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Rays 4, Astros 1: One more time for the people in the back

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Divisional Series - Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Four Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On the mustiest of must win games thus far, the Tampa Bay Rays jumped on Houston ace Justin Verlander early and kept the pressure on all night, putting runners on base in every inning save the seventh, while six pitchers danced their way through the dangerous Astro lineup during the 4-1 victory.

Diego Castillo took the ball to open, and he was on point from jump street, getting ahead of every hitter and controlling the first. Even after giving up a leadoff Springer oppo dribbler through the infield, he was unfazed, coming back to K Brantley, Altuve AND Bregman. And the Trop, Was. Rockin’!

Justin “Short Rest” Verlander was not as sharp, missing over the plate to several Rays. After a Meadows check swing strikeout, Tommy Pham came to plate. A very short time later, “Ground Ball Tommy” was circling the bases.

1-0 Rays, and that was 408’ for those of you scoring at home.

Choi then worked a walk, and Garcia followed by smoking a grounder through the hole. After a Brandon Lowe pop out, Travis d’Arnaud then singled past a diving Bregman, scoring Choi from second. 2-0 Rays.

Wendle was next on the hit parade, with a double off a cement mixer slider into the right field corner, scoring Garcia and getting the Tiger pen stirring in the first inning.

3-0 Rays.

Verlander finally got out of the inning with a KK strikeout, ruining the prop bet of people who had Castillo lasting longer than Verlander.

Diego came back out for the second and picked up right where he left off, getting ahead of Yordan Alvarez 0-2 before retiring him on a pop out. Castillo lost the plot a bit to Gurriel, walking him on four pitches. He found it again against Correa, inducing another pop out to Wendle. And that would be it for Castillo, as Cash made the call for Yarbrough to set up the lefty-lefty matchup against Reddick. Castillo’s line: 1.2 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts.

Yarbs gave up hard liner to first that Choi snagged.

Verlander settled in — or maybe just got luckier, because he was still catching a ton of plate — in the second, sitting down Adames and Meadows on fly outs. The Rays denied him an easy inning though, as Pham followed by grounding a single through the middle after an eight pitch at bat, and Choi walked on seven pitches. He did come back to strike out Garcia on three pitches.

Yarbrough worked a smooth and quick top of the third, getting a fly out and a pair of tappers back to the mound, putting Verlander right back out there.

The Rays threatened again in the bottom of the frame. Brandon Lowe one-hopping a double over the wall in the right field corner to start it. Little d then rolled out to second, moving Lowe up to third. Productive outs! Wendle was unable to covert the chance, looking at a high curve for strike three. Kiermaier then grounded out second to end the inning.

Yarbs went back out for the fourth, facing Jose Altuve. The little slugger hooked a single to left off a 1-1 change up. With Nick Anderson warming, he got Bregman to pop out to center. His last hitter of the night was Alvarez, who doubled to center. Gary Pettis was aggressive with the send of Altuve, and KK, Willie, and d’Arnaud made him pay for it.

That’s poetry, folks. 8-6-2 poetry.

Nick Anderson entered, closing the book on Yarbs. 2 innings, 2 hits. A wild pitch moved up Alvarez, but Anderson retired Gurriel 1-3 to end the threat.

Fourth inning stretch!

Bottom of the fourth, Willy Adames leading off against the laboring Verlander.

BOOM!

4-0 Rays.

Two out later, Choi drew his third walk in four innings to end JV’s night. 3.2 innings, 4 runs, hits, 5 Ks, 3 walks, 2 dingers.

The Astros sent a parade of relievers to the hill following JV, but the Rays couldn’t find the knockout punch.

Nick Anderson was back out for a clean top of the fifth, including a painted 3-2 fastball for strike three to Robinson Chirinos.

In something of a surprise move, Anderson went back out to pitch the bottom of the inning. He gave up a single to Springer, then saw Brantley absolutely tattoo a 1-0 curveball ... right into Choi’s glove for the easy unassisted double play.

Anderson finished his night by striking out Altuve. His line: 2.1 innings, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts.

Colin Poche came on to work a clean inning in the seventh, including dotting up Alvarez looking at strike three. He was on his way to another clean inning in the eighth, when Robinson Chirinos took a middle-away 0-1 fastball over the wall in right-center. 4-1 Rays.

Poche’s line: 1.2 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts.

Emilio Pagan finished the eighth by getting George Springer to fly to center. Emilio then came out for the ninth in hopes of finishing it. But the Astros had other plans. A long fly out to Brantley was followed by a walk to Altuve after an interminable at bat. Then a Bregman single put runners at the corners for Alvarez. And then —

BAH GOD KING THAT’S SNELL’S MUSIC!

Yes, Blake Snell was on to close this thing, and I. Am. So. Nervous...

Snell gets ahead of Alvarez, then puts him away with the slider. Then he gets ahead of Gurriel and —

It’s a hard grounder up the middle. The shifted Wendle has it. Throws to first. And we are going to Game 5 in Houston!

Let’s gooooooooooooo!