MLB

Three takeaways from Rays' rout of Astros in ALDS Game 3

By Sports Desk October 07, 2019

In a match-up of crafty 35-year-old pitchers who are no strangers to the postseason stage, Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay Rays outpitched Zack Greinke and the Houston Astros on Monday, winning 10-3 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series to stay alive.

In their first home playoff game since 2013, the Rays thrilled a rare large, loud crowd by driving Greinke from the game in the fourth inning on their way to a rout of the AL's top seed.

Game 4 will be played on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

Three takeaways from Rays' season-saving Game 3 win Greinke goes south

The Astros had every reason to believe Greinke would follow the dominant path carved by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole as he made his first postseason start for Houston on Monday.

The veteran's last regular-season start was his most effective this season, as he allowed just three baserunners and struck out nine in 8 1/3 shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners.

And the Rays' offense had been non-existent in the first two games of the series, hitting a combined .177 and failing to score off Verlander and Cole in their 14 2/3 total innings of work. 

But the Rays obviously found Greinke's array of softer stuff a relief after watching fastballs from the co-Cy Young favourites zip by them in Games 1 and 2. The three home runs Tampa Bay hit off Greinke came on a changeup, a changeup and a curveball — each of them traveling less than 80mph.

Those homers accounted for the first five of the seven runs charged to Greinke in an outing that bore eerie similarities to his poor season-opening start. Pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 28, Greinke also allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, surrendering four homers in the process. No one could have expected what might now end up being his final start of the 2019 season to match his first, but the veteran had no answers for a suddenly resurgent Rays offense on Monday. 

Morton proves his worth again

In his second win-or-go-home start of the postseason for the Rays, Morton once again put his team in a position to stay in contention.

After a rough first inning that saw him throw 31 pitches and surrender Jose Altuve's 10th career postseason home run, Morton eventually settled into a groove and kept the Astros' dangerous line-up at bay, holding them scoreless for the rest of his five-inning stint.

While Morton had better stuff on Monday, striking out nine, the outing largely mirrored his effort in the wildcard game at Oakland last week. He surrendered one unearned run in five innings of that one before handing a 5-1 lead over to the Rays' bullpen. Though Tampa Bay's relievers were not airtight in this one as they were against the A's, the offense kept adding on to keep them alive. 

Given the Rays must win the next two games to keep their season alive, this could well end up being Morton's final start of his first season in Tampa Bay. If so, he proved a bargain for the $15million the Rays paid him, serving as the anchor of a rotation strained by injuries and providing two season-saving starts when they needed him the most. 

Reminder: The Trop can be fun

Ridiculed just about as often as the fanbase that leaves it mostly empty throughout the season, Tropicana Field served up a reminder that it can in fact provide a home-field advantage. All people have to do is show up. 

After playing in front of an average crowd of 14,734 during the regular season, the Rays had to be delighted to have 32,251 on hand for the Game 3 matinee. And from the moment Kevin Kiermaier rocked Greinke with that second-inning homer, those fans kept the place roaring with every big hit by the home team. 

Though Tampa Bay has continued to enjoy strong local TV ratings even as attendance has sagged, it is rare that fans around the country get to see — and hear — how raucous it can get under the roof in St. Petersburg. 

Now we will see if they can do it again on Tuesday for Game 4.

Related items

  • Gettin' Jiggy Wit It – Braves sign Will Smith Gettin' Jiggy Wit It – Braves sign Will Smith

    The Atlanta Braves have bolstered their bullpen with the signing of MLB All-Star closer Will Smith.

    Not to be mistaken with his namesake and the famous American actor, Smith signed a three-year deal worth $40million on Thursday.

    Smith's deal with the Braves also includes a $13m club option ($1m buyout) for 2023.

    The 30-year-old pitcher – who started his career with the Kansas City Royals in 2012 before joining the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014 – arrives from the San Francisco Giants, where he converted 34 of his 38 save opportunities in 2019.

    Smith also earned his first All-Star selection, having posted a 2.76 ERA over 63 appearances and limited opponents to a .196 batting average.

  • Trout wins third AL MVP, Bellinger takes NL prize Trout wins third AL MVP, Bellinger takes NL prize

    Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout won his third American League (AL) MVP award, while the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger was crowned the National League (NL) winner.

    Trout, 28, added to his wins in 2014 and 2016 after enjoying another fine MLB season with the Angels.

    The outfielder – an eight-time All-Star – finished 2019 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs and a .291 batting average.

    Only MLB great Barry Bonds (seven) has won more than three MVP awards.

    Los Angeles owned the 2019 MVPs, with Dodgers star Bellinger winning the NL prize.

    Bellinger – who already won the 2019 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards to complete the trifecta – hit 47 home runs and 115 RBIs during the season, batting at an impressive .305.

    "It's absolutely incredible," said the 24-year-old via MLB Network. "It's really cool that my family and friends are here. I'm a little emotional. It's really cool. It's what you dream of, man, for sure."

    Despite Trout's heroics, the Angels missed the playoffs, while the Dodgers were eliminated in the NL Division Series.

  • Mets ace DeGrom & Astros' Verlander scoop Cy Young Award honours Mets ace DeGrom & Astros' Verlander scoop Cy Young Award honours

    New York Mets star Jacob deGrom secured back-to-back National League Cy Young Award honours, while Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander was also recognised again in the American League.

    MLB's biggest pitching prize was announced on Wednesday, with DeGrom topping the votes in the NL and Verlander in the AL midweek.

    DeGrom became the 11th pitcher to secure successive Cy Young Awards after appearing at the top of all but one of the 30 ballots this year.

    "Words can't express it," DeGrom said. "I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back to back, honestly, I'm kind of speechless right now."

    A three-time All-Star, DeGrom had a 1.89 ERA and .538 opponents' OPS in his final 23 starts, covering 152 innings, as the Mets missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

    DeGrom led the NL in strikeouts (255) and ranked second in ERA (2.43) after the Mets posted a 77-85 win-loss record in 2019.

    As for Houston's Verlander, the eight-time All-Star finally added to his 2011 AL Cy Young Award.

    Verlander produced one of his best seasons as the Astros reached the World Series before falling to the Washington Nationals – leading the league in wins (21), innings (223), batting average against (.172) and WHIP (0.80).

    The 36-year-old finished ahead of Astros team-mate Gerrit Cole, who has been linked with a move away from Houston.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.