Rays Double up Astros, Advance To World Series

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Rays 4, Astros 2

Game Sevens are what sports fans dream about. Unless you are of course a fan of one of the teams. The Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros series has been an incredible roller coaster, with many twists and turns and upset stomachs along the way. When it came down to it, one team needed to say, enough is enough. That turned out to be the Rays.

Getting off to a fast start is important in any game but ever so vital in a winner take all scenario. ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena did just that in the bottom of the first. After working the count back to 2-2, he didn’t miss a fastball left out over the plate by Lance McCullers Jr, sending it over the center-field wall for a 2-0 lead. Mike Zunino added a run in the second with his second home run of the series, a no-doubter to left. He later provided an insurance run with a sacrifice fly, scoring the fourth and final run for the Rays.

The Astros made things interesting in the eighth. Carlos Correa came up representing the tying run and singled to right, cutting the lead in half. Alex Bregman ended the inning one hitter later when he chased a fastball up and out of the zone.

Peter Fairbanks closed it out in the ninth, striking out two and getting Aledmys Diaz to fly out on the first pitch of his at-bat.

Cash Is King

To say Kevin Cash does things unconventional would be an understatement. Game Seven was no different. Rays starter Charlie Morton was cruising his way through the Astros lineup. So much so, he had retired the first 15 men he faced. In the six inning however, he faced his first test with two on and two out. What happened next was a real head-scratcher for most. Cash made his way out of the dugout and said it was time for the stable of 98’s. Nick Anderson came in to save the starter. Rays fans and baseball fans remember this backfiring just 24 hours before when Blake Snell was pulled early in his Game Six start.

This time, however, it paid off. Anderson got Michael Brantley to softly ground out to end theĀ  sixth. It was now a matter of counting outs. Nine more outs spread around his best relievers available. Cash knew what he was doing, and it was done to perfection.

Heading into Game Seven, Cash played out in his head the best and worse case scenarios. Getting 5 2/3 innings from Morton and the final ten outs from Anderson and Fairbanks had to be at the top of the best-case scenarios he could have drawn up.

A Star Is Born

Not many people had heard of the name Randy Arozarena before September 1 of this year. They can say that no more. He has grabbed claim to nearly every rookie hitting record, and he still has at least four games remaining. His seventh playoff home run passed former Ray great Evan Longoria’s six back in 2008. It was his fourth home run of the seven-game ALCS series.

He is making a very difficult game look easy. The best part is, he knows it. He has the confidence that he can do anything, and right now, he is doing exactly that. His hands are even faster than his legs, which poses a nightmare for opposing pitchers. The only thing that can make him scarier is if the Rays get the production around him to pick up. The winner of the NLCS is surely taking notes on how to carefully approach this young superstar.

Morton’s Magic

The story may have been Arozarena and Cash’s bold call, but let’s not take away from how good Charlie Morton was on Saturday night. The veteran right-hander came in as a Game Seven warrior. As the winning pitcher, he now has four Game Seven victories. That is twice as many as any other pitcher in Major League History.

Morton was simply phenomenal. His fastball command has always been the difference-maker, and it was the sharpest it’s been all year. The fastball then sets up one of the best breaking balls in the game. He knew he would need both weapons to slow down the Astros lineup, and he surely had them both. Morton finished with a line of 5 2/3, allowing just two singles while striking out six. It was exactly the kind of start Cash needed in front of the best bullpen in baseball.

Up Next

With the Dodgers and Braves series going the distance, the Rays will have the benefit of an extra day of rest. Something the Rays rotation and bullpen desperately needs.

Game One of the World Series is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20, at 8:09 Eastern. It is also back to a more comfortable schedule with off days being between Games Two and Three, and the potential Five and Six.

Cash isn’t expected to name his Game One Starter any time soon, but it’s safe to assume Tyler Glasnow will get the ball in Game One. Blake Snell and Charlie Morton would figure to line up nicely for Game Two and Three.

 

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