For the Astros, it is either win-or-go home in Game 5. There is no way around it.
In a series that feels closer than the current 3-1 split, the Astros and Red Sox haven’t played perfect baseball. That said, Houston hasn’t executed well compared to Boston, so that’s why you find the present situation. The defending champions have been their own worst enemy. Or is it now Jackie Bradley Jr.? I’m not sure.
Despite staring down their own baseball mortality, there were a few positives from Wednesday’s wild Game 4. For one, Carlos Correa finished with his first three-hit game since late August. George Springer continues to become the Astros’ version of Mr. October. Tony Kemp continues to prove why he is a part of the future, despite a questionable base running decision that led an out in the eighth inning during Game 4. Josh James threw MAJOR heat, and I can’t wait to see how he develops in the coming years. And Jose Altuve continues to find ways to grind with a bothersome knee injury.
For Game 5, the Astros turn to ace Justin Verlander, who started in the team’s lone ALCS victory up to this point in Game 1. If there is anyone who can pitch Houston to victory, you’d have to role with Verlander.
Here is how the Astros’ lineup is situated for a must-win Game 5.
3B Alex Bregman
RF George Springer
DH Jose Altuve
SS Carlos Correa
1B Yuli Gurriel
LF Tony Kemp
Houston’s lineup changes once again as Correa moves climbs up the batting order to clean up, which moves Gurriel and Gonzalez down the order. Kemp also moves up the lineup to seventh with Marisnick taking over center field. Josh Reddick, the usual starter in right, finds himself on the bench to start Game 5. Maldonado gets the nod as the catcher like he did in Verlander’s previous two postseason starts.
And here is the Red Sox lineup.
RF Mookie Betts
2B Ian Kinsler
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
David Price, Boston’s Game 2 starter, has the nod for Game 5. He is pitching in place of Chris Sale, who was in the hospital earlier in the week with a stomach illness. Sale is likely the Game 6 starter, if necessary. Even though pitcher’s win are not a quality measurement of performance, Price is still looking for his first career postseason win.
The Astros will need a strong performance up-and-down the roster to win. There is no other way to put it. Boston, up to this point, has plainly executed more times than Houston during the past three games. If the Astros don’t find a way to reverse this trend right now, they’ll be watching the World Series from their couches.