Houston's season is in serious jeopardy

Another dreadful inning hands Rays a commanding 3-0 ALCS lead over Astros

Astros Jose Altuve
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Jose Altuve after another costly error

Sitting in a 2-0 hole starting the day, the Astros had to get something together to make this ALCS competitive with the Rays and get into the win column. They would flip around and play as the home team on Tuesday night, providing at least a subtle change to help put the previous two games in the rear-view mirror.

Unfortunately, the Astros would suffer the same result in Game 3 as the previous two, with the Rays capitalizing on costly errors to get the win and go up 3-0 in the series:

Final Score: Rays 5, Astros 2.

Series: TB leads 3-0.

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Yarbrough.

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy.

Altuve homers then commits another mammoth error

For the second time in three games, Jose Altuve started the scoring with a solo home run in the first inning. That provided Jose Urquidy with a lead to work with, which he would hold very well over the first five innings. Urquidy allowed just three hits over the first five innings, keeping the Rays off the board and looking impressive in the process. He allowed a leadoff single in the top of the sixth, then induced what should have been a double-play groundball. It instead would go down as Altuve's third error in the last two games, both extremely costly.

Houston would move to their bullpen to try and get out of the jam, bringing in Enoli Paredes, who had been electric on the mound to this point in the postseason. That changed in this game, as he would load the bases on a single before allowing a two-RBI single to put the Rays ahead 2-1. The damage didn't stop there, as Paredes would hit a batter to load the bases again, then hit the next batter on the very next pitch, making it 3-1. The Astros would try another reliever, Brooks Raley, but he too would be unable to stop Tampa Bay's momentum, allowing a two-RBI double to push the lead to 5-1 before he would put an end to the dreadful inning for Houston.

Tampa Bay takes commanding 3-0 series lead

Michael Brantley would try and shift the momentum back Houston's way in the bottom of the inning, taking the first pitch deep to cut it to a 5-2 lead. Josh James was next out of the Astros' bullpen for the top of the seventh, a quick 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game. Still 5-2 in the top of the eighth, James would get another quick inning, retiring the Rays in order.

Jose Altuve would attempt to start a rally in the bottom of the eighth, reaching base on a leadoff single, followed by a single by Michael Brantley to bring the tying run to the plate. Carlos Correa would win a lengthy at-bat, getting an infield single to load the bases, still with one out. Tampa Bay's defense would come through again, though, with two great plays to strand all three runners. Despite bringing the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, Houston would add no runs, as Tampa Bay would close out the win to go up 3-0 in the ALCS, a deficit that only one MLB team has ever come back from to advance.

Up Next: ALCS Game 4 will be another 7:40 PM Central start on Wednesday. Tampa Bay will have Tyler Glasnow (2-0, 4.05 ERA in the postseason) on the mound while Houston will hope to get a better start from Zack Greinke, who sits 0-0 with a 5.19 ERA after his two starts in the playoffs, exiting both before reaching five innings.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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