HOUSTON – The roles are reversed in 2020 with the Tampa Bay Rays coming into the MLB playoffs with the best record in the American League. Tampa Bay’s 2-1 win to start the series showed off the Rays' strengths - mainly, their dominant bullpen.
Here are three reasons the Astros couldn’t get the win in Game 1.
“LOB” ONE IN
Neither team did a great job of capitalizing with runners on base, but the Astros left 10, which is a lot. On top of that, the Astros got George Springer picked off in the third inning. The Astros got two in on the fourth before a double play nearly erased the inning, only for the Astros to load the bases but end up getting no runs.
The Astros again had two runners on in the 6th inning, but weren’t able to drive in a run. In the 8th, the Astros again got two on, before Yuli Gurriel hit into an inning-ending double play. The Astros had their chances, they just need to take advantage of them.
DON’T MISS TO AROZARENA
Rookie Randy Arozarena had less than 100 major league at bats heading into the playoffs and has been scorching the cover off the ball. Arozarena entered the ALCS hitting .444, and did damage on a missed 1-2 sinker.
Arozarena had four straight multi-hit games, with three of them coming in the ALDS against the Yankees.
The rookie has been the Rays best hitter in the playoffs.
NO LEADOFF WALKS
The Rays are one of the best smallball teams in baseball and do a great job of moving runners, which they did in the 5th inning when Mike Zunino singled in the winning run. Valdez led off the 5th by walking Willy Adames, who then got to third with two groundouts and home on the clutch hit by Zunino.
The Rays got the leadoff man on in four of eight innings, and the Astros were lucky to hold the Rays to just 1 run in those situations. Leadoff hits happen, but leadoff walks can definitely be avoidable.