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Arozarena homers again, Rays beat Astros 2-1 in ALCS opener

BASEBALL NEWS:
Arozarena homers once again, Rays beat Astros 2-1 in ALCS opener

SAN DIEGO (AP) – Tampa Bay reducer Diego Castillo played catch Sunday afternoon, less than two days after tossing 29 pitches in 2 innings, and informed supervisor Kevin Money he was great to opt for the opener of the AL Champion Series versus Houston.

Was he ever.

“It’s always good news when you get thumbs up,” Money stated after Castillo left an acquired bases-loaded circumstance with one pitch and completed the five-out conserve to assist the Rays beat the Astros 2-1 Sunday night.

Randy Arozarena homered once again at Petco Park, Mike Zunino drove in the consent run and Blake Snell calmed down for the win after enabling José Altuve’s homer in the very first inning.

The play of the video game, however, was when Castillo began with one out in the 8th and tossed one pitch, getting Yuli Gurriel to ground into a double play. Aaron Loup had actually filled the bases on a hit batter, walk and single.

Castillo had actually tossed 29 pitches Friday night in the 2-1 win versus the New york city Yankees that clinched the AL Department Series. Money didn’t understand till Sunday afternoon if the big 26-year-old would be OKAY to pitch that night.

“I was going to be ready,” Castillo stated through a translator. “I knew with the day off yesterday, I came to the stadium prepared. I just came ready to pitch.”

Tampa has actually leaned on its bullpen all season.

“I think the job he did sums up his whole year,” stated Zunino, the catcher. “He stepped up big for us. He’s been throwing a lot in big situations for us. We had an idea who we might be able to go to, but him coming in there showing what he’s made out of says a lot about what those guys in the bullpen have done for us all year.”

Money called it “Just a remarkable performance. We really benefited with the double play ball on one pitch. … I’m just so appreciative of his effort the way he’s able to bounce back and make these filthy pitches to unbelievable hitters.”

Money has a bullpen loaded with men who desire the ball.

“It’s impressive. That’s what you want as a staff,” Money stated. “We’re going to keep hoping they want it.”

Gurriel dropped to 2 for 25 (.080) with one RBI this postseason.

“Everybody in the dugout knew he was going to get at least a sacrifice fly or a base hit,” supervisor Dusty Baker stated. “It’s driving him crazy because he’s not used to struggling like this. We’ve just got to keep believing in Yuli.”

Video Game 2 is Monday afternoon when the Rays rely on 36-year-old Charlie Morton, who got the win for Houston in Game 7 when it won the 2017 World Series. Houston counters with Lance McCullers Jr., who started that Game 7 for the Astros.

Houston, which got into the playoffs with a 29-31 record, is in the ALCS for the fourth straight season and is trying to advance to the World Series for the third time in that span.

The Astros are villains in many people’s eyes for their sign-stealing scandal three years ago, when they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. They also remain unapologetic.

Tampa Bay is trying to reach its second World Series after losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons over there where they can mix and match, and we tried to keep the right-handed side of their lineup in there tonight, which we did,” Baker said. “Everything went according to plan tonight, other than winning the game.”

Zunino singled past diving shortstop Carlos Correa to bring in Willy Adames with the go-ahead run with two outs in the fifth off lefty Framber Valdéz. Adames reached on a leadoff walk and advanced on consecutive ground outs to Valdéz.

Arozarena continued his breakout postseason with his fourth homer in six games, sending a 1-2 pitch from Valdez to center field with one out in the fourth to tie it at 1. He homered in each of the first three games of the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees, also in San Diego.

Nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” Arozarena defected to Mexico in 2015 and signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016. He made his big league debut last year and was traded to the Rays in the offseason.

He tested positive for COVID-19 during intake testing prior to summer camp and didn’t make his 2020 season debut until Aug. 30.

The only Rays with more homers in a postseason are Melvin Upton Jr. with seven and Evan Longoria six, both in 2008.

Altuve homered in his third straight game, driving a 2-1 pitch from Snell to left with one out in the first.

Snell allowed one run and six hits in five innings, struck out two and walked two.

“They have a great team, great pitching staff and they made the pitches when they need to,” Houston’s Alex Bregman said. “Looking forward to playing more baseball. This is fun. I love playing at this ballpark. It’s fun. Weather is amazing. Just felt good to be out there. Really fun to play baseball today.”

UP NEXT

Astros: McCullers allowed four earned runs and eight hits in four innings of Houston’s 10-5 victory against Oakland in the opener of the ALDS.

Rays: Morton got the decision in the Rays’ 8-4 win against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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