Saturday night features a one-game playoff for all the American League marbles as the Astros have rallied from three games down to force a Game 7 tonight. Let’s make some money breaking this one down.
Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Saturday, October 17, 2020 – 8:37 PM ET at PETCO Park
Astros Refuse to Lose
Houston looked like a beaten club earlier this week as they bowed in the first three games of the ALCS to the Tampa Bay Rays. But suddenly they have caught fire, cashing as underdogs over their last three games for all of those who have backed them in their MLB picks, and knotted the series at three games apiece. Tonight’s matchup will decide which team will advance to the World Series to meet either the Braves or the Dodgers.
In Friday night’s win, the heart of the Houston order did most of the damage while Kyle Tucker also contributed a solo shot as the Astros drew away to a 7-1 advantage in the top of the seventh inning before the Rays added three runs to make the score a bit more respectable.
Tonight, Houston will send Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93, 1.16 WHIP) to the bump where he will try for a different result than the one he got on Monday when he was tagged for four runs but only one earned over seven full innings in a 4-2 loss to the Rays. The 27-year-old southpaw is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts over his pair of postseason appearances thus far.
Rays Ready to Rally
There is little doubt the Rays and their fans will be ruing this lost opportunity for years to come if they lose a fourth consecutive game to the most hated team in all of baseball – the Houston Astros. Houston has simply been the more determined team since Tampa Bay bolted out to a 3-0 series lead. Few, if any, thought it would ever come down to a Game 7 but here we are and the Rays will rely on veteran hurler, Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.74 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), to bring them home.
The last time Morton took the mound he led the Rays to a 4-2 win over the Astros in which he went five full innings and held Houston to five hits and no runs on the board.
"As much as anybody on our roster, he's the been-there, done-that guy," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We've relied on Charlie quite a bit in his two years with us; not sure there will be a game bigger than this to rely on him. But just confident that his poise, his experience will allow us to get off to a good start and see if we can get some runs on the board for him early."
Wanna Make a Bet?
As we take a look at the MLB odds on this Game 7 showdown, we see that the top online sportsbooks are dealing the Rays as anywhere between -146 and -150 favorites. Let’s not forget that the teams have been playing at PETCO Park, the home of the San Diego Padres, so there is no home-field advantage for either side.
As solid as Charlie Morton has been in his two postseason appearances, allowing only two runs on nine hits over 10 frames, he’s not a workhorse and will be good for no more than five full innings if he gets there. Let’s also remember that Lance McCullers has been impressive over his last several appearances, allowing only five earned runs over his last five outings.
Let’s ride the hot hand with the Astros, a team that has refused to quit and is also getting a very generous +136 over at Heritage. If Houston gets to Morton early it will be lights out but even if they don’t the Rays’ bullpen will be up and running after five innings to be sure and that’s not a team on which I am willing to roll the dice, especially when I can get what I believe to be the better starting pitcher, as a rather sizeable underdog.