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Rays vs. Astros tale of the tape: Which team has the edge ahead of Saturday’s winner-take-all Game 7?

Saturday night time at Petco Park in San Diego, the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays will take the sector for a decisive Sport 7 of their American League Championship Sequence matchup. The Astros received three straight video games to return again from an 3-0 deficit; they edged out the Rays for one-run wins in Video games 4 (HOU 4, TB 3) and 5 (HOU 4, TB 3) after which stored their season alive with a comeback win in Sport 6 (HOU 7, TB 4) on Friday to drive the winner-take-all contest. Houston is just the second team ever to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. Here’s how you can watch Game 7.

Houston is 8-4 up to now this postseason, having swept the Twins within the best-of-three AL Wild Card Sequence earlier than defeating the Oakland Athletics within the ALDS, 3-1. Tampa is 8-5 this postseason; it swept the Blue Jays (2-0) within the AL Wild Card Sequence earlier than getting previous the Yankees in 5 video games within the ALDS. And as a reminder, this yr’s ALCS is a rematch of the 2019 ALDS the place the Astros prevailed in 5 video games. The Rays have misplaced 4 consecutive video games solely as soon as in 2020, and that was firstly of the common season, once they dropped 5 in a row from July 29-Aug. 2.

Forward of Saturday’s Sport 7, we thought it is perhaps worthwhile to supply readers with a story of the tape for the sequence finale. We’ll take a more in-depth have a look at the starters, bullpen conditions and who’s scorching on the plate. Let’s kick issues off with our two veteran starters:

Morton vs. McCullers 

For the winner-take-all recreation, the pitching matchup might be a rematch of Sport 2. Tampa will ship out Charlie Morton to face Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. The pair of starters was once teammates collectively on the Astros. In actual fact, Morton was on the mound when Houston received Sport 7 of the ALCS and Sport 7 of the World Sequence in 2017. The Rays signed Morton to a $30 million, two-year contract as a free agent following the 2018 season. Albeit, that championship season will now forever be associated with the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. One which Morton himself shared regrets for not doing more to stop his club’s sign-stealing operation

Of their Sport 2 matchup, Morton received the higher of McCullers, throwing 5 scoreless frames. Morton, 36, owns a lifetime 3.16 ERA with 9.6 Ok/9 and three.5 BB/9 in 51 1/3 playoff innings, and he is already received the win-or-go-home expertise from ’17. He is really the one pitcher in MLB historical past with three wins in winner-take-all video games: 2017 ALCS Sport 7 vs. Yankees, 2017 World Sequence Sport 7 vs. Dodgers, 2019 AL Wild Card Sport vs. Athletics). He’ll be trying so as to add a fourth to that listing Saturday night time.

“That is someplace we simply had been with the Yankees,” Morton stated after the Sport 6 loss. “We’re simply going to must combat the entire recreation. I do know I’ve accomplished it [pitched in Game 7], so that offers you the conclusion that you already know that you are able to do it. They’ve [Astros] been placing collectively actually good at-bats so for me, I will have a sound gameplan and I will must execute it. The state of affairs would not change that. So that is what I will be centered on.”

McCullers, 27, was charged with 4 runs in seven innings within the Sport 2 loss. Whereas Morton sports activities an ideal report in win-or-go-home video games, McCullers is not a beginner to this both. In actual fact, McCullers really relieved Morton in Sport 7 of the ALCS in opposition to the Yankees and pitched 4 scoreless innings in aid. And, McCullers received the beginning for Sport 7 of the World Sequence earlier than Morton closed out the sport, pitching the ultimate 4 innings. Morton and McCullers would be the first pair of gamers in postseason historical past to pitch in the identical winner-take-all recreation as teammates after which later begin in opposition to one another in a winner-take-all recreation, in accordance with the Elias Sports activities Bureau.

“I’ve pitched in a few Sport 7’s earlier than so I really feel like with that and coming into the sequence that I used to be slated for [Games] 2 and seven, I have been prepared for these two begins,” McCullers stated forward of his Sport 7 begin.

McCullers and Morton each used their curveball, 37.6 and 32.7 % of the time in the course of the common season, respectively. The distinction is that whereas the Astros lineup struggles to hit in opposition to curves (.194 batting common) in the course of the common season, the Rays fared a lot better with a .284 common. Morton additionally utilized his sinker throughout his current Sport 2 begin within the ALCS. The Astros batters completed the Sport 2 loss having gone 1 for 4 in opposition to the curveball and three for 10 in opposition to the sinker.

Bullpen standing

Rays: Tampa Bay had impressed all season-long with a lights-out bullpen, but it surely collapsed in Sport 6. By the Rays’ first 12 video games this postseason, the staff’s relievers had mixed to inherit 20 runners and stranded all of them. The streak was an all-time longest streak to start a postseason, in accordance with the Elias Sports activities Bureau. In Sport 6, Diego Castillo relieved starter Blake Snell — who expressed his frustrations with being taken out early — with two runners on and no outs. Castillo proceeded to permit each runners to attain on an RBI single from Astros outfielder George Springer. It was additionally the primary time Castillo had allowed a run in his postseason profession (10 appearances). Enoli Paredes, Nick Anderson, Peter Fairbanks, even, Tyler Glasnow might make appearances out of the bullpen.

Astros: The Astros will seemingly hold their nearer Ryan Pressly obtainable for Sport 7. Nonetheless, Pressly is coming off pitching on three consecutive days. With that, there’s an opportunity that he might not be as efficient as ordinary. Pressly has by no means appeared in 4 straight video games earlier than, not to mention 4 straight, must-win postseason video games. The Astros set-up man Cristian Javier might be obtainable as effectively, however he was used for the second straight day on Friday. On the Astros roster, Andre Scrubb, Blake Taylor and Brooks Raley are the one different pitchers who earned a save this season. Scrubb is perhaps unavailable or restricted in Sport 7 as he is thrown 48 pitches within the final two video games.

Scorching bats

Rays: Tampa’s offense has been sluggish, as of late. As a staff, the Rays are hitting .199/.292/.372 for these previous six video games within the ALCS. Rookie Randy Arozarena has been the man to get issues going. Exterior of Arozarena, the Rays lineup has hit a weak .180 with six dwelling runs within the sequence. However even the breakout star Arozarena has gone hitless in his final 5 at-bats. From Sport 4 via Sport 6, he went 2 for 12. In his at-bats, it is noticeable that he struggles with low and inside pitches, however tends to do higher with any pitches thrown off the plate away. In the end, the Rays are going to need more offense than just Arozarena to beat the Astros and win the World Series.

“We have simply received to bounce again,” supervisor Kevin Money instructed reporters, together with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, after the Sport 6 loss.

“This is not the state of affairs that we needed main up 3-0. However it is a resilient group. … Inspired that the offense form of received going there, search for some carryover. We will present up (Saturday) and do every part we will, like we all the time do, to discover a strategy to win and decide one another up. The momentum, there isn’t any doubt momentum has shifted. However I’d wager on this staff being very obtainable and able to bouncing again.”

Ji-Man Choi, Yoshi Tsutsugo and Manuel Margot have all contributed. Margot hit two homers in Sport 6, bringing his postseason whole to 5. Margot had only one dwelling run in 47 video games in the course of the common season. Margot grew to become the sixth Rays participant to report a multi-homer recreation within the postseason, becoming a member of Yandy Diaz, Desmond Jennings, Kelly Shoppach, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria.  

Rays left fielder Brandon Lowe went 1 for 3 within the loss on Friday, however he is nonetheless hit 5 for 48 with one dwelling run this whole postseason.

Astros: It has been Carlos Correa main the way in which in Houston’s comeback. In Sport 6, Correa completed 3 for five with an RBI single to cap off the Astros’ four-run fifth inning. Total via 12 postseason video games this yr, Correa has notched 15 RBI. That introduced his playoff profession whole to 48, which ties Corridor of Famer Reggie Jackson for seventh on MLB’s all-time listing. Solely Bernie Williams (80), Manny Ramirez (78), David Justice (63), Derek Jeter (61), David Ortiz (61) and Albert Pujols (54) have recorded extra.

Correa, at simply 26 years-old, has performed in 62 postseason video games. No different participant in postseason historical past has collected greater than 35 RBIs earlier than turning 27. It was Correa’s Game 5 walk-off home run that stored Houston’s season alive. Total, he is sporting .261/.320/.565 slash line for this yr’s ALCS.

“We’re relentless,” Correa instructed reporters, together with’s Brian McTaggart, after the Sport 6 win.

“After we stated we did not wish to go dwelling, we actually meant that. We wish to hold enjoying baseball and we do not need this to be the tip of our season. We took care of those three video games and now we have got to care for yet one more. If we do not win that recreation, all of it means nothing. We now have to go on the market tomorrow and get that win. It might be nice.”

Exterior of Correa, it has been a balanced offense for Houston, with Jose Altuve, particularly, rebounding from a tough common season. Michael Brantley, Aledmys Diaz, George Springer and Martin Maldonado have all put up spectacular numbers via six video games. Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel, in the meantime, have struggled all through the matchup. He went 0 for five in Sport 6 and carries a .125/.192/.125 line within the ALCS. Gurriel is 2 for 17 general within the ALCS.

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