Houston in desperate need of a win

ALCS Game 3 Preview: Rays vs. Astros

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It's (practically speaking) now or never for the Astros. After dropping Games 1 and 2, Houston faces a potential 3-0 deficit should they lose ALCS Game 3 on Tuesday night, a point in a seven-game series that, even in baseball, is just about impossible to come back from and win.

Houston does have some good points of their game to consider, along with some bad luck and small yet costly mental errors to avoid to turn this series around. Here are some facts and storylines for Game 3:

Game Facts

When: Tuesday, October 13th, 7:40 PM Central.

Where: Petco Park - San Diego, California.

TV: TBS.

Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Ryan Yarbrough vs. Jose Urquidy.

Series: TB leads 2-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central)Pitching MatchupHome Team
Game 1Final: Rays 2, Astros 1Framber Valdez (L) vs. Blake Snell (W)Rays
Game 2Final: Rays 4, Astros 2Lance McCullers Jr. (L) vs. Charlie Morton (W)Rays
Game 3Tue 10/13, TBDRyan Yarbrough vs. Jose UrquidyAstros
Game 4Wed 10/14, TBDTyler Glasnow vs. TBDAstros
Game 5*Thu 10/15, TBDTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 6*Fri 10/16, TBDTBD vs. TBDRays
Game 7*Sat 10/17, TBDTBD vs. TBDRays

All games played at Petco Park.

* If necessary

Game Storylines

The smallest changes can have the biggest impacts

The Astros can use any excuse to treat this like a new series and shrug off the first two games. The ultimate way to do that would be winning the next two games and making it a fresh, best-of-three over the last three games. Until then, they can at least take the change of outlook by batting second in Game 3 as they play the home team.

That allows them the opportunity to build some confidence on the field behind Jose Urquidy before they step into the box. That confidence could be the difference between their hard-luck outs so far in this series and putting some runs on the board, something they'll need to do early on Tuesday. Houston must improve with runners in scoring position, where they currently sit 3-for-16. If they can cash in on a few of those chances when they come up, Game 3 will look vastly different from the prior two.

Keep fighting the pitching battle

With the three-run home run allowed by Lance McCullers Jr. in Game 2 coming after an error, those runs would go down as unearned. He allowed just one earned run over his seven impressive innings, following Game 1 starter Framber Valdez, who allowed two earned runs over six. Combine the two, and they've gone 13 innings of three-run baseball, with three innings of scoreless bullpen work after them to finish both games.

On the other side, the Rays have just ten innings out of their starters and already eight from their relievers. That gives the Astros, at least in terms of rest, a bullpen advantage in Game 3 and potentially beyond. If they can chase Tampa Bay's starter out at five innings or less once again, ideally with runs already on the board, the Astros will be in a position to stress the Rays' bullpen further, which could be a pivotal component to the final games of the series.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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