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.

TV: TBS.

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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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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