He’s a baaaaad man! (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

With visions of closing out the American League Championship Series before the weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back from their 4-3 loss in Wednesday night’s contest against Houston. The Rays still lead the series three games to one.

Tyler Glasnow got the start on Wednesday and he was good, but not great. The right-hander allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out five on 96 pitches (55 strikes, 57% strike rate, 20% SwStr). Glasnow allowed a first-inning solo shot and an RBI double in the third inning to Jose Altuve, and a two-run blast to George Springer on a 99 mph, 3-1 fastball with the game scored knotted up at two in the bottom of the fifth. Yet, he also limited the damage by inducing weak contact and six ground balls. It was a rare power outburst against a hurler that maintained a 1.73 HR/9 in 2020 (and a 0.59 HR/9 in 2019). Glasnow enters his next start — assuming the Rays move on to the World Series — with a 4.66 ERA, 5.88 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, and a 3.1 K/BB across 19-1/3 playoff innings.

There were a few positives from last night’s contest. Randy Arozarena continued to rake, going 1-4 with a homer and two RBI, while Jose Alvarado made his first appearance of the fall, working around one hit in one inning of work while punching out two on 22 pitches (13 strikes, 59% strike rate, 23% SwStr%). Arozarena is now 19-43 (.442) this postseason, and his 39 total bases are an MLB postseason rookie record. According to Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), “Arozarena has five homers, joining Evan Longoria and Kyle Schwarber as the only other rookies to have that many in a postseason.”

The New What Next

Neither team has announced their pitching plans for this afternoon’s contest. Tampa Bay could use an opener or start Josh Fleming (5-0, 2.78 ERA).

In his last outing, Josh Fleming tossed six scoreless frames against the Phillies, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six. It marked the longest outing of the season for Fleming, who has served as both a starter and long reliever this season. His six punch outs marked a season-high.

If the Rays go to Pete Fairbanks in some capacity, it would be his third appearance in four days. It would also be Ryan Thompson’s fourth appearance in five games should he get the call.

Luis Garcia, Chase De Jong, and Cy Sneed have not been used in this series, and it is possible the Astros could go with a bullpen game tonight. The four previous starters have worked at least into the sixth inning, so they likely would not be available on short rest.

You can read about the series in our preview, and while the starting lineup and any Noteworthiness are below.

Rays 10/18/20 Starting Lineup

  1. B. Lowe 2B
  2. Arozarena LF
  3. Meadows RF
  4. Diaz DH
  5. Choi 1B
  6. Margot CF
  7. Wendle 3B
  8. Adames SS
  9. Zunino C

Noteworthiness

— Congratulations are in order to Rays skipper Kevin Cash, who has won his second consecutive Sporting News American League Manager Of The Year award. We will have more on this later.

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