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‘Relentless’ Rays in a pretty good spot heading into Game 4

With four chances to get the clinching win against the Astros, the World Series seems a likely destination.
Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate after beating the Houston Astros 5-2 in the American League Championship Series Game 3 on Tuesday night in San Diego.
Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate after beating the Houston Astros 5-2 in the American League Championship Series Game 3 on Tuesday night in San Diego. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]
Published Oct. 14, 2020
Updated Oct. 14, 2020

SAN DIEGO — Of course, something still could go wrong.

The Rays are up three games to none in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series over an Astros team that looks defeated, but their trip to the World Series won’t be official until they get one more win, and they have four chances starting tonight (8:40 p.m., TBS).

Of the 38 teams that have started 0-3 in a best-of-seven MLB postseason, only one has come back to win: the 2004 Red Sox over the Yankees in the ALCS.

So the Astros at least have hope.

“So far things haven’t been going our way," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve really got our backs up against the wall. It’s a steep mountain to climb, but it’s not impossible. We’ve just got to tighten our belts, put our big-boy pants on and come out fighting.”

They will send veteran Zack Greinke to the mound to try to hold the Rays down and hope they can improve their fortunes after leaving at least 10 men on base in each of the first three games.

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Thirty of the teams that had 3-0 leads went ahead and completed the sweep. The Rays would just as well prefer to get it done tonight, and they feel good about having Tyler Glasnow on the mound.

For omens, Glasnow started the clinching Game 2 in the AL Wild Card Series against Toronto and the clinching Game 5 in the ALDS against New York.

Plus the only time the Rays lost more than three in a row was that 0-5 road trip early in the season.

If the Rays do get that final win, they will head next to Arlington, Texas, where they will face either the Braves or the Dodgers in the World Series starting Tuesday.

Tuesday’s 5-2 victory was what Kevin Kiermaier called “a classic Rays win — dominant pitching, phenomenal defense and picking our times to score runs.”

And as they improved to 8-2 in the postseason, Kiermaier said they feel they are doing just about everything well.

“We want to be that complete team,” he said. “We want to be able to hit, pitch, play defense, run the bases, do it all. I think we’re pretty close to all those at the elite level. I think that’s why we’re here today with a 3-0 lead in the ALCS one game away from a World Series opportunity.”

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Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked what he thought it would be like to have to play against his team.

“Hopefully, it’s relentless,” Cash said. "As far as the constant pitching that comes, whether it’s starters or relievers, it’s just really good pitching. The defense, it can wear you down. They’re hitting some rockets and for whatever reason we’re right where — so far — their balls have been going. That can wear you down.

“So it’s a relentless approach. ... I think we’ve showed we can do it in all facets of the game.”