Playoff Recap – Sunday, 10/11

Once again, the Rays' bullpen flashes its strength and depth.

We’re down to just two teams in the American League, and the cream of the crop was on display in San Diego last night as the “visiting” Astros took on the “home team” Rays in the Orange Juice Invitational. For Houston, manager Dusty Baker sent Framber Valdez to the mound while Kevin Cash and the Rays called upon Blake Snell to start Game 1. Both starters were quite effective, and the Rays’ relief corps were able to work their way out of trouble and outlasted the Astros’ bats. Oh, and if you can believe it – Randy Arozarena added another line to his postseason resume with a game-tying home run.


Rays 2, Astros 1


Blake Snell last pitched on October 5th in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees. Squaring off with Gerrit Cole, Snell was unable to contain the Yankee bats, giving up four runs on six hits in five innings pitched. He did warm up for a possible relief appearance on Friday but did not enter the game. Against Houston, he was much more effective. Snell threw 105 pitches across five innings, giving up six hits and one run while allowing two free passes and recording two strikeouts. The one run came early when José Altuve deposited the 10th pitch of the game into the left-field seats:

After a Michael Brantley single following the homer, things weren’t looking too rosy for Tampa. But it was mostly smooth sailing from then on for Snell, as he sat down the next six Houston batters and finished his evening with a 1-2-3 inning against the top of the order in Springer, Altuve, and Brantley.


As for Valdez, his night was the inverse of Snell’s. Starting off the night strong, the 26-year-old struck out the side in the bottom of the first on just 11 pitches and then worked his way around a second-inning leadoff walk by striking out Hunter Renfroe and getting Willy Adames to ground into a double play. The wheels started to come off a bit in the fourth, when Tampa outfielder and postseason folk hero Randy Arozarena tied the game with a solo homer to right-center:

Make that four home runs in eight 2020 postseason games for Arozarena, who now sports a .419/.471/.935 playoff batting line for this year. When Valdez came back out for the fifth, he allowed a crucial five-pitch walk to Willy Adames. Two consecutive groundouts moved Adames to third and brought catcher Mike Zunino to the plate, who attacked a first-pitch sinker for a single up the middle:

With a 2-1 lead in hand, the Rays handed the game off to the bullpen who only allowed two hits and two walks across the next four scoreless innings. John Curtiss, Ryan Thompson, Aaron Loup, and Diego Castillo pitched in succession to finish up the game, and Castillo’s 1.2 innings were the star of the show.

Back in the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS against the New York Yankees on Friday, Castillo threw 29 pitches across the final two innings, including putting away the dangerous trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, and Gio Urshela in the ninth.  His heroics were back on display on Sunday, entering the game with the bases loaded in the eighth and promptly induced an inning-ended double play off the bat of Yuli Gurriel. Coming back out for the save in the ninth, Castillo worked around a one-out single from Josh Reddick before retiring Springer and Altuve to seal Game 1 for the Rays. Castillo is one of 12 Tampa relievers to record a save this season, a true testament to the depth of Kevin Cash’s “stable” in 2020.

However, this series is far from over. The grueling no off-days schedule picks right back up today, as the two teams face off again on Monday in ALCS Game 2 at 4:00 p.m EST.


Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire | Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Liam Casey

Liam is a lifelong Yankee fan currently residing in Long Island, NY with his fiancee and their 2 dogs.

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