Houston's season is in serious jeopardy

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

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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