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Houston, we have a game 5

Photo by Alex Walworth | The Scrum Sports

The Rays offense attacked Verlander in the first and took an early lead. They head to Houston on the brinks of a 4-1 game four victory.

ST. PETERSBURG — For as electric as Tropicana Field was last night – tonight the Trop was the loudest I have ever heard it. The energy this fan base brought tonight was nothing short of amazing.

Diego Castillo opened the game for the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. It was the 44th time this season the Rays used an opener – the seventh time using Castillo. In the six prior regular season outings, Castillo pitched 7.1 innings allowing six runs – five of which were earned. The Rays did, however go 4-2 in those six outings.

Tonight – with the teams back against the wall again – Castillo pitched marvelously. After allowing a lead off single to George Springer, he then proceeded to strike out the side in the first.

“He’s been one of our best over the last six, eight weeks,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said when asked about his starter. “And really impressive for a young pitcher to go out in that environment. We were just talking about that before I came in here. Set the tone and get in the strike zone really quick.”

“Diego, his stuff is tremendous, kind of harnessing it in the strike zone,” Cash continued. “That’s the only concern you have, is he going to be able to find it.”

On the flip side, the first inning went quite differently for Houston Astros starter, Justin Verlander. It was especially different than his game one outing.

Pham gets the party started

After Austin Meadows led off the first inning with a strike out, Tommy Pham – who was feeling good after a fresh hair cut – took Verlander yard on a 2-2 change-up.

ELECTRIC! What a start for the Rays against Verlander, who shut them down in game one.

“[Verlander] made some really good pitches on me,” Pham said when we was asked about his first at-bat. “First pitch, curveball. Then he started dumping sliders. And 2-2, he decided to throw a change-up, and, I mean, he pitches me tough. I just happened to put a good swing on that pitch.”

But wait – there’s more!

Ji-Man Choi walked after the Pham homer followed by an Avisail Garcia single – which put runners on first and second. A Travis d’Arnaud single scored Choi and a Joey Wendle double scored Garcia. And just like that, it’s 3-0 Rays in the first and Verlander is at 32 pitches through one inning.

Not great for a pitcher on three days rest.

Verlander’s night didn’t last as long as the Astros had hoped as he went 3.2 innings allowing seven hits and four runs, including two home runs.

Adames’ clutch inning

In the top of the fourth, with the Rays still leading 3-0, Yordan Alvarez roped a double off the center field wall after Jose Altuve led the inning off with a single.

Unfortunately for the Astros, the Rays continued their impressive defense and made the defensive play of the game. A perfect relay from Kevin Kiermaier to Willy Adames to d’Arnaud hosed Altuve – who was trying to score from first.

“That was probably the biggest play of the game,” Cash said about the relay. “I mean, you cannot execute a relay any better than that. Everything had to be perfect, and it was.”

A play like that will take any momentum that may have been building and throw it right out of the window.

Then Adames leads off the bottom of the fourth inning.

Adames – for the second game in a row – hit a solo home run. According to Stats LLC, Adames is the first player in postseason history to throw out a runner at home plate (that wasn’t a force) and lead off the next inning with a home run.

Brilliant Bullpen

It’s almost a routine now to describe how well the bullpen pitches on a nightly basis and tonight is no different.

“The pitchers were unbelievable, how they executed pitches,” Cash said when asked about the pitching staff.

While Cash mentioned that every pitcher besides Charlies Morton was available tonight, it was a bit of a shock to see Blake Snell come in to close out the game. But, in an elimination game, all hands are on deck.

“When he was coming in, I knew he had it,” Adames said about Snell closing the game. “I told him, Hey, you got this, man. I love you and we trust you. Just do your thing.”

“I loved it, man,” Pham also said. “Did y’all see – did you hear how loud they were playing his walkout? Did you see me in the dugout? I was lit, man.”

It was lit for sure.

Up Next

Game five in Houston. Tyler Glasnow (0-1; 4.15) squares off against Gerrit Cole (1-0; 0.00). The game is scheduled for Thursday, October 10th with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 PM ET.

According to Stats LLC, in Division Series history the road team is 19-13 (.594) all-time in a winner take all Game 5 between all rounds of the postseason and road teams are 58-56 (.509) in all winner take all games.

Let’s Go!

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