The AL Division Series comes to you from the Sunshine State as the series continues. The Houston Astros are on the road for Game 4 of their best of five series with the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday afternoon. Houston owns a 2-1 series advantage: they won the opening game 6-2 on Friday afternoon and followed that up with a 3-1 victory on Saturday night with both games coming at home. Tampa Bay staved off elimination as they earned a 10-3 victory at home in Game 3 on Monday afternoon. With the Rays facing elimination, can they find a way to earn a win and extend their season for another day or will Houston close things out?
Houston Astros Try to Close Series Out, Punch AL Championship Series Ticket
(Winners and Whiners.com) – Houston had their chances to put the Rays away and sweep their way into the AL Championship Series but instead found themselves on the wrong end of a blowout loss. The Astros look to regroup in this contest and close things out on the road. Houston got two hits each from Jose Altuve (run, RBI), Yordan Alvarez (run) and Yuli Guerriel (two RBI) in the contest. Zack Greinke (0-1), who was 8-1 down the stretch with Houston, was hit hard and took the loss on the mound. He allowed six runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts over 3.2 innings of work.
Justin Verlander takes the hill for his second start of the postseason after logging 34 regular season starts for the Astros. He finished the regular season 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA, a 0.803 WHIP, 42 walks and 300 strikeouts over 223 innings of work on the year. Verlander earned the win in his last start, which came at home in Game 1 of this series on Friday afternoon. He threw seven innings, allowing no runs on one hit with three walks and eight strikeouts in an eventual 6-2 Houston victory. Verlander is 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, five walks and 25 strikeouts over 18 innings in his last three starts. He is 11-4 with a 3.01 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, 40 walks and 136 strikeouts over 140.1 innings in 21 career starts against the Rays. Verlander is 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA, a 1.043 WHIP, 17 walks and 72 strikeouts over 69 innings in 10 career starts at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay Rays Look to Send Series Back to Houston
Tampa Bay was down 2-0 in the series and staring at elimination but managed to get their bats going to pick up the win and stay alive. The Rays now have to pull that off again to move the series back to Houston or else they’re heading to the golf course. Tampa Bay got homers from Kevin Kiermaier (his first of the postseason), Ji-Man Choi (his first), Willy Adames (his first) and Brandon Lowe (his first) in the contest as they finally got their bats going early in the game. Charlie Morton (2-0) earned the win on the mound as he threw five innings: he allowed one run on three hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
Diego Castillo takes the ball for his third appearance of the postseason and his first start for Tampa Bay after making 65 appearances, six starts, in the regular season. He was 5-8 with eight saves, a 3.41 ERA, a 1.238 WHIP, 26 walks and 81 strikeouts over 68.2 innings of work in the regular season. Castillo didn’t factor in the decision in his last outing, which came in relief on the road in Game 2 of this series against Houston. He threw 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit with one walk and one strikeout in a 3-1 Tampa Bay loss. Castillo is 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA, a 1.85 WHIP, no walks and six strikeouts over 4.1 innings of work in his last three starts as an opener. He is 0-1 with one save, a 3.38 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, two walks and four strikeouts over eight innings in six career appearances, all in relief, against the Astros. Castillo is 8-5 with four saves, a 3.28 ERA, a 0.986 WHIP, 22 walks and 87 strikeouts over 74 innings in 60 career appearances, nine starts, at Tropicana Field.
Castillo is the opener in an all hands on deck sort of game for the Rays, who know that a loss here would end their campaign. It’s likely that either Yonny Chirinos or Ryan Yarbrough will be doing the heavy lifting as far as the bulk innings go, but even with their success, neither are on equal footing with Verlander. Speaking of the Houston ace, he’s going on short rest and threw 100 pitches in the Game 1 win. Still, knowing that should things go awry, the Rays still would have to face Gerrit Cole on full rest, you have to think the Rays’ magic was a one-day affair. Houston takes the game and the series.
Prediction: Houston Astros -1.5
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This post was written by Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.