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Rays Edge Astros in ALCS Opener

Mini collectable Rays helmet

The league championship (semifinal) round of the MLB playoffs kicked off on Sunday night with Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays. The first pitch came right around the same time as tipoff of the potential title clinching Game 6 of the NBA Finals in unusual circumstances prompted by the delay of the NBA season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tampa is one of the smallest markets in Major League Baseball, but Rays pitcher Colin Poche noted that team members expected to receive widespread support for some reason.

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Rays 2, Astros 1

W: Blake Snell; L: Framber Valdéz; S: Diego Castillo

Rays starter Snell ground through five innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits in a 105 pitch outing with two walks and two strikeouts. His counterpart Valdéz had a quality start for the Astros, allowing two runs on four hits in 6.0 IP with four walks and eight strikeouts. However, he was outmatched by Snell and the Tampa 98ers relievers, who did not allow any more Astros runs following Snell’s exit.

After Snell served up a solo shot to José Altuve in the 1st, Rays postseason hero Randy Arozarena tied the game with his own dinger off Valdéz in the 4th inning. In the 5th, Mike Zunino drove a single into center field to give the Rays a one-run advantage.

The Astros were unable to cash in on subsequent scoring threats against the Rays pen. Castillo entered the game with bases loaded in the 8th inning and extricated the Rays from the jam with a timely double play ball on his first pitch to Yuli Gurriel. In the 9th inning, Castillo struck out Altuve with the tying run at 1st base to close out a Game 1 victory.

Game 2 will begin at 4:07 PM ET today. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93 ERA) will face 2017 World Series championship* teammate Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.74 ERA) in the opener of a two-game broadcast slate. Today’s second game, National League Championship Series Game 1 between Atlanta and the Los Angeles Dodgers, will begin at 8:08 PM ET. Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA) is set to take the mound against Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44 ERA).

Featured Image: Mini collectable Rays helmet by LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com.

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