The Tampa Bay Rays survived a couple late scares to win Game 1 of the American League Championship Series 2-1 over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
The Rays will look to take an imposing 2-0 lead in the series on Monday. Tampa Bay enters Game 2 as a -132 favorite over Houston (+112), according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Castillo Secures Five-Out Save
The Astros jumped out to an early lead when Jose Altuve hit a first inning home run off of a seemingly shaky Blake Snell. But Snell was able to settle down, scattering six hits over five innings to hold Houston to only that one run.
Tampa Bay postseason hero Randy Arozarena evened the score with a home run of his own in the fourth inning. The Rays then manufactured a run in the fifth, as catcher Mike Zunino singled home Willy Adames to give Tampa Bay the lead.
|Astros vs. Rays Odds – ALCS Game 2 (via DraftKings Sportsbook)|
|Astros (McCullers): +108||Rays (Morton): -125|
|Astros (+1.5): -195||Rays (-1.5): +163|
|Over 8.5: -107||Under 8.5: -113|
|Astros: +275||Rays: -360|
From there, the Tampa Bay bullpen took over. John Curtiss, Ryan Thompson, Aaron Loup and Diego Castillo combined to close out the game, holding the Astros scoreless.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t scary moments. Loup loaded the bases with just one out in the eighth inning. But Castillo induced a double play ball from Yuli Gurriel to end the threat. Castillo would go on to post a five-out save to secure the win.
“This is incredible. It’s a dream come true,” Castillo said via a translator after the game. “I’ve always wanted to do this, and thankfully the team has been giving me this opportunity, and I feel really happy that I’ve been able to come through.”
The Rays are now 16-5 in one-run games this season, including the playoffs.
“Our analytical guys might think they’re lucky or fluky, but, no, I don’t think that,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told reporters of that impressive mark.
Astros Turn to McCullers for Game 2 Start
Houston will try to rebound in Game 2 behind Lance McCullers Jr., who has made just one appearance so far in the 2020 postseason. He gave up four earned runs in four innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, but will try to put in more work for his team on Monday. McCullers says its important for the team’s starters to pitch quality innings, given that there are no rest days during the ALCS.
“We’re hoping to throw the ball well and allow our bullpen to not have to overextend themselves,” McCullers told reporters. “You know, seven games in a row, we do it all the time during the season, but never at this type of intensity.”
Charlie Morton will take the mound for Tampa Bay. He went five innings and allowed just one run in a win over the Yankees during the ALDS. The 37-year-old Morton comes into the game knowing it could be his last professional start, though he’s still hoping to return to the game next year.
“If a team like that wants me back next year I’d be completely honored and privileged to continue to play,” Morton said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “I just don’t know what teams are even going to be interested in me.”
DraftKings lists the Rays as a -360 favorite to win the ALCS, with the Astros posted at +275.