10/08/2021 at 7:52 AM CEST
Starter Lance McCullers Jr. pitched just over six innings without allowing a touchdown, Cuban designated hitter Yordan Álvarez homered and the Astros beat this Thursday 6-1 a the White Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. McCullers Jr. (1-0) worked 6 2/3 innings with four hits and fanned four batters for the win. Three other relievers took the last seven ‘outs’ of the game and ensured the triumph of the Astros, who take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The second game will be played this Friday on the same stage at Houston’s Minute Maid Park with Framber Valdez as the Astros’ starter, while the White Sox will present the star Lucas Giolito.
Álvarez was back on fire and led the Astros’ timely and productive offense by going 3-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while Venezuelan second baseman José Altuve was also on time with his bat by going 4-1 and pair of annotations that helped the victory of the Astros, which was always superior to those of Chicago.
The game was the first playoff game in Major League history in which both teams were led by the two most experienced managers in the tournament and in their 70s. Dusty Baker, 72, was in the cave with the Astros, while Tony La Russa, 77, led the White Sox.
The loss went to starter Lance Lynn (0-1) who only stayed three and two-thirds innings on the mound with six allowed hits and five earned runs, walked two and fanned four opposing batters after hitting 76. pitches and placing 46 in the strike zone.
The Rays leave the Red Sox at zero
Cuban left fielder Randy Arozarena became the first player to hit a home run and steal home in a postseason game, leading Thursday to the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in his first game of the American League Division Series. Rising star from October last year, Arozarena, made an impressive run to the plate in the seventh inning for the first consecutive postseason steal from home since Jackie Robinson did it with the Brooklyn Dodgers against Yogi Berra and the Yankees in the 1955 World Series. “I realized the pitcher was not paying attention to me. I was able to take a big enough lead and get to that base,” Arozarena declared through a translator. “That’s the first time I get it.”
Dominican designated hitter Nelson Cruz also homered and rookie starter Shane McClanahan pitched five stellar innings for the American League East champs Rays.
Game two of the best-of-five series is Friday, with Chris Sale scheduled to start for Boston against rookie Shane Baz who will be for the Rays. Rookie Dominican shortstop Wander Franco also shone in his playoff debut, with an early RBI double that sent the speedy Arozarena home from first base for the defending American League champions to get off to a quick start. Arozarena, 26, still a rookie despite setting postseason records with 10 home runs and 29 hits in 20 games a year ago, capped off another thrilling performance by stealing home from Boston reliever Josh Taylor to make it 5- 0 in the seventh. It was the first home robbery in a playoff game since Puerto Rican shortstop Javier Báez of the Cubs did it as part of a double steal against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 2016 National League Championship Series.
If it weren’t for the flashy and enjoyable game by Arozarena and the hitting of 20-year-old Franco, who was promoted to the majors in June, then McClanahan’s pitching might well have been the story of the night. The 24-year-old left-hander, who made his major league debut during Tampa Bay’s run to the World Series last year, scattered five hits and struck out three in his first career playoff start.
Cruz, acquired in July to add a powerful bat to the middle of the lineup, hit his 18th career home run in the postseason for a 3-0 lead in the third. Arozarena also went deep against right-hander Nick Pivetta with an empty bases in the fifth for his 11th home run in 21 career postseason games. The Dominican hit a home run on one of the roof-supporting catwalks at Tropicana Field, eliciting another thunderous applause from a crowd of 27,419 people waving a yellow towel. The audience included college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a Rays season ticket holder who threw the ceremonial first.
With one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and a roster with no household names, the Rays are in the playoffs for the third year in a row after winning 100 games, a franchise record and their second straight AL East title.
Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez took the loss, allowing two runs, two hits and walking two in 1 2/3 innings. Pivetta saved Puerto Rican manager Alex Cora from having to waste the bullpen by working 4 2/3 innings of relief. Franco chased after Pivetta with his second double of the night, an opposite field hit to the left that sent Arozarena running from first to third base in the seventh. Four pitches later, Arozarena took advantage of the fact that Taylor was not paying attention to him and went to the plate.
The victory extended Tampa Bay’s recent dominance over the Red Sox. The Rays lost four straight games to Boston before winning 11 of their last 15 meetings during the regular season. And they wasted no time hopping on Rodriguez this time, using his speed to convert an opening walk to Arozarena, Franco’s double between left and center field and Cuban Yandy Díaz’s two-out single in the infield for a quick lead of 2-0.
Franco and Cruz are the two biggest additions to the Tampa Bay offense this year, which ranked second in the majors with 857 runs. With the 20-year-old shortstop and 41-year-old slugger in the lineup, the Rays scored 263 runs in 43 games. The duo became the second group of teammates to have one hit each in a postseason game when one player was 20 or younger and the other was at least 40. They were joined by Manny Machado and Jim Thome, who did. in 2012 for the Baltimore Orioles. Cruz, meanwhile, became the second-oldest player to hit home runs in the postseason after compatriot Julio Franco, 43, in 2001.