|HOU (102) @ pinnacle|
My 10* Las Vegas Insider is on the Hou Astros at 8:40 ET.
The Tampa Bay Rays eked out a 2-1 win in Game 1 on Sunday night and then came back with a 4-2 victory in Game 2, late Monday afternoon. A two-out throwing error by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve brought Manny Margot to the plate with two on in the bottom of the first and he hit Lance McCullers second pitch over the fence in center to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead, one which the Rays never relinquished. Margot then made the "catch of the postseason" in the top of the second, when Houston's George Springer came up with two outs and runners on second and third. Springer hit a fly down the right field line that kept drifting into foul territory toward the wall but Margot made the grab as he hit the wall and then he went over it and fell face first to the concrete below, quickly getting up to hold up his glove, displaying that he made the catch.
The Houston Astros are in desperate need of a win in Game 3, or this ALCS is all but over. Houston manager Dusty Baker insists his message to his team is simple. "I'm not going to have a message other than, 'Hey boys, we got to keep swinging it,'" Baker said Monday after Houston's 4-2 setback in Game 2. "That's all you can do. Talk is cheap. We just got to find some holes." More in a bit.
The pitching matchup will be Ryan Yarbrough for Tampa Bay and Jose Urquidy for Houston. Yarbrough made 38 appearances in 2018 (just six starts) but put together a 16-6 season with a 3.91 ERA. In 2019, 14 of his 28 appearances were starts, as he went 11-6 with a 4.13 ERA. He was mainly a starter in 2020, as NINE of his 11 appearances were as a starter. He was 1-4 with a 3.56 ERA, as the Rays went 4-5 in his starts. Urquidy made nine appearances in 2019 (seven starts), going 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA. He made just five appearances in 2020 (all starts), going just 1-1 (team was 2-3) but posted a 2.73 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and .206 BAA.
This will be Yarbrough's first career playoff start, while Urquidy has started twice this postseason. He was solid in Houston's 3-1 Game 2 win over Minnesota (4.1 IP / 2 hits / 1 ER) but allowed four HRs in 4.1 innings of a 9-7 Game 3 loss to Oakland. Tampa Bay is looking like a team of destiny and manager Kevin Cash has masterfully used his deep and talented bullpen. However, the main core of this Houston team has been together for the last FOUR seasons and I expect them to bounce back here. Dusty is right when he said his team has just "got to keep swinging it! The Astros left seven runners on base over the first four innings in Game 2 and for the series, have scored just three runs while leaving 21 runners on base. Meanwhile, the Rays are up 2-0, with a modest 10 hits (team BA of .169). For at least this contest, it's Houston's 'day!'