Win or go home

ALCS Game 4 Preview: Rays vs. Astros

Photo by Will Newton/ Getty Images

We may look back at this ALCS and wonder how things would have shaped up if a few key plays go the other way in favor of the Astros. It certainly looks like they would be in a much better spot if they had, yet Houston sits down 3-0 and needs to win on Wednesday to avoid elimination and play another day. Here is the quick rundown of Game 4:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, October 14th, 7:40 PM Central.

Where: Petco Park - San Diego, California.


Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Tyler Glasnow vs. Zack Greinke.

Series: TB leads 3-0.

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 3Final: Rays 5, Astros 2Ryan Yarbrough (W) vs. Jose Urquidy (L)Astros
Game 4Wed 10/14, 7:40 PMTyler Glasnow vs. Zack GreinkeAstros
Game 5*Thu 10/15, 4:07 PMTBD vs. TBDAstros
Game 6*Fri 10/16, 5:07 PMTBD vs. TBDRays
Game 7*Sat 10/17, 7:37 PMTBD vs. TBDRays

All games played at Petco Park.

* If necessary

Game Storylines

Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow

In case you weren't aware, and get ready because you'll hear it a lot from various outlets, including the TV broadcast itself, there has only been one MLB team to ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, which the Astros currently face, the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Houston shouldn't even put that into their mindset yet and widen their scope to the next four days; they need to hone in on one game, and take it inning by inning, batter by batter.

Before we can even start comparing them to that Red Sox team, they have to win Game 4 to avoid a sweep. Win today to live another day, and if you can do that four times in a row, you move on. The good news there is that's enough of a momentum shift to propel you into a successful World Series, like Boston, who would go on to win it all in 2004.

Leave yesterday in the past

In the same way, the Astros, specifically Jose Altuve, have to try their best to treat this game as if it's in a vacuum. Call it the yips, bad luck, or whatever you want, but one sure way to keep the streak of errors and miscues going is to overcompensate because you've got them on your mind.

Unless he's got something else going on physically, Jose Altuve did not suddenly become a terrible defender during his trip down the coast from Los Angeles to San Diego. Neither did this lineup who won the ALDS via a barrage of hits and homers suddenly become terrible batters. No, you don't have time to let it settle itself out naturally as you would in a long regular season, but neither can you afford to let the mental stress of it impact your game today, either. Houston's best chance today, and in any potential future games this year, is if they can just be themselves, which is more who they were against Oakland than they've been against Tampa Bay.

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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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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