It's all or nothing in ALDS Game 5

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 5 preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The favorites to win it all now have one game to either win and continue their quest to a World Series win, or end their journey disappointingly early. After going ahead 2-0 in the series with back-to-back wins at home to start the series, the Astros went to Tropicana Field and dropped two straight to the Rays to even the series and force a winner-take-all Game 5.

The good news for the Astros: they'll be back at home where they have been dominant this year, and unlike in Game 4 where Houston had Justin Verlander on short rest, they have their other ace, Gerrit Cole, on regular rest in the decisive game. Despite Tampa Bay's recent success and credit to them for forcing the series to go this far, the Astros are still heavy favorites to pull out the win to complete the series. Here is a quick preview of Game 5:

Game Facts

When: Thursday, 6:07 p.m Central.

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Gerrit Cole vs. Tyler Glasnow.

Series: tied 2-2.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Astros 6, Rays 2Minute Maid Park, HoustonVerlander (W) vs. Glasnow (L)
Game 2Astros 3, Rays 1Minute Maid Park, HoustonCole (W) vs. Snell (L)
Game 3Rays 10, Astros 3Tropicana Field, St. PetersburgGreinke (L) vs Morton (W)
Game 4Rays 4, Astros 1Tropicana Field, St. PetersburgJustin Verlander (L) vs. Diego Castillo (ND)
Game 5Thursday 10/10, 6:07 PMMinute Maid Park, HoustonGerrit Cole vs. Tyler Glasnow

Game Storylines

Can Cole do it again?

Gerrit Cole has not earned a loss since May 22 of this year. That's simply incredible. Since that game, he has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball, period. That was true in Game 2, where he set a franchise postseason record with fifteen strikeouts. If anyone can stifle a team's momentum, which has just avoided elimination in two-straight games, it's him.

If Cole manages to get deep into the game, the Astros will be in great shape by having a mostly fresh Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna, along with Will Harris, who has been impressive in his appearances in this series which can provide a lights-out seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. No matter how the pitching lines go into the books, though, it will mean nothing if they cannot get enough run support behind them to get the win.

It all comes down to this

Yes, the Astros are favorites to win this game because they're at home and have Gerrit Cole. Still, anything can happen in a Game 5, and like the Astros and other teams have found out the hard way in this early postseason, it's often the team that gets hot first that catches fire and comes out with the win. To that point, it will be important for George Springer, who broke out of his ALDS slump with a 2-for-4 game in Game 4, to try and get the offense going when they come to the plate in the bottom of the first.

The Astros cannot afford to let the Rays build momentum in this game; if they can get ahead early and get the faithful, rowdy crowd at Minute Maid Park behind them in the first few innings, that could be the difference in the game. It won't be easy against this Tampa Bay pitching staff, though, who is one of the best in the league. Should they work over Tyler Glasnow and force him out earlier than the Rays would like, the matchup against Tampa Bay's relievers is still formidable. While a blowout win would be impressive, the Astros would do just as well to capitalize on any scoring opportunity they find themselves in against this stingy set of pitchers.

When you add all the factors up, other than having lost two in a row, there is simply too much in favor of the Astros for them to lose this game. Still, this is playoff baseball, and things rarely go as expected. Houston will need a combination of talent, execution, and a little bit of luck to put this series to rest and move on to the ALCS against the Yankees.

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

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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