Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. are already inextricably linked in American League Championship Series lore. The duo combined to shut out the Yankees in Game 7, securing Houston’s second pennant in 2017.
Three years later, in Game 2 of the 2020 edition, Morton and McCullers will go head-to-head on Monday at Petco Park.
The Rays jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with a tense 2-1 victory in Game 1 on Sunday night. In postseason history, teams winning Game 1 of any best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 114 of 179 times (64 percent).
Of course, the Astros dropped Game 1 of last year’s ALCS and rallied to beat the Yankees. The Rays, meanwhile, hold their first 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.
Here’s everything you need to know about Game 2:
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The game will air on TBS at 4 p.m. ET on Monday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
Who will be the ‘home’ team at the neutral site?
The Rays are the higher seed, so they will be the home team for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 and the visiting team for Games 3, 4 and 5. They will bat first when they’re the visiting team and last when they’re the home team.
What do the starting lineups look like?
Astros: Against a right-hander, outfielder Josh Reddick returns to the lineup after coming off the bench in Game 1 and delivering a single. Astros manager Dusty Baker also flip-flopped Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker, moving the lefty up to the fifth spot and the righty down to sixth while facing a right-handed starter. Yuli Gurriel is 2-for-25 in the playoffs, but Baker has given no indication he won’t continue to play him.
1) George Springer, CF
2) Jose Altuve, 2B
3) Michael Brantley, DH
4) Alex Bregman, 3B
5) Kyle Tucker, LF
6) Carlos Correa, SS
7) Yuli Gurriel, 1B
8) Josh Reddick, RF
9) Martín Maldonado, C
Rays: The Rays trotted out seven right-handed bats against lefty Framber Valdez in Game 1, and they flipped it around against McCullers. Austin Meadows and Joey Wendle are back in the lineup, and Brandon Lowe is back as the No. 2 hitter.
1) Austin Meadows, DH
2) Brandon Lowe, 2B
3) Randy Arozarena, LF
4) Ji-Man Choi, 1B
5) Manuel Margot, RF
6) Joey Wendle, 3B
7) Willy Adames, SS
8) Kevin Kiermaier, CF
9) Michael Perez, C
Who are the starting pitchers?
Astros: McCullers will start Game 2 against the team he grew up cheering for as a kid in Tampa. McCullers gave up five runs (four earned) and allowed three homers and one walk in four-plus innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against Oakland, which the Astros won, 10-5. McCullers is 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in five career postseason starts. In the regular season, he went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 regular-season starts in 2020, including a 2.18 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in his final eight outings as he found his stride and used his curveball more.
“Really, ever since I came off the [injured list] there in September with a little nerve issue, I really felt like my stuff has been at the top of its game,” he said.
• Notes: McCullers on G2; Astros' adjustments
Rays: Morton will start Game 2 against the team he won the World Series with in 2017. Morton allowed just one run over five innings in the Game 3 win against the Yankees, and he is 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA in three postseason starts with the Rays. In last year’s postseason, Morton allowed one run and struck out nine in five innings in Tampa Bay's Game 3 win over the Astros in the ALDS.
• Morton mulls future with Rays, retirement
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Astros: The Astros are hoping McCullers can get through six innings like Valdez did Sunday. If McCullers stumbles, Baker could give the ball to Cristian Javier -- a starter in the regular season -- to eat some innings like he did so effectively in the ALDS and Wild Card Series. If Houston has a late lead, Enoli Paredes will pitch for the second day in a row and closer Ryan Pressly is at the ready.
Rays: While Game 1 starter Blake Snell limited the damage on Sunday, the Rays are hoping to get more length out of Morton on Monday. The bullpen has been relied upon heavily in the postseason, so the Rays will hope Morton can get through at least five or six innings. Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks should be ready to go in the bullpen after not pitching Sunday. Shane McClanahan is also capable of throwing multiple innings out of the bullpen.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Astros: Lefty Brooks Raley needed 29 pitches to get through the eighth inning of Game 1, which could put him out of action. In previous seasons, the Astros could have brought him in to face one hitter, but the three-batter-minimum rule probably rules him out of Game 2.
Rays: Diego Castillo has pitched in four of the Rays’ last six games, including a 17-pitch effort to close out Game 1. The right-hander will make his case that he’s available, but the Rays will likely look to stay away from him on Monday.
• Castillo saves Game 1 -- and maybe Game 2
Any injuries of note?
Who is hot and who is not?
Astros: The Astros had nine hits in Game 1, but Bregman (2-for-4) was the only hitter to have multiple hits. Correa is 10-for-22 in the playoffs after drawing a pair of walks in Game 1. … Gurriel is in a 2-for-25 funk in the playoffs after going 0-for-2 with two walks in Game 1.
Rays: Arozarena continued his tear with his fourth home run of the postseason in Game 1. With the homer, Arozarena now has seven extra-base hits this postseason, which is the third-most in club history behind BJ Upton and Evan Longoria, who both finished with nine in 2008.
Anything else fans want to know?
Astros: Altuve’s homer in Game 1 was the 16th playoff homer of his career, putting him one behind Springer for the franchise’s all-time lead. … Game 2 will mark Houston’s 15th consecutive game away from Minute Maid Park.
Rays: The Rays have won back-to-back games, both by a 2-1 score, becoming the first team to score two runs or fewer in back-to-back postseason games and win both since the Astros won Games 1-2 of the 2017 ALCS vs. NYY.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.