It seemed that the MLB putting the season on hold in March due to the global pandemic had little impact on rookie Randy Arozarena, who once again was instrumental in helping the Rays winning Game 7 against the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
The win was all they needed to wrap up the AL Championship Series and head to the 2020 World Series. The Rays will head to Arlington, Texas to face with the L.A Dodgers and Atlanta Braves depending on the outcome of Game 7 in the NL Championship Series.
Tampa Bay hasn’t appeared in the World Series since 2008 when they lost to the Phillies in five games. This season, however, the Rays dominated the American League as a result of superior pitching and a strong defence.
After putting an end to a three game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Rays rallied back to overcome the Astros to become the only team in the major leagues to overcome a three game deficit in a best of seven series.
The loss for the Houston Astros was its first chance for glory since being the focus on a sign-stealing scandal last season. Seen by many as the bad guys for their role in the controversy, they were unable to stop the constant pressure the Rays applied after winning Game 4.
Randy Arozarena was a relative unknown in his rookie season, but after scoring his seventh home run in the playoffs and racking up 21 hits, he now sits only one shy of matching the record set by Derek Jeter in his rookie season. Now known as “The Cuban Rocket”, Arozarena at age 25 is set to smash Jeter’s post-season rookie season as Tampa heads to the finals.
In 2015, the star rookie defected to Mexico from Cuba, and a year later, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and debuted in the big leagues the following year. After being traded to Tampa during the off-season and testing positive for the coronavirus, he didn’t start playing this season until the end of August. By October, it was clear Arozarena possessed the goods needed to make an impact.
What is clear is that the investment Tampa took during the post-season to bring in some stability has paid off. The passion and relentless drive have been crucial in overcoming the three game deficit. Their performance wasn’t missed, and Arozarena has been a big part of that even after posting a rant video on social media that seen negatively.
The reality was, the Astros seem to lose fizzle after Tampa tied the series, and it didn’t help that Charlie Morton was able to keep them at bay only allowing two hits while retiring fourteen at bat back-to-back. It wasn’t until two-out infield single that manager Kevin Cash replaced Morton with Nick Anderson.
Morton set a league record as the only pitcher to earn four victories in four winner take all games. Those games included Game 7 in the 2017 World Series and Game 7 in the ALCS. After signing with the Rays as a free agent, his tenor was crucial in their defeat of the Astros.
It wasn’t until the 8th that Houston was able to get on the scorecard after a two run single by Carlos Correa. Unfortunately, it was too little too late as soon after, was struck out by a 100 mph fastball from closer Alex Bregman.
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Game 1 of the 2020 World Series is scheduled for the 20th of October. Punters hoping Tampa will be able to carry the momentum against the Dodgers or Braves into the final best of seven series will have to wait until then.