Houston's magic number is down to one
Astros get walk-off win over Rays to end four-game skid and put clinch in sight
With losses in their last four games, the Astros returned home and welcomed in the AL-best Rays on Tuesday to try and turn the page on the poor end to their recent road trip. Despite going down late in the game, they would rally in the ninth to get the win in a potential ALCS preview.
Final Score: Astros 4, Rays 3
Astros' Record: 92-65, first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Phil Maton (5-0)
Losing Pitcher: Josh Fleming (10-7)
Rays pounce on Urquidy in the first
Jose Urquidy did not have the first inning he wanted, allowing a single to start the game and a two-run homer to give Tampa Bay an immediate 2-0 advantage. He did rebound decently from that, though, retiring three of the following four batters to end that inning, and went on to get through the fifth without allowing any more damage. That's where his night would end, as after getting behind several batters along the way had already reached 91 pitches. His final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 91 P.
Bregman homers to get Houston on the board
First out of Houston's bullpen was Yimi Garcia, who posted an impressive inning by sitting down Tampa Bay 1-2-3 with two strikeouts. The Rays also went to their bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, which was the change the Astros needed to get their first hit of the night, a solo homer by Alex Bregman to make it 2-1.
Blake Taylor took over in the top of the seventh, keeping it a one-run game by erasing a walk with a double play to end the frame. With the score still a one-run lead for Tampa Bay in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley came in and faced three batters, striking out two and allowing a walk before Phil Maton would wrap up the frame.
Astros walk it off
Another Houston homer came in the bottom of the eighth, as Jose Altuve would tie the game with a one-out solo shot to make it 2-2. Tampa Bay responded in the top of the ninth, though, as Maton remained in the game and was met by a one-out solo homer by Randy Arozarena to put the Rays back ahead 3-2.
The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the ninth, with Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa legging out infield balls to reach base. Kyle Tucker moved the runners to second and third on a groundout, then the Rays intentionally walked Aledmys Diaz and changed their reliever try and get the eight and nine spots of Houston's order out to end the game.
Chas McCormick spoiled those plans, working a walk after a ten-pitch at-bat to tie the game up 3-3. Jason Castro came in to pinch-hit for Martin Maldonado next, and he delivered the walk-off with a walk to end the game, ending Houston's four-game skid, and reduce their magic number to one.
Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start from Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. The expected pitching matchup is Drew Rasmussen (3-0, 2.67 ERA) for Tampa Bay and Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.23 ERA) for Houston.
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