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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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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