Margot attacks offense as Rays holds back Astros to climb 2-0 in ALCS


SAN DIEGO – Returning to the stadium where he began his Big League career, Manuel Margot of the Tampa Bay Rays had an AL Championship Series breakout game with a three-run homerun and a spectacular catch while falling. over a wall in the right field.

Asked what was most important in the 4-2 win over the Houston Astros, Margot said through a translator, “Definitely the home run. The home run didn’t hurt.

The home run was huge, of course, as it helped the Rays qualify halfway through the World Series with a 2-0 lead in the Top 7 series.

But they will talk about the capture for a long time.

With two strikeouts in second and runners in second and third, Margot followed George Springer’s long foul ball to right field while shielding her face from the sun. He grabbed it by falling on a padded railing atop a wall and landed on a catwalk near the seats down the line at Petco Park.

Margot appeared, smiled and lifted her glove with the ball in it after a 102-foot sprint.

Margot was a bit shaken up but stayed in the game.

“As you approach you don’t really realize how high it is, but it gets a little lower once you get over the wall, so once I start to turn around and realize that it is ‘was a little further away, that’s where I scared little,’ said Margot.

Margot played with the San Diego Padres from the end of the 2016 season until she was traded to Tampa Bay in the offseason. He played one game in right field in 2016 and the rest of his time in San Diego was spent in center.

“To have the ability to know where you’re at, and to be kind of able to say, ‘Forget it, I know I’m going to hit something but I’m going to come in’ and I’m just hanging on to the ball, was really, really. impressive, ”said manager Kevin Cash.

His teammates were delighted with the capture.

“It sold out,” said winner Charlie Morton. “These guys are all together and they are putting their bodies in danger. They’ve been doing this all year. This game was amazing.

Shortstop Willy Adames said Margot “was going with determination. He was going to do whatever it took to make this capture. It was an incredible game he played on the right line, getting into a dangerous place. I’m just happy for him after this circuit. It was amazing. I hope he will continue to help the team win like this.

Margot had a home run on central McCullers 0-1 with two outs in the first. It followed the first of two mistakes by second baseman Jose Altuve on a shallow right-field pitch from Ji-Man Choi. Altuve’s throw hit the ground before entering and exiting the glove of first baseman Yuli Gurriel.

The play was originally judged as a mistake on Gurriel, but the official scorer later blamed the mistake on Altuve. When Gurriel returned to the shelter, he slammed his glove on the bench.

Margot’s big plays made a winner for Morton, 36, who helped Houston win the 2017 World Series, and spoiled an otherwise handsome effort from McCullers, who lost despite an 11 out in seven innings. Three of the four races out of it weren’t deserved.

Margot has had a tough regular season. He was placed on the COVID-19 injured list in August as a precaution after traveling to the Dominican Republic following the death of his father from the virus.

“He was put on the ringer with other family members, but we turned him into our family,” Cash said. “Everyone is really, really supporting him and so happy with what he has accomplished.

Morton improved to 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA in the last two playoffs.

Tampa Bay held on with a tight ninth, when Nick Anderson charged twice. A run scored when Springer hit a jumper at second baseman Brandon Lowe, who walked on base and started a double play. After walking Altuve and Michael Brantley four lengths each, Anderson flew Alex Bregman on first field in the middle of Kevin Kiermaier, one step in front of the warning track.

Game three is Tuesday night, when the Rays send Ryan Yarbrough to Houston’s Jose Urquidy. Because it’s a neutral venue, the AL seeded Rays were the home team in the first two games and Houston will beat last place in Games 3 and 4, and of match 5, if necessary.

Teams with a 2-0 lead won 72 of the top 85 sets of 7.

“It’s not business as usual. Tomorrow is a big deal for us, ”said Carlos Correa, who dominated for the Astros. “You don’t want to lose 0-3 in a series with a great team like the Rays. ”

Manager Dusty Baker said: “It’s very frustrating because all you hear is exit speed, and we had a ton of exit speed today.”

McCullers retired 14 in a row, nine by strikeout, before Mike Zunino hit a 454-foot homerun in the backyard over the fence at center-left for a 4-1 lead in the seventh. It was his third this postseason.

Carlos Correa of ​​Houston scored in roughly the same spot off Pete Fairbanks with a sixth putout, his fifth of the postseason.

The Astros are in the ALCS for the fourth year in a row and are trying to make it to the World Series for the third time in that period. The Rays competed in a Fall Classic. They lost to Philadelphia in 2008.

Morton, who signed with Tampa Bay ahead of the 2019 season, allowed five hits in five shutout innings. He took out five and walked one.

McCullers gave up four hits and four runs, one earned, and didn’t walk.

“I feel like we’re playing good baseball. We just don’t have those successes. There have been a lot of hard hit bullets today directly on people, ”Correa said. “Their defense is to win baseball games for them right now.”


Along with Margot’s spectacular catch, Adames made a nice slippery grounder backhand save by Bregman in the third and threw Ji-Man Choi at first, who lay down to catch him.


There was a moment of silence before the national anthem for Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, who died at his home in Danville at 77 on Sunday. A photo on the dash showed Morgan in an Astros jersey. He played his first nine seasons with Houston before becoming the spark plug for the Cincinnati Big Red Machine. He played with Houston in 1980 towards the end of his career.


Rays: Yarbrough will make his first career start after the season. In the ALDS ‘fourth game against the Yankees, he played five innings for the longest relief appearance in Rays history after the season. He gave Gleyber Torres a two-run homerun.

Astros: Urquidy started Houston’s loss in Game 3 to Oakland in the ALDS, giving up four runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. This should get Zack Greinke to start Game 4, although Baker was not ready to commit to that on Monday. Greinke’s arm hurt.


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