Revived Astros aim to push ALCS to Game 6

For the Houston Astros, the road back from a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series is paved one win at a time.

After narrowly holding off the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4, the Astros get less than 24 hours to attempt to stave off elimination yet again in Game 5 on Thursday afternoon at San Diego.

The contest will begin at 2:07 p.m. PT after Wednesday’s affair ended just before 9 p.m. PT. Houston posted a 4-3 victory to avoid a four-game sweep.

Rays going with Curtiss as opener

Tampa Bay will use right-hander John Curtiss as its opener on Thursday. Curtis has recorded three straight scoreless outings after surrendering five runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning against the New York Yankees on Oct. 5.

John Curtiss
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Curtiss, 27, sported a 3-0 record with a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings during the regular season. He allowed one run on two hits in one inning for a no-decision in his lone career appearance against Houston.

The Astros will turn to rookie right-hander Luis Garcia, who posted an 0-1 record with a 2.92 ERA in five appearances during the regular season.

Garcia, 23, is making his first appearance since working one-third of an inning in a no-decision at Texas on Sept. 27. He has yet to face the Rays in his brief career.

Prior to this season, Garcia had not appeared in a game above Class A.

If the Rays win one more game, they would advance to the World Series for the first time since 2008. An Astros win would set up a Game 6 to be played Friday.

Did Astros’ team meeting spark turnaround?

Prior to Wednesday’s must-win affair, Houston players held a team meeting in an effort to shake up the way the series was going. Manager Dusty Baker also delivered a short message, though he said he left the majority of the talking to the team’s leaders.

“Nobody is ready to go home,” Baker said. “I’m not ready to go home. We’re ready to go to Dallas (for the World Series). That is kind of what my message was.”

Which players spoke up during the meeting wasn’t revealed, but Jose Altuve and George Springer used their bats to so some talking on the field.

Altuve homered in the first inning for the third time in the series and had two RBIs. Springer’s two-run home run in the fifth stood up as the game-winner. Springer, who entered the night hitting .143 in the series, went 3-for-4 in the victory.

The big night by Altuve was of particular note given how costly his errors at second base had been each of the prior two games.

“I didn’t have a choice. It was win today or go home, and I didn’t want to go home,” Altuve said. “I turned the page pretty quick and showed up today ready to help my team.”

The Rays, despite holding a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series, are still looking to see who will step up for them on offense. Tampa Bay is batting a collective .197 in the ALCS.

“We’ve got to get the bats going, no doubt about it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve been carried here by our pitching and defense — that’s how we’re built — but it sure would be nice to find a way to get the bats going and keep the line moving a little bit. Right now it’s not coming easy for really anybody with the exception of a couple guys.”

Randy Arozarena continues to lead the way for Tampa Bay after slugging a two-run blast Wednesday night for his fifth home run of the postseason. Willy Adames added an RBI double with two outs in the ninth, but Yoshi Tsutsugo lined out to end the game.

The Rays played Game 4 without center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who injured his left wrist when he was hit by pitch the night prior. Cash indicated Kiermaier could have played. Brandon Lowe also was given a day off from the starting lineup before striking out as a pinch hitter in the ninth.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)