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Arozarena, Rays top Astros 4-2 in Game 7, reach World Series

BREAKING: Tampa Bay Rays advance to World Series, beating Houston Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of American League Championship Series.

10/18/2020 7:21:00 AM

BREAKING: Tampa Bay Rays advance to World Series, beating Houston Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of American League Championship Series.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Remarkable rookie Randy Arozarena homered again, 36-year-old Charlie Morton was brilliant against his former team and the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series for the second...

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Remarkable rookie Randy Arozarena homered again, 36-year-old Charlie Morton was brilliant against his former team and the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series for the second time, silencing the Houston Astros 4-2 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

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The Rays will face either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves in the World Series in Arlington, Texas, starting Tuesday night. Game 7 of the NLCS is Sunday night.Tampa Bay’s only other World Series appearance was in 2008, when it lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

The innovative Rays led the AL with a 40-20 record in the pandemic-shortened season. Known for their pitching and defense, they also introduced the concept of the starter and sometimes deploy a four-man outfield.ADVERTISEMENT“You sit here and look at this group of guys, and I always say we don’t have a lot of household names, but at the same time, people are making a name for themselves right now,” said outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay’s longest-tenured player. “And if you don’t know the name by now, they better learn them, because we’ve we got some boys who can play.”

Right fielder Manuel Margot squeezed Aldemys Diaz’s flyball in his glove for the final out and fireworks burst over the empty ballpark as the fun-loving Rays began to celebrate.Arozarena was chosen as the ALCS MVP and did Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous goal celebration dance.

Tampa Bay snapped a three-game losing streak and prevented the Astros from matching the 2004 Boston Red Sox, the only major league team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series.The Rays also kept the Astros from becoming the first team to win a pennant with a losing regular-season record (29-31).

The loss ended Houston’s first season since its sign-stealing scandal was revealed. The Astros were viewed by many fans as villains for their role in the cheating scandal en route to the 2017 title against the Dodgers, a scam that eventually cost manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.

Under new manager Dusty Baker, the Astros were trying to reach the World Series for the third time in four seasons. They lost Game 7 to Washington last year.Mike Zunino homered and drove in two runs for the Rays, who avoided the ignominy of joining the 2004 New York Yankees, who took a 3-0 lead in the ALCS and lost four straight to the Red Sox. Boston went on to win its first World Series in 86 seasons.

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Arozarena, relatively unknown before these playoffs, set a rookie record with his seventh homer of the postseason. His 21 hits are one shy Derek Jeter’s 1996 rookie postseason record.Nicknamed “The Cuban Rocket,” the 25-year-old Arozarena drove a 1-1 sinker from Lance McCullers Jr. to right-center field at Petco Park with one out in the first for a two-run homer.

Margot, who played with the San Diego Padres from late in the 2016 season until being traded to Tampa Bay in the offseason, was aboard after getting hit with a pitch.Arozarena defected from Cuba to Mexico in 2015, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 and made his big league debut last year. Traded to Tampa Bay in the offseason, he tested positive for COVID-19 before summer camp and didn’t make his 2020 debut until Aug. 30.

Until he started showing his October power, Arozarena was best known for a gaffe he committed while with the St. Louis Cardinals last postseason. After the Cardinals beat Atlanta in the NL Division Series, he posted manager Mike Schildt’s profane clubhouse rant to social media, not realizing it would get a negative reaction.

ADVERTISEMENTMorton held the Astros to two hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out six and walking one. He retired 14 straight batters until walking Martin Maldonado with one out in the sixth. George Springer forced Maldonado and took third on José Altuve’s two-out infield single, and manager Kevin Cash pulled Morton after just 66 pitches. Nick Anderson came on and retired Michael Brantley.

“Cash made the right move again — shocker,” kidded ace Tyler Glasnow, now lined up to start the World Series opener.Morton is the first major leaguer to earn the victory in four winner-take-all games, including Game 7 of the 2017 World Series and Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS against the Yankees when he was with Houston. He signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent before the 2019 season and won the wild card game at Oakland last year. The Rays were then eliminated by the Astros in the ALDS.

The Astros broke through against the Rays’ bullpen in the eighth. Carlos Correa hit a two-run single off Pete Fairbanks before the reliever struck out Alex Bregman on a 100 mph fastball.Fairbanks worked around a one-out single in the ninth to close it for a save.

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McCullers Jr. lasted only 3 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs and four hits, struck out seven and walked one.Morton and McCullers became the first pair to pitch in the same winner-take-all postseason game as teammates and later start against each other in a winner-take-all game. In the decisive Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, McCullers started and went 2 1/3 scoreless innings while Morton pitched the final four innings for the victory.

Zunino hit a solo shot into the second deck in left off McCullers with one out in the second and added a sacrifice fly in the sixth. On Friday night, he snapped his bat over his knee in frustration after striking out on three pitches.HOMER RECORDArozarena is only one homer away from matching the major league record of eight homers in any single postseason. Barry Bonds set the mark for San Francisco in 2002, and it was tied by Houston’s Carlos Beltran in 2004 and Texas’ Nelson Cruz in 2011. Arozarena is only the ninth player ever to homer seven times in a single postseason, all of them occurring since 1995 in the wild card era.

TRAINER’S ROOMRays: Three-time Gold Glove Award-winning CF Kiermaier was back in the lineup. He missed three starts after being hit with a pitch on the left hand in Game 3.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Read more: The Associated Press »

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Now it’s time to beat the Dodgers !!!! great news that cheaters are losers! So sad😢😢😢😢 Couldn't have happened to a nicer group of cheaters. See you never astros Congratulations RaysBaseball and thank you for beating the hated cheating astros (nod to CheatingAstros ) Astros got lucky, whatever they proved, still make em cheaters. Congratulations to TB, End of the story

To be clear, they’re only going to the US series, as no other countries are playing. Thank god don't have to see that lame eye black on Altuve in the World Series. GREAT!!! CHEATERS GO HOME!! The cheaters where sent home. You’re next trump crime family. Bang the drums! What game is this? GOOD. Signed, Dodgers fan💙

TomBrady in Tampa sure is helping the teams espn JoeNBC Buccaneers Rooting for the RaysBaseball Baseball is happening? Worst trade the Cards have made since Rick Wise for Steve Carlton. Baseball is still going on? This the guy we gave up for Libertore BPrince13 jeffstone3311 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ A much needed night of unity amongst a very divided America. Thank you and congratulations RaysBaseball.

Barely beat us and btw they still gotta win the WS or it dont mean shit So hilarious all these haters saying they are glad the cheating Astros finally lost while happily rooting for the Rays who had a pitcher named Charlie Morton that was on the same 2017 cheating Astros team. Wouldn’t 4-2 be game 6...?

When only 25% of the teams are playing why even have a world Series? As a Dodger fan I couldn't care less that Houston lost. Sure, we want to get revenge for the WS title that was stolen from us in '17 but let's do it after a 162 game season. That way we KNOW there's no team better than the Dodgers. Hats off to the Rays.

satan takes a holiday Congrats, Rays. You deserve it. Hey Altuve did your buzzer let you know your season was over? cheater Let’s go Flappy Bois! RaysUp Tampa wins at baseball, hockey and now maybe football too? So long Ass-tros. If you're wondering why I resorted to such juvenile terminology: they spent last 6 months NOT apologizing for cheating, and instead acted like 'yeah we cheated but we're good enough that we didn't need to so what ya gonna do.' So: they're the Trump of baseball.

ASStros Can Tampa Bay pull off a Championship Trifecta? Lightning, Rays, Bucs? Prediction: The reason they'll fail is that Tom Brady is 43 years old. RaysUp RaysUp They beat the cheats! There world cna rejoice the cheating assholes...I mean astros didn't advance 🤘 Nature is healing. Good. Screw the cheating Astros.

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The Rays Will Win the World Series. Even if They Lose.The four top executives left in this year’s MLB playoffs are Andrew Friedman—and three people Andrew Friedman hired. This year is so crazy I was totally confused by Sports. Oh I miss the days when that made headlines. India became hub of corona virus and Modi up-against minorities. TimeToBlacklistIndia KashmirWantsFreedom Peace Brother!! S mirom,za spakaj dushi''

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Is the World Series actually going on right now Stealing signs, reading minds. Houston Asterisks.