Ashley Landis/Associated Press
Game 1 of the ALCS was a pitching duel. Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen won it.
Snell gave up just one run in five innings, Tampa’s bullpen locked down the dangerous Houston Astros offense for the remaining four, and the Rays took a tight first game in the series Sunday night, 2-1.
Randy Arozarena continued his hot postseason with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, while Mike Zunino provided the game-winning RBI with a single in the bottom of the fifth.
Jose Altuve‘s solo shot in the first inning was all Houston could muster offensively.
The Astros’ red-hot offense carried them throughout the postseason to this point. Tampa’s pitching staff will provide their biggest challenge yet.
Blake Snell, TB: Five innings, six hits, one run, two walks, two strikeouts
Randy Arozarena, TB: 1-for-4, one homer
Tampa Bay Bullpen: Four innings, three hits, no runs, two walks, three strikeouts
Jose Altuve, HOU: 2-for-5, one homer
Framber Valdez, HOU: Six innings, four hits, two runs, four walks, eight strikeouts
Alex Bregman, HOU: 2-for-4
Blake Snell, Randy Arozarena And The Rays Followed Their Blueprint
The Rays probably would have preferred a bigger cushion than one run, but Snell giving them five innings of one-run ball before the bullpen closed the door was a familiar refrain.
Tampa wins behind superb pitching, tidy fielding and just enough offense. It doesn’t beat itself, and the bullpen makes it very, very hard for opposing hitters to beat it, either. It helps when a player like Arozarena has been on fire this postseason:
Game 1 was a Tampa-style result. The Rays are three more performances like it from the World Series.
Jose Altuve And The Astros Did Not
The Astros came into Sunday’s Game 1 with a 5-1 record this postseason, outscoring their opponents by a 40-24 margin. They’ve been hitting the cover off the ball. Minus Altuve’s homer, however, they did not hit the cover off the ball against the Rays.
They did hit the ball, though. Houston finished the night with nine hits. The issue was that it didn’t string those hits together.
This series was always going to be a clash of strengths: Tampa’s pitching vs. Houston’s hitting.
Tampa won Round 1.
Game 2 will be on Monday at 4:07 p.m. ET on TBS. Charlie Morton will take the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays against Lance McCullers Jr.