SAN DIEGO (AP) — Outstanding rookie Randy Arozarena homered once more, 36-year-old Charlie Morton was sensible towards his former group and the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Collection for the second time, silencing the Houston Astros 4-2 Saturday night time in Sport 7 of the AL Championship Collection.
The Rays will face both the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves within the World Collection in Arlington, Texas, beginning Tuesday night time. Sport 7 of the NLCS is Sunday night time.
Tampa Bay’s solely different World Collection look was in 2008, when it misplaced to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The progressive Rays led the AL with a 40-20 file within the pandemic-shortened season. Identified for his or her pitching and protection, additionally they launched the idea of the starter and generally deploy a four-man outfield.
Tampa Bay snapped a three-game dropping streak and prevented the Astros from matching the 2004 Boston Pink Sox, the one main league group to rally from a 3-Zero deficit to win a seven-game sequence.
The Rays additionally stored the Astros from turning into the primary group to win a pennant with a dropping regular-season file (29-31).
The loss ended Houston’s first season since its sign-stealing scandal was revealed. The Astros had been considered by many followers as villains for his or her position within the dishonest scandal en path to the 2017 title towards the Dodgers.
Mike Zunino homered and drove in two runs for the Rays, who averted the ignominy of becoming a member of the 2004 New York Yankees, who took a 3-Zero lead within the ALCS and misplaced 4 straight to the Pink Sox. Boston went on to win its first World Collection in 86 seasons.
Arozarena, comparatively unknown earlier than these playoffs, set a rookie file along with his seventh homer of the postseason. His 21 hits are one shy Derek Jeter’s 1996 rookie postseason file.
Nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” the 25-year-old Arozarena drove a 1-1 sinker from Lance McCullers Jr. to right-center subject at Petco Park with one out within the first for a two-run homer.
Manuel Margot, who performed with the San Diego Padres from late within the 2016 season till being traded to Tampa Bay within the offseason, was aboard after getting hit with a pitch.
Arozarena defected from Cuba to Mexico in 2015, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 and made his massive league debut final 12 months. Traded to Tampa Bay within the offseason, he examined constructive for COVID-19 earlier than summer season camp and didn’t make his 2020 debut till Aug. 30.
Till he began exhibiting his October energy, Arozarena was greatest identified for a gaffe he dedicated whereas with the St. Louis Cardinals final postseason. After the Cardinals beat Atlanta within the NL Division Collection, he posted supervisor Mike Schildt’s profane clubhouse rant to social media, not realizing it could get a detrimental response.
Morton held the Astros to 2 hits in 5 2/Three scoreless innings whereas putting out six and strolling one. He retired 14 straight batters till strolling Martin Maldonado with one out within the sixth. George Springer pressured Maldonado and took third on José Altuve’s two-out infield single, and supervisor Kevin Money pulled Morton after simply 66 pitches. Nick Anderson got here on and retired Michael Brantley.
Morton is the primary main leaguer to earn the victory in 4 winner-take-all video games, together with Sport 7 of the 2017 World Collection and Sport 7 of the 2017 ALCS towards the Yankees when he was with Houston. He signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent earlier than the 2019 season and gained the wild card recreation at Oakland final 12 months. The Rays had been then eradicated by the Astros within the ALDS.
The Astros broke by way of towards the Rays’ bullpen within the eighth. Carlos Correa hit a two-run single off Pete Fairbanks earlier than the reliever struck out Alex Bregman on a 100 mph fastball.
Fairbanks labored round a one-out single within the ninth to shut it.
McCullers Jr. lasted solely Three 2/Three innings. He allowed three runs and 4 hits, struck out seven and walked one.
Morton and McCullers grew to become the primary pair to pitch in the identical winner-take-all postseason recreation as teammates and later begin towards one another in a winner-take-all recreation. Within the decisive Sport 7 of the 2017 World Collection, McCullers began and went 2 1/Three scoreless innings whereas Morton pitched the ultimate 4 innings for the victory.
Zunino hit a solo shot into the second deck in left off McCullers with one out within the second and added a sacrifice fly within the sixth. On Friday night time, he snapped his bat over his knee in frustration after putting out on three pitches.
Arozarena is just one homer away from matching the key league file of eight homers in any single postseason. Barry Bonds set the mark for San Francisco in 2002, and it was tied by Houston’s Carlos Beltran in 2004 and Texas’ Nelson Cruz in 2011. Arozarena is barely the ninth participant ever to homer seven instances in a single postseason, all of them occurring since 1995 within the wild card period.
Rays: Three-time Gold Glove Award-winning CF Kevin Kiermaier was again within the lineup. He missed three begins after being hit with a pitch on the left hand in Sport 3.
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