The Astros and Rays are facing off in Game 5 of the American League Division Series in Houston to decide who advances to the AL Championship Series after Tampa Bay won both games at Tropicana Field to erase Houston's 2-0 series lead.
The Astros are sending Gerrit Cole, who hasn’t lost a game in nearly five months, to the mound against Tyler Glasnow, who worked 4 1/3 innings against Houston earlier in the series. The two former Pirates top prospects likely will play a large role in the high-stakes game, with the winner moving on to face the Yankees in the ALCS beginning Saturday.
“It’s going to be great to play in front of our fans,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. “We’ve got a good guy going for us; they’ve got a good guy going for them. It’s going to be a battle, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 5 is live on FS1.
All games telecast on TBS and FS1 will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.
Here are the starting lineups
Rays: Tampa Bay has hit 10 homers over its three elimination games, and after going deep Tuesday, Tommy Pham and Willy Adames each have two. Pham is leading the team with a .429 postseason average.
1) Austin Meadows, LF
2) Tommy Pham, DH
3) Ji-Man Choi, 1B
4) Travis d'Arnaud, C
5) Eric Sogard, 2B
6) Avisaíl García, RF
7) Joey Wendle, 3B
8) Kevin Kiermaier, CF
9) Willy Adames, SS
Astros: With Cole on the mound, the Astros will have Martín Maldonado back behind the plate. Manager AJ Hinch shuffled the lineup for Game 4 to combat the Rays’ rotating relievers and goes with the same group 1-8 again.
1) George Springer, CF
2) Michael Brantley, LF
3) José Altuve, 2B
4) Alex Bregman, 3B
5) Yordan Alvarez, DH
6) Yuli Gurriel, 1B
7) Carlos Correa, SS
8) Josh Reddick, RF
9) Martín Maldonado, C
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rays: Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 4.15 ERA)
The lanky right-hander will be pitching on an extra day’s rest after working 4 1/3 innings of Friday’s Game 1 loss, a tilt during which he allowed just two runs, on an Altuve homer.
Glasnow missed nearly four months with a right forearm strain, and he returned Sept. 8 to string together a four-outing stretch during which he had a 1.46 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings.
• Glasnow gets call for decisive Game 5 start
Astros: Gerrit Cole (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Cole has been the best pitcher in baseball the past five months. He hasn’t lost a game since May 22, going 17-0 with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP in his last 23 starts, including a 15-strikeout masterpiece in Game 2. Houston has won Cole's last 14 starts.
Cole dominated the Rays in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, becoming the first pitcher in 19 years to strike out at least 15 batters in a playoff game. He’s struck out at least 10 batters in 10 consecutive starts -- a Major League record -- and has had at least 14 punchouts in five of those starts.
• Astros 'fired up' with Cole on mound in Game 5
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rays: After using six relievers on Tuesday, Tampa Bay would like Glasnow to provide some length. But if he runs into any trouble, the Rays will go to the 'pen early and often -- the entire pitching staff will be available.
That would include Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, who are the other two starters on the roster. Morton would be on three days' rest, which is typically a bullpen day for a starting pitcher, and he could come in to record a couple of big outs.
Astros: If Cole can get through six or seven innings, the Astros will try to close it out with their best three relievers -- Will Harris, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. If any other relievers pitch, that probably means things have gone awry.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Any injuries of note?
Rays: Yandy Díaz left Game 3 due to left foot soreness and didn’t play in Game 4. The Rays say Díaz will be available in Game 5, and they’ll certainly lean on his bat if the opportunity presents itself.
Who is hot and who is not?
Rays: Pham (.429), Adames (.357) and García (.353) have combined for 20 hits, eight RBIs and five home runs this postseason. Díaz has gone deep twice. Pham leads all Rays with nine postseason hits, while García broke out with four hits in Game 4.
Astros: Altuve (.313), Alvarez (.375) and Bregman (.385) have 16 of the Astros’ 32 hits in the series. Springer broke an 0-for-13 skid with a single in his first at-bat in Game 4, but he is 2-for-17 in the series. Brantley (.125), Correa (.200) and Reddick (0-for-7) are also scuffling at the plate.
Anything else fans might want to know?
• The Astros are 4-4 in winner-take-all playoff games, with their most recent one being a win in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.
• This will be the Rays’ second winner-take-all game this postseason and sixth in franchise history (4-1). They’ve won four elimination games in a row.
• Tampa Bay has a chance to become the 11th team to win a best-of-five series after trailing 2-0.
• Teams that once trailed a series 0-2 are 10-6 in decisive Game 5s.
• Houston has homered in a franchise-record 29 consecutive games.
• This year, the Astros became the 13th team in Major League history and first since the 1998 Yankees to win at least 60 games at home (60-21).
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.