Rays Take ALCS Game 1 from Astros
The Rays won more one-run games than any other MLB team in the 2020 regular season and kept it going with a thrilling 2-1 win in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Astros on Sunday.
Resurgent Jose Altuve took Blake Snell deep into the first inning to give the Astros the early advantage, but they couldn't get through another run that night. That's not to say the Astros didn't stand a chance. They did. However, they faced two crucial doubles, leaving 10 runners on the base.
Snell threw 105 pitches over five innings, allowing six hits and two walks with two swings. Framber Valdez was very good despite the defeat, allowing two runs over six innings with eight strikeouts and four walks. Randy Arozarena faced Valdez in the fourth inning - his fourth home game of the postseason - to get things under control before Mike Zunino scored a starting single in the fifth inning. It turns out that is all the rays would need.
Kevin Cash's "stable" from Reliefs took over in the sixth, delivering four consecutive goalless frames to finish it off. The best chance for Astros to take the lead was in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases with an out against Aaron Loup. Cash then reached out to Diego Castillo, who managed to get Yuli Gurriel into a double game to escape the traffic jam. Castillo was working on a one-off Josh Reddick single in ninth place to secure Game 1 victory for Tampa Bay.
Back to Arozarena, who is just playing out of his head. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he only follows Evan Longoria (six - 2008) and Kyle Schwarber (five - 2015) for most of a freshman's home races in the postseason. He's also high on the board for hard hit balls in the postseason. The MLB world gets to know him in a hurry.
Game 2 of the series takes place on Monday at 4:07 pm. ET. Lance McCullers will try to level things out for the Astros while Charlie Morton gets the ball for the Rays.
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Braves # 2 seeds (35-25 in the regular season) vs Dodgers # 1 seeds (43-17 in the regular season) - Globe Life Field (Arlington, Texas)
The two best teams in the National League, both unbeaten this postseason. As the higher seed, the Dodgers will serve as the home team for the first two games in the series. The series follows a typical 2-3-2 structure, also at the neutral point. What everyone will immediately notice about this series is that these will be the first games of this season that fans will participate. 11,500 tickets will be sold for the games in Globe Life Field, which will check in around 28 percent of the capacity of the new stadium. Fans will also be attending the World Series, which will also be held at the Rangers Stadium.
Game 1 Matchup - Max Fried v Walker Buehler - Monday, 8:08 pm ET
Both teams have their aces in a row after beating their opponents during the NLDS. Fried was actually shaky in his first game against the Marlins last Tuesday, allowing four runs with six hits (including a homer) over four innings. He threw seven goalless pictures against the Reds in the wild card series. Bühler had his own problems starting Game 1 against the Padres last Tuesday, allowing a run with two hits and four walks over four innings with eight throwbacks. He has not exceeded four innings in one start since September 2. Of course, he has dealt with an ongoing bladder problem.
Lineup Edge: Press
Good luck with making a compelling argument one way or another. Put simply, these were the two best offenses in the game during the regular season. The Dodgers scored one run more than the Braves in the regular season and hit 15 other homers. However, the Braves had a 0.832 lead at OPS versus 0.821 at the Dodgers. These teams are very evenly coordinated offensively. The only difficult variable here is that Globe Life Field has been proven dead this postseason to fly balls. If these teams can't come up with big numbers here, maybe no one can.
Good postseason stud: Travis d’Arnaud (8:19 with two HR, two 2B, seven RBI)
Dodger's postseason stud: Mookie Betts (7 versus 19 with five 2B's, four RBI's, six runs, three BB's)
Pitching Edge: Dodgers
That almost feels disrespectful to see the Braves have an ERA of 0.92 in five games this postseason, but the Dodgers are a very different beast from the Reds and Marlins. They are also much more proven in the start pitching department with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw at the helm. Max Fried became one of the NL's top pitchers that season, but Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright don't have such a long track record. The Dodgers didn't announce anything other than Game 2, but Tony Gonsolin, Trevor May and Julio Urias are all in the mix. On the top, the Dodgers have the edge. However, the Braves in the Bullpen are more stable, especially since Kenley Jansen is no longer the clear closer to the Dodgers.
The Dodgers are the favorites (-223 according to PointsBet) on the show, which shouldn't come as a big surprise. With the above categories in mind, the Dodgers have the more diverse roster and were the better defensive team during the regular season. Don't count the Braves though, especially when runs are tough to get at at Globe Life Field and those games boil down to the bullpens.
Quick hits: San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee writes that Padre's right-handed Mike Clevinger is "likely heading for nothing more invasive than arthroscopic surgery" on his right elbow ... Ray's right-handed Charlie Morton told reporters on Sunday that he was doing it He will likely retire if his $ 15 million 2021 option is not exercised. Edwin Rios (groin) should run a bit more on Sunday and take a few live bats to prove his readiness for the NLCS, though he'll likely be limited to pinching tasks when he ends up making the Dodgers list.
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