Morton Steady, Rays Blast Four Homers To Extend Season Another Day

Rays Four Homers Lead To 10-3 Win Over Astros

For just the third time in franchise history, and the first time at Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays hit four homers in a postseason game en route to a 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros.

Kevin Kiermaier delivered a three run homer in the 2nd inning, Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe, and Willy Adames added solo shots in the third, fourth, and sixth innings respectively.

With the win, Tampa Bay staves off elimination for at least one more day and will host the Houston Astros on Tuesday looking to tie the series at two games apiece.

The games start time is dependent on whether or not the New York Yankees sweep the Minnesota Twins with a victory on Tuesday evening. If the Twins win, the Rays and Astros will play at 4:15 pm. If the Yankees win, then the Rays and Astros will play at 7:05 pm.

Regardless of the first pitch time, Justin Verlander will take the ball for the Astros and Diego Castillo will open for the Rays in what amounts to a bullpen day.

Charlie Morton picks up the win for Tampa Bay. He allowed a solo homer to Jose Altuve in the first inning, the first homer he’s allowed in the first inning all season, but settled in after a 32-pitch first working four scoreless frames after. In five innings Morton allowed just one earned run on three hit while striking out nine and walking two.

His nine strikeouts equal the most in franchise history along with Matt Garza who struck out nine Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS.

Morton imporves to 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA (2ER/19IP) over four career starts in elimination games.

Morton has had a knack for coming up big for the Rays when they need it and he did that again today.

“Outstanding. Certainly we weren’t expecting that after the first two innings, he had 50-plus pitches.” Kevin Cash said. “They had good at-bats, but take away the Altuve home run and them putting pressure on him, he still got his strikeouts. But similar to the Oakland start, really turned it up when he had to and got efficient for us.”

The bullpen followed Morton to the mound and Chaz Roe (0.2IP, 2ER), Brendan McKay (0.1IP), Oliver Drake (2IP), and Colin Poche (1IP) combined for four innings allowing just two earned runs on four hits while striking out four and walking none.

The Rays have never been swept in a postseason series and improve to 7-4 all-time when facing elimination. They are trying to be the third team, along with the 2012 Giants and 1981 Dodgers to lose the first two games of a Division Series and go on to win the World Series.

Greinke, Astros Pitchers Roughed Up:

Zack Greinke allowed three homers and was charged with six earned runs in 3.2-innings of work on five hits while striking out five and walking one. He threw just 61 pitches with 41 for strikes. It was shortest postseason start of his career and the three homers allowed tied his season high which came in the 2011 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks when he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. He is the first Astro pitcher to allow three homers in a postseason game.

Between the regular season and postseason with the Astros is 0-1 with a 10.61 ERA (11ER/9.1(P) in two starts against the Rays.

Hector Rondon, Wade Miley, Joe Smith, and Josh James followed Greinke to the mound and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out two and walking two.

Altuve Homers In First:

Jose Altuve put the Astros up 1-0 belting a solo homer on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the first inning. The ball left the bat at 103.6 miles per hour, a launch angle of 29 degrees, and traveled 409 feet. It was the 10th postseason homer of Altuve’s career. The homer given up by Charlie Morton was the first home run he’s allowed in the first inning this season.

Houston has now homered in 28 consecutive games dating back to their final 25 regular season games. It’s the second longest streak in Major League history behind only the New York Yankees who earlier this season homered in 31 consecutive games from May 26th through June 30th.

KK Puts Rays On Top With Homer:

Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier hits a 3-run home run against the Houston Astros in the second inning of Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)

Avisail Garcia got the Rays first hit delivering a 1-out single and moved to second on Brandon Lowe’s groundout to second. Greinke hit Travis d’Arnaud for Kevin Kiermaier who blasted a 3-run homer to right center to give the Rays a 3-1 lead, their first lead of the series.

The ball left the bat at 104.2 mph at a launch angle of 31-degrees and traveled 407 feet. It was Kiermaier’s first postseason homer of his career.

“That really got it going before the game and then Altuve comes up, does what he does.” Cash said. “Doesn’t quiet us down. But for us to, you know, get a lead and, albeit a three-run homer was huge. Then seemed like we kind of fed off that momentum right there for multiple innings.” 

Kiermaier has said on numerous times that the Rays are a better team when playing with a lead. “For us to put three runs on the board, take a 3-1 lead early in the game, that felt great.” He said. “That was huge for us. After that, just, Hey, Charlie Morton, go do your thing, go do what you do, and he did just that. Our bullpen did a great job as well.”

Diaz Departs In Second:

Yandy Diaz was unable to hit in the second inning and was replaced by pinch hitter Matt Duffy whose excuse me swing back to Zack Greinke ended the inning. It was announced that Diaz departed the game with a sore left foot.

Choi To The World: Rays Extend Lead In Third

Tampa Bay Rays’ Ji-Man Choi hits a home run against the Houston Astros in the third inning during Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)

Ji-Man Choi hit his first postseason homer with 2-out in the bottom of the third to extend the Rays lead 4-1. The ball left the bat at 108.3 mph at a launch angle of 22 degrees and traveled 403 feet. It was his 7th homer in his last 17 games.

Rays Break It Open In Fourth:

Tampa Bay Rays’ Brandon Lowe, right, celebrates his solo home run against the Houston Astros with Kevin Kiermaier, left, in the fourth inning during Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Brandon Lowe delivered an opposite field homer to lead off the home half of the fourth inning to extend the Rays lead to 5-1. The ball left the bat at 101.8 mph at a launch angle of 26 degrees and traveled 393 feet. It was Lowe’s first postseason homer of his career.

Greinke retired the next two batters before walking Willy Adames and being replaced with Hector Rondon. Rondon allowed a single to Matt Duffy, the only batter he faced. Lefty Wade Miley came in to face the left-handed hitting Meadows who delivered a 2-RBI double to put the Rays on top 7-1. Tommy Pham followed with an RBI single to score Meadows and put the Rays ahead 8-1.

Astros Cut Into Lead In Sixth:

Chaz Roe entered the game in the top of the sixth inning and allowed a leadoff single to Alex Bregman, a double to Yordan Alvarez, and a 2-RBI single to Yuli Gurriel cutting the Rays lead to 8-3.

Roe retired the next two batters but with the left handed hitting Josh Reddick due up, Kevin Cash went to the lefty Brendan McKay. A.J. Hinch countered by pinch hitting the right handed hitting Aledmys Diaz for Reddick. McKay retired him on a fly out to right to end the sixth.

Rays Respond In Home Half Of Sixth:

Tampa Bay Rays’ Willy Adames rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Willy Adames launched a solo homer to left to open the home half of the sixth to push their lead to 9-3. The ball left the bat at 106.5 miles per hour at 29 degrees and traveled 428 feet. It is the first postseason homer of Willy Adames career.

Error Helps Rays Tack On In Seventh:

Avisail Garcia reached first on a throwing error by Alex Bregman, moved to third on a single by Brandon Lowe, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis d’Arnaud giving the Rays a 10-3 lead.

I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.