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ALCS Game 3: Rays one win away from World Series after Astros throw away another game

Mike Oz
·4-min read

You just can’t give your opponents extra outs in the postseason. It’s true whether you’re playing the top-ranked Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS — or anyone really.

The Houston Astros, and their current 0-3 situation, have learned that lesson the hard way. Now they’re one loss away from going home and the Rays are on the cusp of the World Series after a 5-2 win in Game 3.

For the second straight game, a José Altuve throwing error led to a Rays rally that the Astros couldn’t overcome. In Game 2, a bad Altuve throw led to a three-run homer in the first inning. In Game 3, it was even worse.

This time, Altuve misfired a ball to second base in the sixth inning and what followed was a five-run rally Houston never recovered from. Even worse: The Astros were leading at the time, hoping to gain a little footing in this series. That one run actually came off the bat of Altuve in the first inning. But that’s not going to make him feel any better.

The Rays hitting a homer after a throwing error like they did in Game 2, that’s bad. But the sting only lasts a minute. This sixth-inning Astros collapse just wouldn’t go away.

Like most good Rays postseason things, this started with Randy Arozarena getting a hit. Brandon Lowe was up next, but Altuve threw away the possible double play. The Astros brought in reliever Enoli Paredes, who had been spotless so far this postseason. But he’s a rookie who made the jump from Double-A to the majors this season and it showed. He allowed consecutive hits — the second of which was a two-run single by Joey Wendle to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.

After a sac bunt, Paredes then hit the next two betters to bring home another run. Brooks Raley came out of the bullpen, but Hunter Renfroe was up next and brought home two runs with a double.

All while Altuve stood by, his facial expression begging for mercy.

One thing that’s killed the Astros in this series has been leaving runners on base. Nothing hurt more than the eighth inning, as the heart of the Astros’ came up and they managed to load the bases. But again, the Rays got the plays they needed. Kyle Tucker flew out to the right field, where Renfroe made a great catch and prevented the Astros from tagging to score. Then Yuli Gurriel grounded out to end the threat.

It served to prove the overarching theme of the series: The Rays seemingly make every play they need to. The Astros can’t say the same.

Randy Arozarena and the Rays are one win away from the World Series after winning ALCS Game 3. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Randy Arozarena and the Rays are one win away from the World Series after winning ALCS Game 3. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

MUST-SEE MOMENT(S)

In a series where defense is having such a big impact, the Rays are seemingly making every play — many of them with zero room for error. The catch by Kevin Kiermaier was particularly pretty, but there was a playlist of gems.

WHAT THEY’LL BE TALKING ABOUT

Are Altuve’s sudden throwing problems some sort of karmic retribution coming against the Astros? It sounds silly, but this is a sport that believes in the Baseball Gods, not stepping on chalk lines and not talking to pitchers when they’re throwing a no-hitter.

Even if it’s not karma, you can bet there are 29 other fanbases around MLB rooting for the postseason demise of baseball’s biggest villains in decades.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Needing a win, the Astros will send veteran Zack Greinke to the hill. The 36-year-old right-hander has been dealing with some arm soreness during the postseason and hasn't been effective when starting, failing to complete the fifth inning in both of his outings. The Astros managed to win both games, but are facing a tougher challenger against the Rays. They'll need Greinke at his best.

Tyler Glasnow is the main reason Houston needs a good outing from Greinke. Though the Rays right-hander has allowed two home runs in each of his two postseason starts, he's managed to limit damage by racking up key strikeouts. Through 13 1/3 postseason outings, he's struck out 20 batters, including a Rays playoff record 10 in ALDS Game 2 against the Yankees.

It’s win now or go home for Houston.

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