Someone is going to make history on Saturday night.
However improbable it seemed three days ago, the American League Championship Series between the Astros and Rays is headed to a Game 7 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Houston is aiming to join the 2004 Red Sox as the only teams in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven series. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is looking to become the first team to relinquish a 3-0 lead and win the series anyway.
“We take it as a one-game series now,” said Rays catcher Mike Zunino. “We’re 3-3 right now, and someone’s got to win.”
“We forced Game 7,” said Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. “We’ve got to take care of business. … If not, all this meant nothing.”
Lance McCullers Jr. will start for the Astros against Charlie Morton for the Rays. Both pitched for Houston in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS against the Yankees, with Morton getting the win with five scoreless innings and McCullers earning the save with four scoreless. In Game 7 of that World Series, McCullers started and pitched 2 1/3 frames, and Morton threw the final four innings for the win.
They’re the first duo in postseason history to pitch in the same winner-take-all game as teammates and later start against each other in a winner-take-all game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s Game 7, with a trip to the World Series on the line:
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The game will air on TBS at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 CT on Saturday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
Who will be the home team?
The Rays are the AL’s top seed, so they will be the home team for Game 7 and will bat last.
What are the starting lineups?
Astros: The same lineup as Game 6 will be utilized in the winner-take-all game, and Michael Brantley will remain as the designated hitter for the third straight game.
Rays: Manager Kevin Cash has tried out a handful of lineups over the last two weeks, but none has been able to spark a struggling offense. If the Rays are going to advance to the World Series, they’re going to need their best players to show up. After being out of the starting lineup with a hand contusion for half of the series, Kevin Kiermaier returns to hit ninth and start in center field.
Rays: Charlie Morton will toe the rubber once again in a Game 7, something he has thrived doing over the past couple of seasons. Morton is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA in three winner-take-all games, with a pair of wins with Houston in 2017. In the Rays’ Game 2 win against the Astros, Morton tossed five scoreless frames.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Astros: Houston’s pitching is somewhat thin, so it will need a strong effort from McCullers. There’s probably nobody that won’t be available to pitch, though closer Ryan Pressly has thrown three games in a row for the first time this year, totaling 39 pitches. Cristian Javier could probably throw an inning or two after throwing 19 pitches in Game 6 and having Game 5 off. Enoli Paredes didn’t throw in Game 6 and is almost certain to pitch at some point.
Rays: We saw how aggressive Tampa Bay was with its bullpen in Game 6, and that’s going to be the case again on Saturday. Morton will get the benefit of the doubt, but Cash will go to the 'pen at the first sign of trouble. Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo and Pete Fairbanks will be leaned upon heavily once again. And don’t be surprised if the Rays use Tyler Glasnow, who would be on two days’ rest, for a pair of innings out of the bullpen.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Astros: Perhaps Andre Scrubb, who’s thrown 24 pitches in each of the last two games.
Rays: Tampa Bay will lean on every single pitcher in The Stable.
Any injuries of note?
Astros: Brantley has a sore foot and shin after fouling two balls off his leg in Game 4.
Rays: Kiermaier continues to nurse his left hand after a hit by pitch, but Tampa Bay is optimistic that the center fielder will make his return to the starting lineup on Saturday.
Who is hot and who is not?
Astros: Altuve (.364 average in playoffs/.455 in ALCS), Brantley (.347/.348), Correa (.372/.261), Springer (.283/.269) and Aledmys Díaz (.375/.455) have been carrying the offense, while Bregman is struggling mightily. He went 0-for-5 in Game 6 for a .217 average in the playoffs and .125 in the ALCS. Gurriel is 4-for-40 in the playoffs and 2-for-17 in the ALCS.
Rays: Margot hit two home runs in Game 6 and now has five home runs and 11 RBIs in 12 games this postseason. Margot had just one home run and 11 RBIs in 47 games during the regular season. Margot became the sixth Rays player to record a multihomer game in the postseason, joining Yandy Díaz, Desmond Jennings, Kelly Shoppach, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria.
Lowe went 1-for-3 on Friday, but he is still just 5-for-48 with one home run this postseason.
Anything else fans want to know?
Astros: Correa recorded his 48th career RBI in the postseason in Game 6, tying Reggie Jackson for the seventh most RBIs in playoff history.
Rays: Game 6 was the first time Tampa Bay lost a postseason game when scoring first since Game 4 of the 2013 AL Division Series against the Red Sox. With the Game 6 loss, the Rays fell to 5-1 this postseason when scoring first, after going a Major League-best 25-6 in the regular season.