So what kind of American League Championship Series is this going to be? We’ll learn a lot on Tuesday night at Petco Park in San Diego.
“A must-win situation for us,” said Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. “You know, you don't want to be down 0-3 in a series with a great team on their side of the race. I feel like we've been playing good baseball, we just haven't got those big hits.”
The Rays, meanwhile, can move within a game of their first World Series appearance in 12 years with a victory on Tuesday.
In postseason history, teams that have won the first two games of any best-of-seven series have gone on to win that series 72 of 85 times (an 85 percent rate). However, no team has rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-seven series since the 2004 Red Sox pulled off the only 0-3 comeback in MLB history in the ALCS. Going back to the ‘04 World Series, teams ahead 2-0 have finished the job 22 straight times.
Here’s everything you need to know about Game 3:
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/5:30 PT on Tuesday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
Who will be the home team?
The Astros, because they are the sixth seed, were the visiting team in Games 1 and 2, and now they will be the home team in Games 3 and 4, batting last.
What do the starting lineups look like?
Rays: Tampa Bay doesn't usually go with similar batting orders and it didn't on Tuesday against the right-handed Jose Urquidy. With Brandon Lowe struggling, manager Kevin Cash slid the second baseman down a spot in the order and elevated Randy Arozarena to second. Yandy Díaz got the start over Ji-Man Choi, and the Rays stuck with Joey Wendle’s defense with a contact-oriented pitcher on the mound.
Astros: With a left-hander (Ryan Yarbrough) on the mound, Astros manager Dusty Baker has Correa at fifth and moved the left-handed-hitting Kyle Tucker to sixth. Aledmys Díaz, who started at DH in Game 1 against lefty Blake Snell and came off the bench in the ninth inning of Game 2 and delivered a single, is back in the lineup in the eighth spot.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rays: Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough will make his first start of the 2020 postseason and his first since Sept. 20 against the Orioles. Yarbrough made nine starts in the regular season, but he is also familiar with the bulk-pitcher role behind the opener. The decision to start Yarbrough comes with hopes of getting quality length out of the lefty and easing the bullpen’s workload.
Last postseason, Yarbrough made three relief appearances in the AL Division Series against the Astros, tossing three scoreless innings on just two hits and one walk. He went 1-4 with a 3.56 ERA in 11 appearances (nine starts) this regular season.
Astros: Jose Urquidy will make his third start of the 2020 postseason. Urquidy, who missed most of the regular season following multiple positive coronavirus tests, has gone 4 1/3 innings in both of his postseason starts this year, throwing 76 pitches against the Twins in the Wild Card Series on Sept. 30 and 79 against the A’s on Wednesday.
Last year, Urquidy burst onto the scene in the playoffs and allowed one earned run in 10 innings, including five scoreless frames in Game 4 of the World Series against the Nationals. He went 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts this regular season.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rays: A lot of it will depend on just how much length Yarbrough gives the Rays. If the left-hander is able to get through five innings, Tampa Bay should have no problem with the middle innings. If Yarbrough struggles, the Rays could turn to Shane McClanahan to provide multiple innings early to bridge the gap to The Stable.
Astros: Urquidy hasn’t pitched past the fifth inning in his previous two playoff starts, which is why the Astros will have Cristian Javier at the ready. Javier, a rookie starter thrust into action with so many injuries to Houston’s rotation, has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings in three playoff relief appearances this year. Setup man Enoli Paredes and closer Ryan Pressly are able to finish it off -- if the Astros can get that far.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Rays: Ryan Thompson has pitched in back-to-back games, so the Rays will likely try and stay away from him. Other than Thompson, Tampa Bay will lean on the bullpen again in Game 3.
Astros: None. Houston’s bullpen has thrown only three innings across the first two games, so everyone will be available to pitch.
Any injuries of note?
Who is hot and who is not?
Rays: Margot and Mike Zunino combined for five home runs during the regular season, but the duo already has six home runs -- three each -- in 15 starts this postseason after both homered in the Game 2 win. Margot has two hits in six at-bats that have come with two outs and runners in scoring position these playoffs. He had just two hits in 19 at-bats in those situations during the regular season.
After an 0-for-4 Game 2, Lowe is now 3-for-34 in the postseason. … Meadows is now 2-for-17 after going 0-for-4 on Monday as well.
Astros: Correa has five homers in the playoffs, which equals the total he hit in the regular season, and he’s batting .423 in the postseason. … Tucker (.364), Michael Brantley (.333), Altuve (.290) and Bregman (.290) are swinging hot sticks in the postseason. Bregman went 0-for-5 in Game 2, but he had five hard-hit balls. … Despite having two hits in Game 2, Gurriel is hitting .143 in the playoffs. Reddick (.208) and Maldonado (.154) are also scuffling at the plate.
Anything else fans want to know?
Rays: The Rays are 34-1, 31-0 and 38-0 when leading after six, seven and eight innings. Since July 28, 2019, they have won 61 straight games when leading after seven innings, the longest active streak in the Majors.
Astros: Correa’s homer in Game 2 was his 16th career playoff homer, which is second most in club history behind Springer’s 17. Altuve also has 16. … Game 3 will be Houston’s 16th consecutive game away from Minute Maid Park. … Astros pitchers have struck out 26 batters across 16 innings in two games. … Houston is 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position, with 21 left on base in the series.