The American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays began on Sunday, Oct. 11 and the Rays struck first. In a tightly contested game, the Rays used their brilliant pitching staff to hold the Astros to only one run in a 2-1 Game 1 victory.
Rays ace Blake Snell got off to a shaky start, allowing a solo home run to Jose Altuve in the first inning. From there, he battled through five innings to keep the game close. Randy Arazorena of the Rays matched Altuve with a solo home run of his own off of Houston starter Framber Valdez to tie the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning. Then in the fifth, Mike Zunino brought home the eventual winning run off an RBI double. Tampa Bay’s bullpen held on to the 2-1 lead and relieved the Game 1 victory.
Right now no one can hit the Rays. They’ve gone up against two juggernaut offenses in a row in the Yankees and Astros and held them to one run each in the past two games. They currently lead the postseason in strikeouts by a massive margin with 81. Meanwhile, rookie Arazorena continues to add to his legend. After a Game 1 homer, “the Cuban Mookie Betts” is now hitting .419 in the playoffs with four home runs in nine games. Watch out for Tampa Bay.
If the Astros want to prove to the world that they’re actually good enough to win a World Series, they’ll have to hit their way through the postseason. They lost Gerrit Cole in free agency, they lost Justin Verlander to injury, and now they might be down Zack Greinke as well. That’s three ace-caliber pitchers out of the Houston rotation since a year ago when they won the AL. The bats will have to step up. Luckily for them, the Astros lead the playoffs with 73 hits and a team batting average of .282. This team can still mash.
Game 2 was played Monday, Oct. 12 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Charlie Morton made the start for the Rays against Lance McCullers Jr. of the Astros.