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ALCS Game 3 Diary: Hunter Renfroe’s Risky Business

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Called in to field after an injury to KK, Renfroe impressed.

MLB: ALCS-Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

When the Astros won the World Series, they started with two losses. When the Rays and Astros met in the ALDS last year, the home team won each game. Today the Rays are the road team in the now-familiar Petco Park.

I’m not worried, you’re worried!

Top 1

Six pitch inning after a pop up from Meadows, and Arozarena & Lowe give the baseballs a ride. Close for both!

  • Randy: 98.9 mph, 34 degrees, 362 feet.
  • Lowe: 98.8 mph, 32 degrees, 361 feet

Springer catches both.

Could some one remind me why this game needed to start at 8:40 PM???

Wonder if this could come into play...

Bottom 1

After a Springer strikeout to start Yarbrough’s night, Jose Altuve runs into a fastball above the letters on his shirt — which is the Altuve sweet spot. The hard hit ball was about as short a strong HR you could hit in this park from the shortest player in the game.

100.2 mph, 29 degrees, 355 feet. Oh well.

To end the frame, KK catches one with a little leap in front of the wall. Upon review, TBS broadcast thought this one was gone... so it was an exciting call!

96.3 mph, 32 degrees, 394 feet, but dead center. lol.

Top 2

So much hard contact! First a lineout by Yandy, then Wendle gets a fair ball up the left field line. On the hit and run, Margot bats one to Bregman who can’t snag it, and there’s runners at the corners.

KK works a full count but a couple change ups gave Urquidy his first at bat of the game that didn’t end on contact. Meanwhile, he’s burning pitches on keeping Margot at first base. One has to wonder if that gets tiring.

Willy Adames also works a full count walks to load the bases on two outs for Michael Perez, making his first appearance of the ALCS. It starts with a tough strike one call, and ends with him free swinging.

This inning had so many hanging changeups! Oh well.

Bottom 2

After a flyout for Correa, Yarbatron struggled to place the curve to Kyle Tucker and walked him. From here Yarbs starts slowing down his pace dramatically.

Yarby switches over to the change to get Yule Gurriel swinging, but the zone starts getting away from him and Aledmys Diaz hits a full count flare over Brandon Lowe for runners at the corners.

Yarbs locks in. Change up, change up, change up, fastball. He sits down the catcher and OMG it’s been 50 minutes! WHAT!

Top 3

Austin Meadows pops out again, but Arozarena gets out in front to double a low curve to left field! 101.5 mph off the bat — which seems impossible.

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Lowe bats the runner over, but Yandy hits another liner to right field, sending Tucker ranging toward the wall but somehow playable. That sucker was 106 mph!

So many base runners. So many hard hits. No runs.

Bottom 3

Loud hit first pitch flyball out for Springer had bark but no bite.

Jose Altuve walks but is out on a fielder’s choice when Brantley taps one to Adames who hustles to second base. Bregman is back up and nearly strikes out on a checked swing against a change, but Yarbs hits him two pitches later.

Two on? No sweat we’ve got KK.

As Yarbrough leaves the mound, I get a commercial from Old Dominion shipping. I appreciate the symmetry.

Top 4

Sharp ground out, strike out (nice spin on that slider), soft ground out for Wendle, Margot, and Kiermaier. Yeesh.

I know, I know, pitching and defense, but...

Bottom 4

Kyle Tucker lines out to Joey Wendle playing short stop in the shift. Gurriel hits a can of corn to left field that KK takes because he can. Aledmys Diaz chases a couple change ups and Yarbs cruises here!

Those two innings took only 45 minutes!

Top 5

Adames sends one to deep center-right field but the ball dies. Did the Marine Layer sneak in when no one was looking?

Perez strikes out, and Meadows pops out to center field this time. He’s popping out to all three fields!

Bottom 5

Yarbrough returns to the mound a new man — three pitches to K the catcher. Maybe that’s just the catcher but it was a sexy strikeout.

After coaxing an easy flyball out of Springer, the groundball was in action. Jose Altuve hit a difficult one to Willy ranging to his right, but he turns and fires to Yandy Diaz at first base who makes a stellar play to match Adames’s effort!

Top 6

Randy has ANOTHER base hit, again to left field getting a low curveball out front. Who says he’s only a fastball killer?

Following the script, Brandon Lowe hits ANOTHER ground ball into the shift — but this time Altuve repeats his antics of last night, committing a throwing error trying to turn two at second base.

Altuve’s yips puts two on, none out — so Dusty Baker calls in Enoli Paredes.

Yandy Diaz fouls one deep enough to be a longball, but then gets a line drive — oh man where’s it going??? — it drops in front of the center fielder! Randy cuts back to second base so can only advance to third — no outs, bases loaded instead of a run on the board.

Joey Wendle follows his script and hits ANOTHER slapper the opposite way, bouncing off the edge of Bregman’s upstretched glove, and two score!

2-1 Rays!

Manuel Margot decides to drop a sac bunt — surprise! — and pops it up. Maldonado trips on Margot trying to make the out, but they still get the runner as Yandy and Wendle move into scoring position for KK.

Kiermaier tallies two strikes, and Paredes hits KK and — oh no, it looks like it hurts — the pitch runs in on his left wrist. KK needs a check up, but stays in.

Adames comes up with bases loaded again, and on the next pitch? Paredes hits Adames on the FINGER!

3-1 Rays and — holy crap — Paredes is pulled after 12 pitches! 1 strike thrown!

Lefty Brooks Railey enters the game for the upcoming lefties Perez and Meadows — so Kevin Cash calls upon Hunter Renfroe. Of course!

Riley is wild, and Renfroe bloops one the other way scoring two more!

5-1 Rays!

Meadows finds a new place to pop out — foul territory — and the Astros intentionally walk Arozarena to load the bases yet again, now with two outs, for Brandon Lowe.

Regular season MVP Lowe does a killer job fouling off pitches but eventually K’s on the seventh pitch of the at bat. You have to feel for Brandon!

KK goes into the clubhouse, presumably for X-Rays.

Bottom 6

Yarbrough’s first pitch of the inning to the same handed Michael Brantley is a homer — with Randy leaping at the wall and nearly losing his glove.

5-2 Rays and it’s only a three run lead.

Cash calls upon the Stable and is all-in for the win, retrieving Pete Fairbanks, who had breaking stuff freezing Bregman before he finally times one up enough, but he grounds out to Wendle.

Correa follows with a groundball off 99 mph paint for an easy out to Adames. Kyle Tucker taps a 98 mph fastball back to the mound and the inning is done.

Those two inning? 65 minutes. I’m cool with it though.

Top 7

Josh James is the new reliever and starts Yandy Diaz with a strikeout called on a 99 mph fastball well outside the zone, but whatever.

Joey Wendle watches three curves, swings at the fourth, but the hard grounder ricochets up off the mound and turns into an easily playable out.

More calls on the outside edge to righties leads to a strikeout for Margot, and — hark — I can head the pale horse riding! Those calls better go both ways!

Bottom 7

FIRST PITCH the ball is hit down into the dirt and spits up into the air — Curtiss make a leap toward the third base side and fields the ball on a full stretch — turns and burns to Yandy who is led into the runner but it’s an out.

WOW.

Randy gets the chance to duplicate fielding heroics but a late jump means the ball goes under the diving Arozarena’s glove. So a runner on, but I’m just glad Randy and Diaz for that matter are ok.

The broadcast reports KK’s x-rays are negative, he’s day to day. Let’s dial back in!

Curtiss battles with Maldonado and gets him looking at 95 down and away in the zone.

Springer takes a slider for a called strike, but then connects on a fastball, sending it to right field. Hunter Renfroe’s turn, and dives to make the catch! RISKY! If Renfroe doesn’t field the ball laying out it could have been an inside the park nightmare — but neigh!

Top 8

Josh James returns and Zunino — hitting in KK’s slot — drives up the pitch count, but he’s out on a strikeout. Adames flies out to deep center, Renfroe pops out to third base, but the most important development here was Dusty wasting Josh James when down three runs.

It’s mega galaxy brain, but I’m not gonna complain.

Bottom 8

Curtiss stays in, and it’s Jose Altuve with tears in his eyes. He chops one in front of the plate that skips up the right field line for a single, and Cash calls in Post-Season stalwart, former Astros minor leaguer, rookie Ryan Thompson.

Pumping his feet like he’s Peyton Manning in the pocket, Thompson and his bright white kicks starts his outing with a single to Michael Brantley to make it two men on.

No outs.

Alex Bregman fouls his way to a full count against the sidewinder, and on the seventh pitch throws a ballsy slider into the zone. Strikeout swinging!

Thompson is mostly sinkers, but is able to lock up Correa on a slider that pulls a Chaz Roe and makes the star short stop flinch for strike 2. He builds up an eight pitch at bat and then taps a slider — what the broadcast calls a swinging bunt — and the slow roller in unfieldable.

Bases loaded, one out, and it’s time for another pitcher.

LHP Aaron Loup is on for the third straight game, and it’s his chance to prove he’s the fourth best reliever in the Rays bullpen, facing the lefty Kyle Tucker who singles in each of the previous two games off Loup.

Loup challenges tucker with a fastball middle-in, and Hunter Renfroe sprints in to gobble up the ball. Renfroe has a killer arm, and despite sliding after the catch, Altuve (the man on third) is halfway down the third base line and needs to tag up. He can’t advance!

No runners score, and Yuli Gurriel grounds out harmlessly to Adames thanks to a strong throw from the kid.

Those two innings? 50 minutes. TIME FOR THE NINTH!

Top 9

More of the same script!

Good news — Meadows didn’t pop out. Bad news — Meadows had another foul out; foul tip strikeout that is.

Arozarena then breaks his bat but singles to right field, his fourth time on base, making him the first rookie with four 3-hit games in a postseason. Peep the full list.

Brandon Lowe was able to reach for a deep flyball to left field, but it fell short of the warning track for the out. With no runs added to the three run lead, it was time for another horseman.

Bottom 9

Diego Castillo:

  • Three pitch strikeout swinging of Josh Reddick (Good)
  • Eight pitch walk to switch hitter Abraham Toro (Push)
  • Four pitch walk to George Springer (Bad)
  • Five slider checked swing strikeout of Jose Altuve (Great!)
  • Three pitch fly out of Michael Brantley (Amazing!)

It’s 23 pitches from San Diego Castillo, which means he could be available again, say, tomorrow?

It’s a best of seven series, and the Tampa Bay Rays have a 3-0 lead!