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Astros, Rays prepare for ALCS closeout Game 7. Winner advances to World Series

FILE: Players celebrate Houston Astros Carlos Correa hits a walk off home run during the ninth inning in Game 5 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in San Diego. The Astros defeated the Rays 4-3 and the Rays lead the series 3-2 games. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
FILE: Players celebrate Houston Astros Carlos Correa hits a walk off home run during the ninth inning in Game 5 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in San Diego. The Astros defeated the Rays 4-3 and the Rays lead the series 3-2 games. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – Raise your hand if you thought there would be a Game 7 of this 2020 American League Conference Series between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Trailing 0-3, but the Astros were not ready to go home. Houston won three straight and now are a win away from their third World Series in four years.

Game 7: the two best words in all of the sports. We all get to watch it unfold tonight.

Here is what you need to know:

Pitching matchup:

On full rest, Lance McCullers Jr. will get the ball and make his second career Game 7 start. Lance was solid Monday in Game 1 when he struck out 11 in seven innings giving up one earned run and four overall.

He will be opposed by Rays ace and former Astros star Charlie Morton, who also happens to be good friends with McCullers. Morton went five innings in Game 2 and allowed only one run.  In his career, Morton has three wins and an ERA under one.

Key to the game:

Morton is steady, especially in pressure games. So the Astros need a fast start scoring early and make Morton work. 

McCullers Jr. needs to avoid the mistake pitches the Rays hitters will pounce on.  He needs his curveball to be a go-to pitch, high velocity and try to match the seven innings he gave manager Dusky Baker in Game 2.

ASTROS LINEUP

1. George Springer CF

2. Jose Altuve 2B

3. Michael Brantley DH

4. Carlos Correa SS

5. Alex Bregman 3B

6. Kyle Tucker LF

7. Yuli Gurriel 1B

8. Josh Reddick RF

9. Martin Maldonado C

Starting Pitcher: Lance McCullers

RAYS LINEUP

1. Manuel Margot RF

2. Brandon Lowe 2B

3. Randy Arozarena LF

4. Austin Meadows DH

5. Ji-Man Choi 1B

6. Willy Adames SS

7. Joey Wendle 3B

8. Mike Zunino C

9. Kevin Kiermaier CF

Starting Pitcher: Charlie Morton