Two more wins and they're in

ALCS Game 6 Preview: Astros vs. Rays

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After a wild ride in Game 5, where the Astros would gamble and win on a bullpen day, they live to play ALCS Game 6 on Friday and get to hand the ball to their best pitcher right now, Framber Valdez. With a win, they will force one more game, a decisive Game 7, with a chance to become the second team in MLB history to erase a 3-0 series deficit in a best-of-seven series. But first, Game 6:

Game Facts

When: Friday, October 16th, 5:07 PM Central.

Where: Petco Park - San Diego, California.

TV: TBS.

Streaming: Watch TBS App.

Pitching Matchup: Framber Valdez vs. Blake Snell

Series: TB leads 3-2.

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 4Final: Astros 4, Rays 3Tyler Glasnow (L) vs. Zack Greinke (W)Astros
Game 5Final: Astros 4, Rays 3John Curtiss (ND) vs Luis Garcia (ND)Astros
Game 6Fri 10/16, 5:07 PMFramber Valdez vs. Blake SnellRays
Game 7*Sat 10/17, 7:37 PMLance McCullers Jr.+ vs. Charlie Morton+Rays

All games played at Petco Park.

* If necessary
+ Projected starter

Game Storylines

A great time to bat first

After playing the home team in the last three games and batting second, building their momentum along the way, Houston will now switch back to the visiting team for Game 6, and if they force it, Game 7. Heading to the plate first presents them a chance to continue their recent momentum and set the tone right away in the game, if they can score, especially on another first-inning home run.

Beyond that, while they have done increasingly better to get hits and bring in runs, the Astros still need to improve. In particular, Alex Bregman could use a slump-busting performance. Since going 2-for-4 in Game 1, he has gone 1-for-15 over the last four games, including some tough-luck outs along the way. If he can heat up and have a good day, that bodes well for Houston.

A great time to have your best arm on the mound

Dusty Baker stated that had Game 5 gone to extra innings, they would have been forced to bring in Framber Valdez to pitch some innings. Instead, Correa's walk-off home run has them in a prime position to stay in and possibly win this series. Valdez has been Houston's best arm down this stretch, including giving his team six two-run innings in a Game 1 loss.

After the bullpen day on Thursday, they will need him to have a similar or better start, as they can't afford to dip into their bullpen too early. Having used seven of their relievers in Game 5, including an extended appearance by Enoli Paredes and more than an inning by Ryan Pressly, it'll be interesting how Dusty Baker navigates the back-half of the game, especially if it's close or if the Astros are down. To his credit, he's had a couple of good days of right calls and gambles, so we'll see what he can pull from up his sleeve.

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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