MLB playoffs 2021: Rookies lead Rays to Game 1 win as Astros stifle White Sox

By Sports Desk October 07, 2021

A trio of rookies starred as the Tampa Bay Rays began the road back to the World Series with a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series (ALDS). 

After posting an AL-best 100-62 record during the regular MLB season, the Rays got standout performances from pitcher Shane McClanahan and hitters Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena as they opened their defence of the AL pennant at Tropicana Field. 

McClanahan scattered five hits in five shut-out innings on Thursday, striking out three without walking a batter in his first postseason start. 

The Rays became the first team in MLB playoff history to have two rookies post an extra-base hit and another rookie toss a scoreless start in the same game, per Stats Perform.

His team-mates gave him run support early, as Franco doubled home a run in the first, then came around to score on a Yandy Diaz single. The 20-year-old phenom would add another double in the seventh.

Nelson Cruz, who at 41 is more than twice as old as his Dominican countryman Franco, went deep in the third for his 18th postseason home run. 

Not to be outdone, the breakout star of the 2020 playoffs – though still technically a rookie – Arozarena added a majestic solo shot to left in the fifth inning, then stole home in the seventh. 

According to Stats Perform, Arozarena is the first player in MLB postseason history to hit a home run and steal home in the same game. 

Tampa Bay will send another rookie to the mound in Game 2 as Shane Baz takes the ball against Red Sox veteran Chris Sale. 

The Houston Astros opened the other ALDS with an emphatic 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox as Lance McCullers Jr. was dominant on the mound for the home side. 

McCullers allowed four hits and did not walk a batter in 6.2 shut-out innings while striking out four, making him the first Astros pitcher to go at least that long in a postseason game without a walk since Brandon Backe against the White Sox in the 2005 World Series.

In 15 career postseason games, McCullers has a 2.87 ERA and has struck out 9.62 batters per nine innings. 

Yordan Alvarez entered the game with just 14 hits in 58 postseason at-bats (.241) but he was the hitting star for Houston in Game 1.

The designated hitter reached base three times in four trips to the plate, driving in a run with a double in the third inning and another with a solo homer in the fifth. 

While Alvarez did the heavy lifting, Jose Altuve provided the highlight of the night with a nifty slide to score from third on an Alex Bregman grounder to third base in the third inning. 

Game 2 is Friday in Houston with the Astros sending Framber Valdez to the mound against Chicago's Lucas Giolito. 


Dodgers at Giants

Eternal rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have each won 107 games this season, and they open their National League Division Series (NLDS) with Walker Buehler and Logan Webb on the mound on Friday. 

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    Cora's new deal will run through the 2027 season and will be worth more than $7 million annually, according to MLB Network. ESPN reported earlier Wednesday that the 48-year-old was nearing an agreement on a three-year, $21.75 million extension.

    The agreement also ends speculation on Cora's future in Boston with his current contract due to expire at the end of this season. The 2018 World Series champion will become the second-highest paid manager in the majors behind Craig Counsell, who left the Milwaukee Brewers for the Chicago Cubs in the offseason on a deal that pays him $8 million annually.

    Cora is in his fourth consecutive season as the Red Sox's manager and sixth overall with the club. He was dismissed following the 2019 season as he served a one-year suspension in 2020 as part of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal of 2017, then rehired by Boston after being reinstated by Major League Baseball.

    The Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 regular-season games and captured their most recent World Series title in Cora's first season in 2018. Boston also reached the post-season during Cora's return to the team in 2021, though the Red Sox have missed the playoffs in each of the past two years.

    Cora has the Red Sox back in the mix for a playoff spot this season, however. Boston enters Wednesday's play one game behind the Kansas City Royals for the American League's final wild card berth with a 54-46 record. 

    The Puerto Rico native has compiled a 494-416 regular-season record during his time in Boston.

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  • MLB: Skenes suffers first loss as Cardinals edge Pirates MLB: Skenes suffers first loss as Cardinals edge Pirates

    Pirates All-Star rookie Paul Skenes lost for the first time in 12 career major league starts as Alec Burleson stroked a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 2-1 win on Tuesday night.

    Skenes threw 91 pitches through eight innings and was allowed to start the ninth for the first time.

    Michael Siani opened the inning with a double down the left-field line and took third on Masyn Winn’s groundout. He scored when Burleson lined an 0-2 fastball into right on Skenes’ 104th and final pitch.

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    Ryan Helsley struck out three straight batters on 13 pitches for his major league-leading 33rd save in 35 chances.

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    Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald became the first Giants rookie to homer in five consecutive games with a solo shot off Landon Knack in the second inning. He is the first Giants player to go deep in at least five straight since Barry Bonds had a seven-game streak in 2004.

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    After Freddie Freeman and Teoscar Hernandez drew two-out walks in the first against Jordan Hicks, Gavin Lux’s double staked the Dodgers to a 2-0 lead.

    Ohtani followed Jason Heyward’s hit by pitch and Cavan Biggio’s single in the fourth with a double off the right-field fence to make it 4-1.

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    McNeil’s homer in the sixth off Michael Tonkin snapped a 1-1 tie and was his fourth in five games since the All-Star break.

    Gleyber Torres homered and Alex Verdugo doubled home a run for the Yankees, who dropped to 9-19 in their last 28 games.

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    Gonzales hit that scored All-Star Bryan Reynolds snapped a 1-1 tie and helped give Pittsburgh its seventh win in eight games as it pushes for a play-off spot in the National League. The Pirates, who last reached the post-season in 2015, sit a half-game behind the New York Mets for the NL's final wild card spot.

    Pittsburgh also moved within a game of St. Louis for the second wild card. 

    Reynolds led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch by St. Louis reliever John King. Two batters later, Gonzales hit a slow grounder that got through the infield to score Reynolds for a 2-1 Pittsburgh lead.

    David Bednar then held the Cardinals scoreless in the ninth to earn his 18th save of the season. Aroldis Chapman received the win with one scoreless inning in relief of Mitch Keller, who allowed just one run on six hits in a seven-inning no-decision.

    The Cardinals also got a solid outing from their starter, as Andre Pallante yielded just one run and three hits through six innings.

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    Witt tripled in the first inning, doubled in the third and delivered a three-run homer in the fourth that gave the Royals an 8-3 lead. The All-Star shortstop was hit by a pitch and flied out in his final two at-bats, though, to narrowly miss becoming the first Kansas City player to record a cycle since Hall of Famer George Brett in 1990.

    Salvador Perez had a go-ahead two-run homer in the third inning and Hunter Renfroe later added a solo shot as part of the Royals' 15-hit attack. Vinnie Pasquantino and Kyle Isbel each collected three hits, with Isbel driving in two runs and Perez three.

    Arizona had taken a 3-1 lead when Ketel Marte followed Alek Thomas' RBI double in the top of the third with a two-run homer off Cole Ragans. The Royals countered with three runs in their half of the inning, however, to quickly move back ahead.

    Witt started the rally with a lead-off double and scored on Pasquantino's single before Perez launched Arizona starter Yilber Diaz's pitch over the center field wall for a 4-3 Kansas City edge.

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    Isbel doubled in Maikel Garcia and Adam Frazier followed with an infield single to chase Diaz. Witt then greeted Miguel Castro with a home run on the reliever's first pitch to put Arizona at a five-run deficit.

    Renfroe's solo homer in the fifth increased the lead to 9-3.  Perez drove in Witt with the Royals' final run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

    Ragans (7-6) shook off his early troubles to work six innings while allowing three runs on five hits and striking out six.

    Diaz (1-1), making his third MLB start, was tagged for seven runs in three-plus innings.

    Isbel previously knocked in Kansas City's first run with a second-inning single. The Diamondbacks managed a late run in the eighth when Christian Walker doubled and later scored on Eugenio Suarez's sac fly.

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    After giving up hits to three of the game's first four batters, including Harper's two-run homer, Ober (9-5) yielded just one more hit over the remainder of his seven-inning stint to improve to 4-1 over his last six starts. The right-hander retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced.

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    The Phillies still own the majors' best record at 63-37 but have now lost four of their last five games.

    After Castro's third-inning single plated Diego Castillo to trim Philadelphia's lead to 2-1, the Twins struck twice more in the fifth to forge ahead.

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    Cole Sands worked the final two innings for Minnesota to notch his third save of the season.



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