The Tampa Bay Rays avoided ignominy and held off the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, and will head to the World Series with a 4-2 win on Saturday night at Petco Park in San Diego.
Rays starter Charlie Morton pitched 5.2 innings of shutout baseball with six strikeouts and a walk to give the “home” team what they needed to stay ahead. Randy Arozarena hit a two-run homer in the in the bottom of the first inning off a Tampa Bay resident in the Astros Lance McCullers Jr. That staked the Rays to a lead they’d never relinquish, as catcher Mike Zunino tacked on a solo shot in the second inning, and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
The Rays cruised to a 3-0 lead in the ALCS, but then lost Games 4, 5, and 6 and were nine innings from becoming on the second team in baseball history to blow a 3-0 lead. But they avoid the ignominious company of the 2004 New York Yankees, and will now head to Dallas for the World Series.
They face the winner of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday at 8:15 p.m. tonight in Dallas. The Rays will be “home” team if the Braves win in Games 1, 2, 5, and 7 of the World Series, while the Dodgers hold the best record in baseball and will have the last at-bat advantage if they advance tomorrow night.
The Rays only other appearance in the World Series was in 2008, where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.