Last night, it was the Tampa Bay Rays and Michael Brosseau who left Petco Park with an emotional victory. The top seed in the American League finished off the Yankees in win or go home with a 2-1 final, beating Gerrit Cole on short rest.
Last year, it was Gerrit Cole who beat the Rays in win or go home as Eric Sogard was the only player to cross home plate after ambushing a heater early on. Gerrit Cole played for the Houston Astros, a team that would lose in the World Series in seven to the Washington Nationals and then be shaken to its core when the largest cheating scandal in baseball history dropped with the Astros at the forefront.
The Astros played under .500 ball, lost Justin Verlander to Tommy John Surgery, a future Hall of Fame former MVP pitcher. Gerrit Cole went to the Bronx. Zack Greinke? He’s been dealing with injuries as well, although he pitched the clinching game against Oakland. When they made it through the expanded playoffs, they defeated Minnesota in two games and Oakland in four. Tomorrow? Dusty Baker announces that they’re starting Framber Valdez, who went 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA in 2020. He has never pitched against the Tampa Bay Rays. Yandy Diaz and the Rays offense will look to break into the Houston bullpen early.
The Big, Bad, Number One Seed of the American League had an historic season. Tyler Glasnow pitched last night on two days of rest, while the Rays didn’t even use Charlie Morton or Blake Snell, which was a best case scenario for Tampa Bay and likely AL Manager of the Year Kevin Cash. The former World Series winning core of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman will matchup against the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell. Snell pitched three times in the ALDS last year, including twice in relief, recording a save.
The Rays have far superior pitching, but Houston has the better lineup on paper, thus it’s a similar matchup for the Rays as the Yankees were and a similar matchup for the Astros as the Athletics were. Lance McCullers Jr. has been announced for Game 2, while the Rays will presumably counter with former Houston Astro Charlie Morton.
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