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#pounditSaturday, October 24, 2020

Baseball

Randy Arozarena wins ALCS MVP and is making postseason history

Randy Arozarena

Randy Arozarena very deservingly won ALCS MVP after his Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday night at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. to advance to the World Series.

Arozarena, who was acquired by the Rays in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in January, got the Rays off to a great start with a 2-run home run in the first inning.

The homer was Arozarena’s fourth of the series and seventh of the postseason.

Not only did Arozarena become the first rookie position player in history to win ALCS MVP, but he’s closing in on another record.

Arozarena’s seven home runs put him one behind the record for the most in a single postseason. He can tie Nelson Cruz (2011), Carlos Beltran (2004) and Barry Bonds (2002) at eight if he hits one more and set the record with two more.

The 25-year-old Cuban outfielder had seven home runs in 23 games during the regular season and has that many in 14 postseason games. He has been an unstoppable force and big reason why the Rays reached the World Series.

Ex-Yankees P throws shade at Astros after Game 7 loss

Phil Hughes

Many baseball fans got a chance to revel in the moment after the Houston Astros were eliminated from the MLB playoffs on Saturday with a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. One of the people who enjoyed their elimination was longtime New York Yankees pitcher, Phil Hughes.

Hughes sarcastically joked that the Astros being eliminated was a “shame.” He also called the Astros “clowns.”

He’s right about how bad it would look to see a team that went 29-31 make the World Series, though this shortened season has resulted in many irregularities. Still, Hughes’ reaction is reflective of a unified chorus among fans who wanted to see the Astros lose due to their cheating.

Instead, MLB will get a World Series involving the Tampa Bay Rays, which has one celebrity fan very happy.

Photo: Mandalatv/Wikimedia via CC BY-SA 3.0

Video: Longtime Rays fan Dick Vitale reacts to Tampa Bay winning pennant

Dick Vitale Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday night at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. to advance to the World Series for just the second time in their franchise’s history. The big win was rewarding for the team’s fans, including longtime fan Dick Vitale.

Vitale, best known for his passionate college basketball analysis, shared a video on Twitter of his reaction to the Rays making the World Series.

Even at 81, Vitale can still bring the energy and passion. You have to love it.

Vitale is no poser either. He’s been sharing his thoughts on the Rays for years, and isn’t afraid to criticize them. Now he gets the chance to enjoy their success.

Vitale is also pleased about how all the sports teams are performing in the Tampa area.

It’s a good time to be a Tampa sports fan.

Nobody could understand why the Rays pulled Charlie Morton from Game 7

Kevin Cash

The Tampa Bay Rays made a decision during Game 7 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. on Saturday that left many fans confused.

Charlie Morton was the starter for the game and allowed just one hit through five scoreless innings. In the sixth, he got a strikeout, allowed a walk, got a groundout, and then gave up an infield single.

With runners on first and third and two outs, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash removed Morton for reliever Nick Anderson.

Many watching the game could not understand pulling Morton, who had only allowed two hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. Morton had only thrown 66 pitches, too.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen expressed his disagreement with the move.

So did former Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr.

Some of the modern thinking is that it’s better to pull a pitcher a batter too early than a batter too late. But the risk is you end up pulling a hot pitcher for someone who isn’t as good, like last year’s Game 7 backfire.

Cash pulled his starter quickly in Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday night and stood by the decision, even though it didn’t work out. The man has a plan and sticks with it … even if it doesn’t make much sense to the rest of us.

Who will start Game 7 for the Dodgers?

Dave Roberts

The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off a big win by beating the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in Game 6 of the NLCS on Saturday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas to force a Game 7. Just getting the win was a huge victory for the Dodgers, but it also brings up a big question: who will pitch Game 7?

The Braves are pitching Ian Anderson, who has been stellar in the postseason this year. The 22-year-old rookie hasn’t allowed a run in 15.2 innings over three starts. He has only allowed six hits, while striking out 22.

So what will be the answer for the Dodgers? As of Saturday evening following Game 6, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not have an answer, but he did provide some clues.

Roberts said that Tony Gonsolin, who is on schedule to start, would likely take a big portion of the innings for the game.

Gonsolin started in Game 2 but gave up five runs over 4.1 innings and took the loss.

The Dodgers could use Brusdar Graterol as an opener, and then go with Gonsolin and Julio Urias for a large portion of the innings.

Roberts will also check to see if Clayton Kershaw will be available to pitch in relief. Kershaw pitched in Game 4 and took the loss.

Winning Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 were the first tasks for the Dodgers before worrying about Game 7. They have taken care of those steps and now will need to patch together 27 outs in Sunday’s deciding game. Expect to see Gonsolin, Urias and Graterol during the early-to-middle parts of the game. The status of Kenley Jansen, who pitched on consecutive days for Games 5 and 6, is another question.

Video: Braves’ Ozzie Albies commits baserunning blunder in Game 6

Ozzie Albies

The Atlanta Braves committed a baserunning blunder for the second straight game in the NLCS.

Ozzie Albies was tagged out in the top of the sixth inning of Game 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas after showing a lack of awareness. The Braves second baseman was facing Walker Buehler and hit a tapper up the first base line. He thought he was tagged out by first baseman Max Muncy, but Muncy dropped the ball.

Albies would have been safe at first, but he casually rounded his way off the bag at first and started to head towards the dugout. He got tagged out.

Oops.

Dansby Swanson followed with a single, so the Braves would have had a rally going with two on and only one out had Albies avoided the blunder. Instead, Austin Riley struck out to end the inning, and Buehler was bailed out.

That error was every bit as bad as Ozuna’s in Game 5.

Photo: Thomson200/Wikimedia via cc0 1.0

Video: Mookie Betts robs Marcell Ozuna with great catch against wall

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts made a great catch to rob Marcell Ozuna of extra bases in Game 6 of the NLCS at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on Saturday.

The Atlanta Braves were down 3-0 and had a runner on with two outs in the top of the fifth inning against Walker Buehler. Ozuna hit a breaking ball deep to right field. Betts drifted back and timed his leap perfectly to rob Ozuna of a big hit.

What a catch.

The Dodgers have been doing this throughout the postseason. Cody Bellinger in particular has been great with robbing home runs, highlighted by his catch against Fernando Tatis Jr. This time it was Betts making the catch to help keep the Braves off the board.

The Braves entered Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead.

Dusty Baker has funny quote about Astros after Game 6 win

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker had a funny quote about his Houston Astros after the team’s 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the ALCS at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif. on Friday night.

The Astros won their third straight game in the series to send things to a seventh game. They are trying to join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only other MLB team to come back from down 3-0 in a series.

After they won Game 6 to send things to a Game 7, the team’s spirit was praised, leading to Baker’s funny quote.

“You gotta love this team, well some people hate this team, but you gotta respect this team,” Baker said.

So what’s the issue? So many fans and players throughout baseball hate the Astros for cheating. Fans want to see them lose. But at the same time, it’s hard not to respect a team for not quitting down 3-0 and making such a strong comeback.

Framber Valdez allowed just one run and struck out nine over six innings to get the win. The Astros pounded out 11 hits and walked nine times as part of their 7-run effort. Game 7 will be on Saturday with the winner going to the World Series.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

The Will Smith memes were out of control after unusual matchup

Will Smith Spider Man meme

The Will Smith memes were out of control after the matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher and Atlanta Braves pitcher who share the same name.

The Dodgers’ Will Smith got the best of the Braves’ Will Smith by slugging a 3-run home run in the sixth inning to change Game 5 of the NLCS and make it 4-2. The Braves went from possibly leading 3-0 to suddenly being down in the game, and they never came back.

Not only was the Will Smith vs. Will Smith matchup historic, but it also produced plenty of predictable yet funny memes.

Take a look:

The Dodgers won the game 7-3 to send things to a Game 6. Atlanta still has a 3-2 series lead. The fans will get to watch another game between the teams, but may not be treated to the same matchup again. That’s why we have to enjoy the memes when we have the chance.

Marcell Ozuna costs Braves with baserunning error in Game 5

Marcell Ozuna baserunning error

Marcell Ozuna’s baserunning blunder in Game 5 of the NLCS at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas on Friday night cost his Atlanta Braves badly.

The Braves were leading the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 in the bottom of the third. Ozuna singled to lead off the inning against Joe Kelly. Travis d’Arnaud followed with a single, and the two moved to second and third after a groundout by Ozzie Albies.

Then with one out, Dansby Swanson hit a ball to right field. Ozuna went to tag up after Mookie Betts made the catch and was able to beat the throw home for a run to put the Braves up 3-0. But there was one problem.

The Dodgers challenged and said that Ozuna left third base early. They turned out to be right.

Ozuna was found to have left early and ruled out, which wiped the run off the board. That was a huge play.

The Braves would have been up 3-0 if the Dodgers didn’t challenge. Instead, it was 2-0 after the play was overturned. And then Corey Seager hit a home run the next inning to make it 2-1. Couple that with Will Smith’s home run off Will Smith, and those are the big plays in the game.

The Dodgers won Game 5 7-3 to make it a 3-2 series. The Braves need one more win to take the series, while the Dodgers have to win two in a row.