MOMENTUM SHIFTS DRAMATICALLY FOR TAMPA BAY IN GAME 3
Last updated 10/8/2019 at Noon
After getting “Verlander’d” in the first game and “Cole’d” in Game No. 2, the Tampa Bay Rays returned home with their backs against the wall and completely turned the tables on the Houston Astros Monday in Game 3 of the American League Division Series with a convincing 10-3 victory.
The Rays jumped on the Astros’ No. 3 starter Zack Greinke Monday, pounding three home runs which accounted for all five runs off the crafty right-hander, who lasted less than four innings.
In the meantime, Ray’s starter Charlie Morton, who won the deciding game that put the Astros into the 2017 World Series and then relieved and was the winner in the seventh game of the Series, enjoyed the early cushion his teammates gave him Monday.
However, Morton threw more than 40 pitches in the first two innings and left the game after the fifth inning with a very comfortable lead.
He surrendered a first-inning home run to Jose Altuve and toiled in those first two frames.
Houston scored two more runs off the Tampa Bay bullpen on a two-run single by Yuli Gurriel, but the Astros were unable to get any kind of rally started.
The two teams played yesterday with the Astros planning to pitch Justin Verlander on just three day’s rest.
Manager A.J. Hinch wants to get the best-of-five series over.
And as an ace-in-the-hole, he has Gerrit Cole ready to pitch on three-days rest in Game 5 if Verlander doesn’t do what he’s done 22 times this year—win.
Verlander was nearly perfect in Friday’s opener at Minute Maid Park as he pitched seven strong innings, allowing no runs and only two singles and striking out nine Rays batsmen as the Astros won 6-2.
Not to be outdone, Gerrit Cole, who has been pitching for the Astros all season in Verlander’s shadow, also allowed no runs in his seven-inning stint, gave up four harmless hits but struck out a playoff record 15 Tampa Bay batters.
Tampa Bay was able to muster no runs, only six hits and had 24 hitters retired via the strikeouts route of Verlander and Cole in their combined 14 innings of work Friday and Saturday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Cole had to sweat out his victory thanks to a sub-par relief performance by ace closer Roberto Osuna who got the final out on a crucial strikeout in the eighth inning and attempted to close out the 3-0 game for Cole in the ninth.
But as in many games where the closer tries to pitch more than a single inning, Osuna gave up two singles, two walks and a wild pitch, getting one out with the run scoring and then felt the hook of Manager A.J. Hinch, who brought in Will Harris.
Harris, who led the American League with a 1.50 earned run average during the regular season, got the last two hitters on nine pitches to pick up the save.
Results in the NLDS Monday night saw the St. Louis Cardinals edge Atlanta in 10 innings 5-4 to even the series at 2-2.
The same is true with the other NLDS series where the Washington Nationals downed the LA Dodgers 6-1 to even that series at 2-2.
The New York Yankees were leading Minnesota 3-0 late in the game.
If the Yankees win, they will wait for the winner between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays.
I’m hoping that by the time this newspaper hits the streets, the Houston Astros will already be ready for the championship round of the ALDS. KWICKIES…For as many times as Orange’s Earl Thomas has played football when he was not 100 per cent healthy, it’s no wonder he got all over Baltimore Ravens’ teammate Brandon Williams last week, who’s an All-Pro defensive lineman, when he practiced all week and then missed the game in which the Cleveland Browns soundly beat their defense and won 40-25.
Earl’s lecture somehow went national and appeared in Friday’s Houston Chronicle.
But being the easy-going person that Earl is, the two patched up their differences and played Sunday, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23 in overtime.
My McNeese Cowboys announced their 2019-20 basketball schedule last week.
The Pokes will visit NCAA Tournament participant Wisconsin Nov. 13 and reigning NIT champion Texas Nov. 30.
The Cowboys will open their season Nov. 6 at Western Michigan of the MAC. The top 10- teams in this week’s Associated Press College Football Rankings remained nearly intact with the top six teams the same—Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU—with Florida jumping three places to No. 7 and Wisconsin and Notre Dame each dropping one notch and Penn State moving up two places to No. 10.
Texas remained at No. 11, SMU jumped three places to No. 21 and idle Texas A&M moved up one spot to No. 24.
JUST BETWEEN US… The Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys went in different directions during Sunday’s National Football League action.
The Texans played their best game of the season, walloping the Atlanta Falcons 53-32, while the Dallas Cowboys looked pathetic on run defense, losing the Green Bay Packers 34-24 in a home game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated.
Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers kept his streak alive of never losing in AT&T Stadium.
But the real hero in the victory was Packer running back Aaron Jones who scored four rushing touchdowns, gaining 109 yards on 19 carries.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott connected on 27 of 44 passes for 463 yards, but suffered three critical interceptions.