Houston’s bats were silenced by Tampa Bay’s ace Charlie Morton, losing 10-3 in Game 3. But despite the blowout, the Astros still have the edge in this ALDS.
The Astros winning Game 3 wasn’t essential but had they managed to win and advance to the ALCS, Houston would have been able to get both starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole rested for the next series. But after a rough outing from Zack Greinke, allowing the Rays to go deep three times resulting in six runs, the Astros are feeling the momentum shift back towards the Rays.
For once, Tropicana Field felt full of fans. Despite some rows in the upper decks still empty, the Astros felt the crowd likely for the first time playing in Tampa Bay that season. It could have had an impact on the Houston bats, but the same could be said for the Tampa Bay offense that scored more runs Monday afternoon than they had the whole postseason.
The Rays owe Game 3 to Charlie Morton, who for five innings held the Astros to one run while striking out nine batters. After Morton left the game, the Rays had jumped out to an 8-1 lead, but the Astros offense started to show signs of life. They scored two more runs in six off a single from Yuli Gurriel and had a few more promising at-bats, but the combination of Greinke’s poor outing and Morton shoving was too much to overcome.
The good news for Houston is that they won’t have to face Morton again in Game 4, with the Rays expected to go with a bullpen game for Tuesday.
Houston is planning on starting Verlander in Game 4. Which, of course, is awesome.
Even though Game 3 was disappointing and cast some doubts about the Astros’ pitching behind Verlander and Cole, the momentum is still very much with Houston. It took an extremely poor outing from Greinke, who for some reason couldn’t throw his change-up, and Morton once again stealing another win in an elimination game for the Rays to win one game against the Astros.
Houston recovered well after a tough four-run inning and had the lead not gotten out of hand so early, manager A.J. Hinch is likely more aggressive with his pitching choices, pulling Wade Miley after the 4th inning. But Hinch kept Miley in the game for 2.2 innings to keep his bullpen ready for Game 4, giving the Astros a particularly fresh backend bullpen to help Verlander close out this series.
The talent on Houston’s side is just flat-out better and it feels like Tampa Bay has used all their bullets in this series. But if Houston can score early and give Verlander an early lead, it’s hard to see this Rays team being able to come from behind and win Game 4. There are some worries in Houston overall, but there are no problems at the moment.