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Scores vs. Astros: Tampa clinches’ journey to the World Series as Houston’s historic comeback bid falls



The 2004 Red Sox could pop champagne. They are still the only team in MLB history to return from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. The Tampa Bay Rays clinched the American League, which ended with the Houston Astros’ win in Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday night (TB 4, HOU 2). Tampa led the series 3-0, but the Astros forced Game 7 to win Games 4, 5, and 6.

Charlie Morton shut down his former team in Game 7, holding the Astros unmarked by 5 2/3 innings before giving way to the bullpen. The house runs from Randy Arozarena and Mike Zunino gives Tampa an early pillow that they nurse the rest of the way. The Astros brought the run to the plate in the eighth inning, but eventually it was too little, too late.

The Astros have already seen their season end in significant fashion in Game 7 in the back-to-back years. Last season the Nationals mounted a late-inning comeback to win Game 7 of the World Series. During this time, Houston̵

7;s attempt to return from a 3-0 series deficit failed.

Here are the acquisitions from Rays’ Game 7 winners.

Arozarena came home again

Randy Arozarena is Atlas. His teammates give him a little help offensively, so he just keeps pouring big dinger. Arozarena opened the scoring in Game 7 with a two-run home run in the first inning. This is his seventh home run in 14 games this posteason.

The homer came with a fastball off the plate and it was a kind of amazing team still throwing Arozarena heaters. According to YES Network researcher James Smyth, Arozarena is 10 for 20 with triple and five homers against fastballs this postseason (.500 average batting and 1,350 slugging percentages). That means he is 11 for 32 with three doubles and two homers against all (.344 and .625). That’s even better! But not as good as his numbers against fastballs. Arozarena’s seven home runs are the long-awaited rookie in a single posteason, separating a tie with former Ray Evan Longoria (2008). Only three players hit multiple homers in a single posteason:

  1. Barry Bonds, 2002 Giants: 8 HR
  2. Carlos Beltran, 2004 Astros: 8 HR
  3. Nelson Cruz, 2011 Rangers: 8 HR
  4. Many are tied to 7 HR, including Arozarena

Moreover, Arozarena now has 21 hits in the postseason, tying him up with Yuli Gurriel (2017) for second by a rookie in a single postseason. Derek Jeter had 22 hits as a rookie in the 1996 postseason. Arozarena went 8 for 28 (.286) with four home runs in the series.

Morton dominates his former team

For the first time in MLB history, two players who have established themselves as teammates in a take-all-game winner face off against each other starting with another winner’s game. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. advocated against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS, then clashed with each other in Game 7 of the 2020 ALCS. Morton is only the sixth pitcher to face his former team in a win-take-all game in the postseason. The list:

  • Charlie Morton, Rays: 2020 ALCS vs. Astros
  • CC Sabathia, Yankees: 2017 ALDS vs. Cleveland
  • Roger Clemens, Yankees: 2003 ALCS vs. Red Sox
  • Pete Vuckovich, Brewers: 1982 World Series vs. Cardinals
  • Jerry Reuss, Dodgers: 1981 NLDS vs. Astros
  • Lew Burdette, Braves: 1957 and 1958 World Series vs. Yankees

Morton pushed against his former teammates in Game 7. His fastball averaged 95.3 mph, his highest average speed at a start since last year of the Wild Card Game, and his number of pitch by caution is good: 11, 12, 7 13, 6, 17. He is dominant and great, and at one point he retired 14 straight Astros. Morton allowed no more than one run earnings in each last posteason in the last posteason, the second longest draw in history (Curt Schilling had six straight).

Houston never got anything against the righteous. Morton is the only pitcher in baseball history to earn a win over three winners in all posteason games (2017 ALCS Game 7, 2017 World Series Game 7, and 2019 AL Wild Card Game). Now he has his fourth win in a win-take-all game on his credit.

headshot image

McCullers, on the other hand, handed a two-run home run to Arozarena and a second-inning solo homer to Mike Zunino. Those were the only three operations he allowed, but he needed 75 pitches to get 11 out and not complete four innings. The Houston bullpen worked hard in Games 4-6 and Jose Urquidy gave up an insurance run on the sixth inning sacrifice fly.

Cash had a quick hook again

In Game 6, Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled starter Blake Snell to his pitch count of 82 in the fourth inning, and Snell was unhappy. “It’s just annoying. Give me a shot. I want to be that guy who takes the team inside the ballgame,” Snell said afterwards.

The bullpen went to blow lead. Fast hooks and bullpening are what the Rays do, and Cash is stuck in the game plan in Game 7. Even though Morton has a cruise and his pitch number sits at 66, Cash went to his bullpen in the sixth inning. Michael Brantley is at the plate representing the tied run following the walk and an infield single. Unlike Game 6, the fast hook worked on Game 7. Nick Anderson, who allowed running in each of his past three releases, replaced Morton and got the final ground ball from Brantley. The Astros pushed a pair of runs against Anderson and Pete Fairbanks in the eighth, but otherwise held the offense to Houston.

The construction of Tampa in Game 7:

Charlie Morton

5 2/3

2

0

0

1

6

Nick Anderson

2

3

2

2

1

0

Pete Fairbanks

1 1/3

2

0

0

1

3

Total

9

7

2

2

3

9

With two winners in all games this posteason (ALDS Game 5 and ALCS Game 7), the Tampa construction staff held the Yankees and Astros high-powered offenses in three runs and 10 hits in 18 smoking. Pretty great way to win an elimination game, that is. The Rays now win 63 straight games when leading after seven innings, the longest active baseball wheel.

The Rays will go to the World Series

For the second time in franchise history. They went to the World Series in 2008 but lost to the Phillies, so they are still looking for their first championship. Tampa will face the winner in Game 7 of Sunday night between the Braves and Dodgers. Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled for Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The Rays have not yet announced their pitch plans, though Tyler Glasnow has lined up to promote Game 1 with an extra day off. He will probably get the ball on Tuesday.




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