The Tampa Bay Rays approach tonight’s Game 4 of the ALCS prepared to advance to the World Series. The odds are ever in their favor as teams leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven series have successfully won the series 37 of 38 times. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros are trying keep their 2020 aspirations from being swept into the trash.
Zack Greinke came out of the gate with five straight fastballs (89, 88, 88, 88, 88) to start the game. With 14 total pitches he retired Margot, Meadows, and Arozarena 1-2-3.
No big deal plenty of game left.
Glasnow brought some heat to start the game. His first pitch was the slowest of seven straight fastballs at 96mph. Springer took the first two for balls and then singled out to left. Ji-Man Choi got to show off his defensive agility in a different was as he started and finished a 3-6-3 double play on a Brantley grounder in the next at-bat.
Then Groundhog Day began.
Tell me if you have seen this before, Jose Altuve hits a solo homerun in the first inning. You have seen it before since it is the third time he has done this in the ALCS.
Jose Altuve continues to be the little shortstop that could by overtaking Mike Brosseau for the fastest pitch hit for a home run in 2020.
Jose Altuve's home run came on a 100.4 mph pitch— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 15, 2020
That's the fastest pitch hit for a home run in 2020 (including postseason), surpassing Mike Brosseau's HR off 100.2 mph from Aroldis Chapman in ALDS Game 5
Three more up for the Rays. Three more down for the Rays.
Glasnow continued to throw heat in the second inning. After getting Correa to ground out, Tucker was left helpless at the plate after a sequence of 100 and 101 mph fastballs followed by an 85 mph curve ball.
Greinke was fully in his bag and dealing. After initially walking Adames in an eight-pitch at-bat, he got Tsutsugo to ground into a double play. Zunino then grounded out to third allowing Greinke to get out of the inning with only 14 pitches.
How concerned am I?
After walking Maldonado, Glasnow continued the Rays trend of being in the right position by taking a ball off his back and having the awareness and durability to make the play at first.
Then, Altuve kept trying to put the team on his back with a hard hit RBI-double to make it a 2-0 lead for the Astros.
It took 25 AB with runners in scoring position, but the #Astros finally have a hit that scored a run.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 15, 2020
According to @StatsBySTATS they were the first team ever to get 4+ hits with RISP in the first 3 games of any postseason series - and have none of them score a run.
Still plenty of game left, right?
Meadows took a changeup and hit it just over the shift to get the first hit for the Rays. Arozarena came to the plate next and after working the count to 3-1 he took a curve and sent it 375 feet over the left field wall!
Randy Arozarena just demolishes baseballs pic.twitter.com/ULhDQv2m8t— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 15, 2020
And just like that, the game was tied 2-2.
Glasnow kept the momentum and hope going striking out Correa and Tucker before getting Gurriel to groundout.
With nine pitches Greinke was balanced with four fastballs, four changeups, and one curve to get Wendle, Adames, and Tsutsugo out in less time than it takes to make instant grits.
After the over four-hour marathon we witnessed in Game 3, tonight feels like a sprint.
Through five, Greinke only allowed the Rays two hits and two runs on 74 pitches.
It’s still anyone’s game at 2-2.
Maldonado with a hard hit single to left with one out put the go ahead runner on base for the Astros.
With George Springer at the plate Glasnow threw four straight fastballs and Springer tried to send the last one into orbit sending it off the Western Metal Supply Building.
110.8mph, 31 degrees, 405 feet. Astros take a 4-2 lead.
Margot and Meadows single, putting two on with one out as hope stays alive for the Rays. Dusty came out but left Greinke in to face Arozarena.
Greinke gets Arozarena out on a called third strike as Arozarena attempted to check his swing. The Astros are the designated home team in this neutral-site game and it feels like the ump may have given a little home cooking with this call.
Ji-Man Choi with an infield single! Surely, this is where the Rays begin the comeback with Brosseau coming to the plate, right?
Wrong. Greinke rings Brosseau up with a changeup to end the inning and deflate some hope.
Bregman leads off with a single that is negated by yet another double play. Glasnow gives up two hits but gets out of the inning without giving up any additional runs.
Cristian Javier on to pitch in relief of Greinke and picks up right where he left off. Outside of a Tsutsugo single to third he used his fastball and slider to get out of the inning with only 16 pitches thrown.
Jose Alvarado came in to represent for the Stable. Outside of a single by Springer he brought the heat and did his job.
Another 1-2-3 inning for the Rays as Javier was throwing some nasty sliders.
Cristian Javier, Wicked Sliders. pic.twitter.com/JylqMkiObl— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 15, 2020
It’s starting to feel like there will be a Game 5.
Slegers came in and set the Astros down in order. Time for the miracle.
Javier still in to pitch and walks Ji-Man Choi bringing the tying run to the plate. After a Lowe strikeout, Choi is out at second as Wendle hits into a fielder’s choice.
Down to the final out.
Adames with a deep blast to center scores Wendle and it’s a one-score game with two outs!
Pressly with a wild pitch on his first offering to Tsutsugo moves Adames to third.
Tsutsugo hit a hard hit to the outfield but not far enough as the rally ends.
Astros win 4-3. Rays lead the series 3-1.