Astros Enter Game Five Down 3-1: Four Things to Watch

Could this be it for George Springer as an Astro?
Could this be it for George Springer as an Astro? Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros clawed their way to a win, looking more like the resilient team we were used to on Wednesday night. The bats came to life (somewhat) and Dusty Baker gave Zack Greinke the opportunity to work out of a jam, and he did. It was the kind of performance we've come to expect from the Astros over the last few seasons.

It also was the 54th appearance for Jose Altuve, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel, a major league record. If this team does get dismantled (to a degree) in the offseason, these guys clearly aren't quite ready for it to end.

Thursday night, however, is another game and another opportunity to stave off elimination or head home to Houston for a long offseason. Here are some things to watch.

Pitching Depth

The Astros are likely to go with a young pitcher to start. Normally, it would be Christian Javier, but he pitched two innings Wednesday leaving them with not a ton of options. Whoever starts will undoubtedly be on a very short leash, which means they will need all the bullpen support they can get. The pen has been outstanding, but tonight could seriously put them to the test.

At the Plate

Will the bats reemerge tonight or will they go back into hiding? While four runs isn't exactly a breakout, it felt like one considering how rough a go they have had the first three games. The bottom of the lineup has been brutal, but on a night when pitching will be tested, it would be nice to see everyone bust out of the slump and put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

Baker's Experience

In Game 4, Baker's decision to leave Greinke in the game turned out to be a master stroke. Not all of his decisions this season, particularly with the pitching staff, have been winners, but the veteran skipper has seen virtually everything in his decades in the game. Given the tenuous position the team is in, he seems like the right manager for the gig tonight.

Looking Ahead

We cannot help but wonder, if this ends the Astros season, what will the team look like next year? So many things are up in the air when it comes to player contracts and personnel decisions, James Click is going to have his hands more than full this offseason. And considering this could be the last hurrah for this group of guys, it's more than a little bittersweet. We aren't ready to turn the page yet, but we might need to prepare ourselves for that inevitability.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke