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Rays force Game 5 with win over Astros

The underdog Tampa Bay Rays have forced an elimination game for the Houston Astros. We break down a dominant performance in Game 4 and look ahead to Game 5.

Tampa Bay Rays DH Tommy Pham is congratulated by his teammate Willy Adames after his home run against the Houston Astros during the first inning in game four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 08, 2019. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays were heavy underdogs entering their American League Divisional Series matchup with the Houston Astros, but they are not going away easily. The Rays beat the Astros for a second straight day, knocking out Justin Verlander and forcing a Game 5 elimination game.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch started Verlander on three days rest, and the second-guessing will last long into the offseason if the Astros lose Game 5. It was the fourth time Verlander has started on short rest, and he struggled out of the gate. Tommy Pham hit a one-out home run in the bottom of the first, and back-to-back hits added two more runs to stake the Rays pitchers to a 3-0 lead.

Diego Castillo got the start, but it was a bullpen game for the team. Castillo went 1 23 innings and combined with five other pitchers to give up six hits and one run. We even saw starter Blake Snell make his first career relief appearance in locking down the save in what could have been a wild ninth inning.

Emilio Pagan opened the ninth getting Michael Brantley to fly out to left field. He then walked Jose Altuve and gave up a single to Alex Bregman, bringing the tying run to the plate. Snell came on in relief to strike out Yordan Alvarez and force Yuli Gurriel into a groundout.

The teams head back to Houston for Game 5 on Thursday. First pitch is set for 7:07 p.m. on FS1. Tyler Glasnow will start for the Rays and Gerrit Cole will start for the Astros.