^
Keep Houston Press Free
4
| Sports |

Astros-Rays Game Five: Four Things to Watch

George Springer needs to step up in game five.
George Springer needs to step up in game five.
Photo by Jack Gorman

For as good as the Astros were in the regular season, and they were very good, their 107-win season comes down to a winner-take-all game five at Minute Maid Park Thursday. They played right down to the final few games of the season to earn home field advantage and they will need it. The Rays have shut down the Astros' potent lineup and gotten just enough run support to make games close or win them.

From the outset, this was not a great match-up for the Astros and it will come down to an elimination game with the Yankees waiting for the winner. Here are four things to keep your eyes on.

Gerrit Cole on Four Days Rest

The Astros will put Cole on the bump for game five after throwing Justin Verlander on three days rest Tuesday, which didn't work out so well. The extra day should be help to the ace pitcher who seems to get better the longer he goes in an outing. The Astros bullpen (minus Wade Miley) was solid Tuesday and has been mostly reliable so far. But they will need another dominant effort from Cole in this one — maybe not the 15 strikeout variety from his last start, but it wouldn't hurt.

Charlie Morton's Revenge II

The former Astros pitcher put it on his old teammates in Game 3 and he will be available out of the bullpen on Thursday. Astros fans remember his heroic bullpen performance to clinch the World Series and he remains unbeaten in postseason elimination games. Let's hope his availability won't even matter for Tampa.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Early Leads

Getting the first run or two on the board is critical for the Astros. It will help to mitigate the Rays bullpen, which is so good and includes Morton. The sooner they can put runs on the board against this Tampa team, the better.

Hitting Struggles

At some point, George Springer and Michael Brantley, two of the best offensive players in the American League this year, have to snap out of their ALDS funk. Maybe that doesn't happen until the ALCS, assuming they get there, but having a breakout night in game five would be a welcome change. In truth, only Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel have had good plate appearances in this series and Jose Altuve isn't far behind. But as potent as the Astros have been all year, they need to dial up some of that power for Game 5 or it will have been wasted.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.