Following conclusion of the Wild Card round, MLB Division Series action got started on Thursday afternoon with the American League matchup between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros, followed by the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The matchups were disappointingly one-sided as the home teams cruised to victory with strong starting pitching backed by offensive firepower.
Astros lead 1-0
McCullers Jr. won the battle of the Lances with 6.2 scoreless innings to Lynn’s five runs on six hits in 3.2 innings of work. Yordan Álvarez went 2-3 with two runs scored, two RBI and one solo home run.
This marks the second time Lynn was rocked at Minute Maid Park in 2021. He previously allowed six runs on eight hits over four innings in the 7-3 Sox loss on June 19th. Lynn does not have a stellar track record against Houston, so I find the decision to use him in Game 1 over Lucas Giolito puzzling, especially since this means he will potentially have the opportunity to face the Astros a second time in an extended series.
Hahn said the Sox are choosing between Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito for Game 1 starter. One consideration is who would be better suited to pitch a second time in the series.
“They're interchangeable, really”
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) October 4, 2021
Rays lead 1-0
Rodríguez, who missed the 2020 season after suffering serious effects from a COVID-19 infection, made his first postseason start for Boston since the 2018 World Series. He exited after allowing two runs in 1.2 innings.
The Rays were powered by their youth movement.
Tonight @RaysBaseball became the first team in MLB postseason history to have two rookies notch an extra-base hit (Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena) and another rookie toss a scoreless start (Shane McClanahan) in the same game.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) October 8, 2021
Randy Arozarena is looking to finish business and capture a ring after his historic postseason run in 2020. The 2020 American League Championship Series MVP hit a moonshot home run in the 5th inning and stole home with two outs in the 7th.
Veteran Nelson Cruz hit Tampa’s other home run in the game with a 3rd inning drive off the Tropicana Field catwalk.
Friday night will feature a full slate of Division Series games as the National League series open. Play will begin at Minute Maid Park in Houston with Game 2 between Chicago and Houston at 2:07 PM ET, followed by Game 1 at American Family Field between the Atlanta franchise and the Milwaukee Brewers at 4:37 PM ET. The second game of the Red Sox-Rays series will begin at 7:02 PM ET, and the nightcap will be the grudge match between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants at 9:37 PM ET.
Featured Image: Aerial wide angle image of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA on February 15, 2018 by Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com.