MLB: Rays headed to World Series

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ALCS Game 7 Recap:

Tampa Bay Rays Randy Arozarena reacts after striking out during the fifth inning in Game 7 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

What was once a 3-0 series lead for the Tampa Bay Rays over the Houston Astros became a 3-3 tie in the American League Championship Series. Game 7 was played on Saturday, Oct. 17 and the Rays were finally able to close out the 4-3 series victory over the Astros. They will advance to the World Series for the first time since 2008.  

Despite losing three games in a row, the Rays got out to a fast start in Game 7. A two-run homer off the bat of Randy Arozarena (of course) and a solo shot from catcher Mike Zunino gave the Rays all the run support they’d need to win a massive Game 7. Rays veteran Charlie Morton held his ground on the other side, allowing no runs in five and two thirds innings while striking out six batters. Carlos Correa drove in two runs in the eighth inning to give Tampa Bay a scare, but ultimately the Rays closed the game out 4-2.  

Arozarena was named ALCS MVP, and deservedly so. The 25-year-old is now hitting .382 in the playoffs with 10 RBI’s and seven home runs, four of which came in the ALCS. Meanwhile, Morton improved to 4-0 in his career in elimination-games and 3-0 in this postseason with an earned-run-average of 0.57 thus far. In a close series, Arozarena and Morton were the difference.  

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton throws against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in Game 7 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Considering all the talk surrounding the team, the Houston Astros had a very respectable 2020 season. After losing Gerrit Cole to free agency, they lost Justin Verlander and Roberto Osuna to injuries; no one would’ve blamed them if they punted on the season. Yet, there they were in the ALCS for the fourth straight season. Correa in particular performed admirably in the postseason, hitting .362 with six homers and 17 RBI’s, which is currently the most of anyone in the playoffs. Try as they might, now no one can tell the Astros that they don’t have championship-level talent.  

The Rays will move on to face the winner of the Dodgers-Braves series. Game 1 of the World Series will be played on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 8:09 p.m. Eastern.  

NLCS Game 6 Recap:  

Atlanta Braves center fielder Cristian Pache catches a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger during the eighth inning in Game 6 of a baseball National League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves was on Saturday, Oct. 17 and the Dodgers hung on to force a Game 7. After being up 3-1 in the series, the Braves now find themselves in a winner-moves-on game against a red hot Dodgers team.  

Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Justin Turner all knocked in first-inning runs off of Braves-starter Max Fried to set the tone for the game. From there, the two teams engaged in an all-out pitching battle. After a shaky first inning, Fried turned in a solid performance, allowing three runs over six and two thirds innings, but he was outdone by Dodgers ace Walker Buehler. Buehler tossed six shutout innings to hand his bullpen a comfortable 3-0 lead that they would not relinquish. The Dodgers won 3-1 to force a Game 7.  

Buehler was the story of Game 6. Though he allowed seven hits in six innings, no one crossed the plate while he struck out six batters. Offensively, the Dodgers also turned in a typically balanced performance. Even 2019 MVP Bellinger, who has struggled all season long, had a good game with an RBI single, a walk and zero strikeouts. LA is hoping that Bellinger’s Game 6 performance will carry over into Game 7.  

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning in Game 6 of a baseball National League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

There’s no need for the Braves to panic. They’re playing a good series against a good team. They do, however, need to do a better job of controlling the strike zone. Though both teams collected nine hits, the Braves struck out three more times than the Dodgers while walking zero times compared to LA’s five. Most notable for the Braves right now is that Ronald Acuna Jr. is hitting only .190 in the series. He could be the key to unlocking this lineup’s full potential in Game 7.  

Game 7 will be played on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 8:15 p.m. Eastern. The Braves will begin the game with Ian Anderson on the mound while the Dodgers have not yet announced their starter.  

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