Rays can’t close out Houston in ALCS

by Gary Shelton on October 15, 2020

in general

Adames hit a run-scoring double in the ninth./STEVEN MUNCIE

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Suddenly, he was young again. Suddenly, his team had life again.

And just like that, Zack Greinke gave one last breath of life to the Houston Astros.

It was in the sixth inning, and Houston was in trouble. The Tampa Bay Rays, who have played from behind often this season, were trailing 4-2, but they had loaded the bases on three hits.

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Greinke, who's soft-toss had kept the Rays at bat for most of the game, got a visit from manager Dusty Baker, who had closer Ryan Pressly ready to go. But Baker chose to stick with the 36-year-old Greinke, who hadn't won a playoff game since 2015.

And it worked. Greinke, a former Cy Young Award winner, struck out Randy Arozarena -- the Rays' hottest hitter -- on a contested checked swing. He then struck out Mike Brousseau -- hero of the ALDS -- on a full-pitch changeup in the dirt.

The victory kept the Astros alive in the ALCS, although they still trail three games to one.

In favor of the Rays? They got through the game without using any of their top trio of relievers in Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo or Pete Fairbanks. They haven't lost two games in a row often. And, hey, they lost by one run.

Against the Rays? Tampa Bay continues to struggle to hit the baseball, especially Brandon Lowe, who is hitting .071 in the post-season.

"We’ve got get the bats going," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "No doubt about it. We’ve been carried by our pitching and defense. That’s how we’re built, but it would be nice to get the bats going and move the line a little bit. It’s not coming easy for anybody with the exception of a couple of guys. We’re got guys in the lineup who are scuffling a little bit."

Although the Astros are still down 3-1, series baseball can be a matter of momentum. Neither team has announced a starter for today, which raises the possibility of a bullpen day. If the Astros win, they would be within two games of winning the series.

Certainly, they have enough ability for it. Jose Altuve started another game with a first-inning homer, and he later added a run-scoring double. George Springer had a two-run homer.

Arozarena had a two-run homer for the Rays, but afterward, he was still annoyed by the called strike on the checked swing.

Personally, I don't think I went on that swing," Arozarana said through an interpreter. "We’re all human beings, and I think the umpire made a mistake on that call. “

The Rays' starting pitcher has had a tendency to give up the long ball this season. Tyler Glasnow went six innings for the Rays, but he gave up both Astros' homers.

"I think it’s matter of falling behind, and everyone knows the heater’s coming," Glasnow said. "Today, the off-speed stuff was not there at all. I just wasn't able to throw it for strikes. Especially when I got behind in the count. The pitch to Springer was up , 99 or so. I think it’s a matter of getting ahead."

The Rays have another chance to close out Houston in today's 5:07 p.m. game in San Diego.

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