Los Angeles, United States—The Tampa Bay Rays punched their ticket to their second World Series in franchise history with a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros in a decisive game seven of the American League Championship Series on Saturday (Sunday Philippine time).
Rookie Randy Arozarena clubbed a two-run homer in the first inning and Charlie Morton worked 5 2/3 solid innings for the Rays, who won the series 4-3 and await the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves clash which is also headed to a game seven on Sunday.
Arozarena belted a two-run homer in the first inning and now has seven homers in the postseason, matching his total from the regular season. He was named the MVP of the ALCS as the Rays celebrated their victory on the field at Petco Park in San Diego.
“He is the best player on the planet. It’s incredible,” said Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier of Arozarena.
Mike Zunino also slugged an early home run as the Rays salvaged their season and recovered from the shock of being in a winner-take-all showdown after cruising to victories in the first three games then losing three straight.
“Every night we have a different hero. Except for Randy Arozarena. He’s the hero every night,” said Rays Austin Meadows.
The Rays’ win prevented the Astros from becoming just the second team in Major League Baseball history to storm back from a 3-0 deficit.
Tampa Bay reached the World Series in 2008 before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rays starter Morton allowed just two hits, struck out six batters and walked one against the Astros.
Houston ace Lance McCullers struck out seven but allowed four hits, three runs and two home runs in just 3 2/3 innings of work.
Following a tumultuous offseason and a regular season in which they underperformed, the Astros regrouped in the postseason.
Their 2017 World Series championship lost much of its luster after a MLB probe found Houston illegally stole opponents’ signs that year.
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