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It’s a winner take all matchup in the AL Division Series as the series shifts back to the Lone Star State. The Tampa Bay Rays are on the road as they face the Houston Astros in Game 5 of their best of five series Thursday night. Houston took the first two games of the series, prevailing 6-2 in Game 1 and 3-1 in Game 2, both at home. Tampa Bay answered with a 10-3 victory in Game 3 and extended their season with a 4-1 victory in Game 4, both at home. Which team will pick up the victory and advance to the AL Championship Series against the Yankees?
Tampa Bay Rays Try for Third Straight Win, Stun the Baseball WorldTampa Bay got to Justin Verlander early and rode that, along with a parade of arms, to a Game 4 win that squared the series and put this series into a winner take all Game 5. The Rays rapped out 13 hits in the contest and used a three-run first inning to take control of the game. Avisail Garcia (run) led Tampa Bay with four hits while Tommy Pham (run, RBI) had three in the contest. Pham (his second) and Willy Adames (his second) each went deep in the victory. Diego Castillo didn’t factor in the decision as he threw 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit with one walk and three strikeouts. Ryan Yarbrough (1-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings, allowing two hits with no walks or strikeouts. Blake Snell got the final two outs to record his first save in his first career relief appearance.
Tyler Glasnow takes the ball in the series finale for his second postseason start for the Rays after making 12 starts during the regular season. He comes in 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, 14 walks and 76 strikeouts over 60.2 innings on the season. Glasnow took the loss in his last start, which came here in Game 1 of the series against the Astros Friday afternoon. He threw 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in a 6-2 Rays defeat. Glasnow has a 0-1 record with a 1.54 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP, five walks and 16 strikeouts over 11.2 innings in his last three starts. He is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, four walks and 11 strikeouts over 9.1 innings in two career starts against Houston. Glasnow’s start in Game 1 of the series marked his first career outing at Minute Maid Park.
Houston Astros Seek to Avoid Surprising UpsetHouston jumped to a 2-0 series lead and looked poised to close things out. Instead, the Astros saw Zack Greinke get rocked in Game 3 and their bats were silent in Game 4 to take the loss: they now need to prevail here to avoid an early postseason exit. Houston finished with only six hits in the game: George Springer had two while Robinson Chirinos accounted for their lone run with a solo homer, his first of the series, in the eighth inning. Justin Verlander (1-1) took the loss on the mound as he allowed four runs on four runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 3.2 innings of work.
Gerrit Cole gets the call for his second postseason start after logging 33 regular season starts for the Astros. He posted a 20-5 record with a 2.50 ERA, a 0.895 WHIP, 48 walks and 326 strikeouts over 212.2 innings of work this season. Cole finished the regular season unbeaten in his last 22 starts and that continued in the postseason he picked up the win in his last start, which came at home in Game 2 against Tampa Bay. He threw 7.2 innings, allowing no runs on four hits with one walk and 15 strikeouts in a 3-1 Houston triumph. Cole is 3-0 with a 0.46 ERA, a 0.66 WHIP, three walks and 39 strikeouts over 19.2 innings in his last three starts. He is 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, 10 walks and 52 strikeouts over 33.1 innings in five career starts against the Rays. Cole is 21-4 with a 2.70 ERA, a 0.862 WHIP, 48 walks and 330 strikeouts over 217 innings in 33 career starts at Minute Maid Park.
- Astros are 5-0 in their last 5 after scoring 2 runs or less in their previous game
- Astros are 6-0 in their last 6 Divisional Playoff home games
- Astros are 6-0 in their last 6 when their opponent allows 2 runs or less in their previous game
- Rays are 1-4 in their last 5 road games
- Rays are 1-4 in their last 5 playoff road games
- Rays are 0-4 in their last 4 road games vs. a right-handed starter
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Tampa Bay has rallied back into the series with back to back wins but they came against Greinke, who wilted, and Verlander on short rest. The Rays now, if they hope to make the AL Championship Series, have to beat a guy that hasn’t lost since late May and who shut Tampa Bay down in Game 2 of the series. Cole tossed 7.2 shutout frames in Game 2 and fanned 15 hitters en route to the victory at home here. Given the fact that he’s been rolling along the last few months and earned the win in Game 2, you have to give the upper hand to Houston in this one to take the series.
Prediction: Houston Astros -1.5 (-125)
Full-Game Total Pick
While Tampa Bay has controlled the last couple games of the series, those contests came at home. The Rays have hit 10 homers in the series to Houston's four but they didn't do much offensively at Minute Maid Park in the first two games of the series. We saw a total of 12 runs scored in those games as Houston prevailed 6-2 in Game 1 and 3-1 in Game 2. Tampa Bay may have put up 14 runs in their last two games but they have to produce on the road against a pitcher that led the AL in strikeouts and who hasn't lost in more than four months. Can the Astros close things out behind Cole in this one to set up their showdown with the Yankees?
The under is 5-1 in the Rays' last 6 games following a win, 4-1 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 2 runs or less in their previous game and 4-0-1 in Glasnow's last 5 starts with 5 days of rest. Houston has seen the under go 5-1 in their last 6 games following a loss, 4-1 in Cole's last 5 starts with 4 days of rest, 4-1 in Cole's last 5 starts on grass and 4-1 in Cole's last 5 starts overall. We saw how runs were at a premium in both the games here to start the series: with Cole pitching and the Astros knowing how important this one is, the contest falls under the total.
Prediction: Under 7