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ALDS Game 5 open thread

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Yesterday’s NLDS action had one clunker and one thriller. Which will today’s Rays-Astros game end up like?

Divisional Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The American League Division Series between the Rays and Astros all comes down to tonight. Whichever team wins will have to go face a Yankees club that’s been able to sit around and rest after easily dispatching the Twins. They have not had to burn starting pitchers or relievers just to get through a five-game series.

It is a problem for the Astros of the future, if they make it, as to when they will be able to insert Gerrit Cole, tonight’s starter, into the ALCS rotation. It’d have been better for them if they could use Cole in, say, Game 2 and Game 6 after using Verlander in Game 1 and Game 5 on normal rest. For tonight, they need Cole to pitch well at home just to get that far.

Since Cole struck out 15 Rays batters in 7.2 innings the last time he pitched in this series, that probably feels good for the Astros and bad for the Rays. The thing about baseball, of course, is that you never really know what will happen.

That’s doubly true over the span of one single winner-take-all playoff game. Things can get crazy. We saw that as the two NLDS matchups wrapped up yesterday. No one expects a 10-run first inning on the way to a blowout, as the Cardinals laid on the Braves. No one expects a probable future Hall of Famer to be called upon in relief and dramatically blow a game, followed by a manager improbably leaving some jabroni reliever to wreck the season in extra innings while a great closer sits out in the bullpen. OK, maybe Buck Showalter does.

The game is set for a 7:07 first pitch on Fox Sports 1.

Rays lineup

  1. Austin Meadows - LF
  2. Tommy Pham - DH
  3. Ji-Man Choi - 1B
  4. Travis d’Arnaud - C
  5. Eric Sogard - 2B
  6. Avisail Garcia - RF
  7. Joey Wendle - 3B
  8. Kevin Kiermaier - CF
  9. Willy Adames - SS

Tyler Glasnow gets the start for the Rays, setting up a starting pitching matchup of two guys who got traded away from the Pirates within the last couple of years. Meadows, the leadoff man, was also in the trade that brought Glasnow to Tampa. I don’t think that I would have enjoyed it very much if Manny Machado and Zack Britton were facing one another in the postseason.

Astros lineup

  1. George Springer - CF
  2. Michael Brantley - LF
  3. Jose Altuve - 2B
  4. Alex Bregman - 3B
  5. Yordan Alvarez - DH
  6. Yuli Gurriel - 1B
  7. Carlos Correa - SS
  8. Josh Reddick - RF
  9. Martin Maldonado - C

I wouldn’t normally find myself feeling any affinity towards a team that just won the World Series two years ago, but in the case of the Astros, who had Orioles GM Mike Elias and deputy Sig Mejdal as a big part of building their core that’s looking to go to a third straight ALCS, I can make an exception.

If the Astros could be built into a sustained winner, then maybe the Orioles can be, too, and I think their continued success for another couple of years might make me feel like that’s part of the blueprint for the O’s. Or so I can dream.