The harder the Astros hit the ball, the more plays the Rays made. It didn’t matter if it was Alex Bregman sending a 394-foot fly ball to left field that was caught at the wall by a leaping Kevin Kiermaier, or third baseman Joey Wendle scooping up a 110.9 mph
The harder the Astros hit the ball, the more plays the Rays made. It didn’t matter if it was Alex Bregman sending a 394-foot fly ball to left field that was caught at the wall by a leaping Kevin Kiermaier, or third baseman Joey Wendle scooping up a 110.9 mph rocket off the bat of Carlos Correa in the sixth inning.
|Gm 1||Oct. 11||TB 2, HOU 1||Watch|
|Gm 2||Oct. 12||TB 4, HOU 2||Watch|
|Gm 3||Oct. 13||TB 5, HOU 2||Watch|
|Gm 4||Oct. 14||8:30 p.m.||TB @ HOU||TBS|
|*Gm 5||Oct. 15||6 p.m.||TB @ HOU||TBS|
|*Gm 6||Oct. 16||#6 p.m.||HOU @ TB||TBS|
|*Gm 7||Oct. 17||$8:30 p.m.||HOU @ TB||TBS|
The Rays seemed to be everywhere, throwing themselves all over Petco Park to make every play against the Astros, who could have made the argument they outplayed Tampa Bay in the first two games of the American League Championship Series. That was certainly the case through the first five innings in Game 3 before everything went awry for Houston.
Another throwing error by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve — his third in two games — again proved costly as it helped the Rays send 11 batters to the plate in the sixth inning and score five runs to pull away for a 5-2 win Tuesday and a 3-0 lead in the ALCS.
In postseason history, teams taking a 3-0 lead in any best-of-seven series have gone on to win 37 of 38 times (97 percent). The 2004 Red Sox, in the ALCS against the Yankees, are the only team to rally after losing the first three games. Of the 37 teams to win after going ahead 3-0, 30 have completed the sweep in Game 4, five have finished it off in Game 5 and two have won it in Game 6.
The salt-in-the wound moment for the Astros, who had crushed the ball for two days in a row with little to show for it, came when Hunter Renfroe capped the five-run outburst in the sixth with a two-run bloop double that came off the bat at 68.4 mph — the Rays’ softest extra-base hit of the season.
The Astros couldn’t buy that kind of fortune.
“The big hit has been eluding us the whole series and it seems like they get whatever they want,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “So far, things haven’t gone our way. We really got our backs up against the wall. It’s a steep mountain to climb, but it’s not impossible. We just gotta tighten our belts, put our big boy pants on and come out fighting tomorrow.”
Jose Urquidy gave the Astros their third consecutive solid start in the ALCS, which only added to their frustration. He carried a shutout into the fifth inning and had a 1-0 lead on the strength of Altuve’s 17th career playoff homer in the first. Things unraveled quickly in the sixth.
After Randy Arozarena led off with a single, Brandon Lowe hit a grounder to Altuve, who tried to throw to second to get the lead runner. Altuve bounced the throw past shortstop Correa for an error that put two on with no outs. A two-run single by Wendle put the Rays ahead, Enoli Paredes hit Willy Adames with the bases loaded and Renfroe blooped his double to right. Suddenly, it was 5-1.
And even when the Astros rallied in the eighth inning by loading the bases with one out, it was Renfroe making a diving catch in right field — his second of the game — to rob Kyle Tucker on a looping liner that had an expected batting average of .830. It was that kind of night for the Astros.
“Runs are very difficult to come by, especially when you’re not getting the big hit,” Baker said. “And like I said, everything went wrong in that five-run inning, we still had action on getting back in the ballgame and winning that game. It hurts to know that you come so close in winning all three games.”