Rays take 1-0 lead in ALCS
The ALCS got started on Sunday out in San Diego with the Rays facing off against the Astros, pitting the number one seed on the American League side against the surprise of the AL side. After a rough regular season, Houston has rolled through the first two rounds of the postseason. On Sunday, neither side was able to roll with the pitching taking over. Blake Snell was on the mound for Tampa, and he really didn’t have his best stuff. The lefty struggled early on, and Houston had a chance to put a bunch of runs on the board early. They took a 1-0 lead in the first when José Altuve hit a solo shot in the second at bat in the game. They got another runner into scoring position after that, too, but no more runs. The Astros got back-to-back singles in the third, too, and then started the fourth with a single and a walk.
Snell got a huge double play there thanks to a line out right at Willy Adames, who was standing right next to the second base bag, and that essentially served as the turning point in the contest. Snell settled down from there, and limited Houston to just the one run over five innings of work. Meanwhile, Framber Valdez was dealing for the Astros, but after Snell got out of that fourth inning jam, the offense picked him up. And it was none other than Randy Arozarena, who has been the breakout star so far in these playoffs. In the bottom of the fourth, he smacked a solo shot out to right-center field to tie the game up. In the next inning, Adames led things off with a walk before moving up to second on a ground out and then to third on another grounder, leaving it all up to Mike Zunino. The catcher came through with a base hit, and just like that it was a 2-1 lead.
That was all they’d get, but it was also all they needed. The Rays bullpen has been their strongest quality all year, and that continued in this game. John Curtiss and Ryan Thompson each tossed a scoreless inning. Aaron Loup struggled, getting just one out in the eighth while allowing a pair of baserunners, but Diego Castillo came on and ended the frame with a double play on just one pitch. The righty came back out and shut the door in the ninth, finishing off the victory and giving Tampa Bay the early edge in this ALCS.
Game Two will be on Monday at 4:07 PM ET with Lance McCullers Jr. on the mound for Houston while Charlie Morton takes the ball for the Rays.