ALCS: 4 key takeaways from Game 1 between the Rays and Astros

Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning in game one of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning in game one of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Diego Castillo of the Tampa Bay Ray
Diego Castillo of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts after retiring the side against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning in game one of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 11, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Pitching will decide the ALCS

Framber Valdez continued his hot pitching by going six innings and giving up only two runs.

He gave up four hits, walked four, and struck out eight. Walking four batters is uncharacteristic of Valdez who averaged only two walks per nine innings in the regular season.

One of the walks that came in the fifth inning ended up scoring on a Mike Zunino single.

Besides that and the solo home run to Arozarena, Valdez managed to keep the Rays under control despite the four walks.

Blake Snell put together a solid performance as well. Despite only pitching five innings, he limited the Astros to one run.

The one run came from Jose Altuve’s solo shot in the first inning. Snell gave up six hits, walked two and only managed two strikeouts.

It was not his best performance from the 2018 Cy Young winner but it was enough for the Rays, as the excellent bullpen took over in the sixth.

The Astros had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Diego Castillo was able to induce a double play to end the inning.

In the ninth inning, Altuve came up with a runner on second base with two outs and Castillo closed the game out with a strikeout. Another clutch situation from a pitcher.

The Rays went with John Curtiss, Ryan Thompson, Aaron Loup and Diego Castillo after Blake Snell’s five-inning outing and they did not give up a run.

The Astros bullpen did just as well as the Rays despite losing. Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes and Boorks Raley combined to relieve Valdez and give the Astros a chance. Together, they stuck out five without giving up a run.

That is what playoff baseball is all about, the bullpens will need to be at their best in this series especially for the Rays. I consider the Astros stronger on the offensive side, so the Rays bullpen will be put to the test.

As far as the Astros, the question mark is the rotation and bullpen. We know they can hit, and the Astros proved they are capable of controlling the Rays as they got out of some runners on scoring position situations as well.