• Brian L. Barefield

Astros Sends Early Message To American League Champions

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

The Astros got a small piece of revenge on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Although it was just a regular season game, Houston may have still had the feelings they felt the last time the two teams met in Game 7 of the 2020 American League Championship Series.

Tampa Bay would go on the represent the American League in the World Series after defeating the Astros and stopping what would have been a miraculous comeback for Houston as they trailed 3-0 in the series before winning three straight game to force a Game 7.

Houston (14-12) used a 15 hit attack to defeat the Rays (13-14) by a score of 9-2 and send a small message that they are looking to put the pieces together to head back to the ALCS. Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa both had four-hit nights to fuel the Astros attack which aided in the great pitching performance by Lance McCullers Jr. who went seven scoreless innings striking out nine Rays batters while throwing a season-high 111 pitches.

“I felt great,” said McCullers after throwing his second-most career high pitches. “I looked up at the board and seen around 93 pitches and was like, ‘Damn. He (Baker) is probably going to pull me.’ But I was happy he let me go out another inning.”

McCullers performance along with the stellar plate appearances by Brantley and Correa would have been the highlight of the game had it not been for the hustle on the base path by catcher Martiń Maldonado in the top of the fourth inning. He sent a first pitch curveball into the corner of left field that took a bounce off the wall and headed back towards center field as he rounded the bases for his first triple of the season.

“When he tried to pull up at second base I screamed out, ‘No keep going’ so he kept going and I saw him running out of gas a little bit, but he made it,” said Astros SS Carlos Correa on the encouragement he gave Maldonado from the dugout.

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