, run prevention, and quality pitching.
Even though Tyler Glasnow is set to make his second postseason appearance (more on him below), Rays manager Kevin Cash acknowledged Wednesday that there will again be an all hands on deck approach to pitching in the series finale, with all of the team’s 12 pitchers available for this contest, including both Blake Snell and Charlie Morton (who pitched Monday) on short rest. In the bullpen day on Tuesday, not a single Tampa Bay hurler threw more than 29 pitches. The same can be expected from A.J. Hinch and the Astros.
The New What Next
Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78 ERA) will make his second and final ALDS appearance, pitching opposite of Gerrit Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA).
Tyler Glasnow will be pitching on an extra day’s rest after throwing 4-1/3 innings on Friday when he gave up four hits including a two-run homer to Jose Altuve. He struck out five. He is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in one career start against Houston in regular season play, but 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP in the postseason.
Gerrit Cole was historically dominant in the second game of the ALDS when he fanned 15 — an Astros franchise playoff record — in his 118-pitch, 7-2/3 inning outing. Cole is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four career starts against the Rays, 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two 2019 starts against Tampa Bay, and 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP in postseason play. Key Matchups: Jesus Aguilar (3-8, 2 RBI, BB), Ji-Man Choi (2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Travis d’Arnaud (4-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Yandy Diaz (2-3, HR, RBI), Tommy Pham (9-18, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI), Daniel Robertson (2-6), Joey Wendle (3-7, 3B, 3 RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays ALDS Game Five Starting Lineup
- Meadows LF
- Pham DH
- Choi 1B
- d’Arnaud C
- Sogard 2B
- Garcia RF
- Wendle 3B
- Kiermaier C
- Adames SS
— The Rays will be hosting three more official watch parties on Thursday in the Tampa Bay area. The first pitch is slated for 7:00, and the locations of the parties are below.
— Ever wonder about the cognitive dissonance between very wealthy people, like Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg, and, well…pretty much everyone else? Me too!
According to an article by Harren Walker (Vice), UC Berkeley psychologists Paul Diff and Dacher Keltner have done a number of studies over the past 10 years that suggest that the more material wealth an individual accumulates, the less likely that person is to have compassion and empathy for other people, and to use their wealth to help others in need.
Upper-class individuals are also worse at recognizing other people’s emotions, and they’re less likely to pay attention to the people they’re interacting with.— Harren Walker
In other words, Sternberg is living in a world where the realities of the majority of the Rays fan base do not match up with his own. Is he delusional for thinking that baseball fans in Tampa Bay and Montreal will glom onto his cockamamie leverage proposal to split the Rays between two cities for half a season? From a clinical perspective, there’s a strong possibility of that.