Catcher Mike Zunino hugs Charlie Morton following the Tampa Bay Rays’ 4-2 win. With the victory, the Rays took the ALCS from the Houston Astros at Petco Park. Photo credit: Screen shot, TBS

Powered by the arm of starter Charlie Morton, the Tampa Bay Rays stopped the Houston Astros’ push for a historic comeback, winning Game 7 of the American League Championship Series Saturday.

With the 4-2 victory, the Rays took the series four games to three and won the right to represent the AL in the World Series, which begins Tuesday.

“We’re AL champs, fellas,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told his team during the post-game trophy ceremony. “Simple as that.”

The Rays won the first three games of the series at Petco Park, only to drop the next three, opening the door for the Astros to replicate the feat of the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who came back from a 3-0 ALCS deficit to eliminate the New York Yankees.

The Rays got off to a fast start, with a two-run home run from left fielder Randy Arozarena – with ex-Padre Manuel Margot aboard, after being hit by a pitch. Catcher Mike Zunino followed with a solo homer in the second, for a 3-0 Rays lead.

Zunino added an RBI in the sixth on a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Morton cruised, retiring 14 Astros in a row through the top of the sixth inning. He gave up just two hits, struck out six and walked one.

The Astros broke through in the eighth, loading the bases for shortstop Carlos Correa. He cut the Rays’ lead in half, driving in Aledmys Diaz and Jose Altuve with a two-out single to right. Alex Bregman, though, swung wildly to strike out and end the inning.

The Astros put a man on in the ninth, but Diaz flew out to Margot, in right field, to end the game.

Astros manager Dusty Baker said his team persevered after being underdogs this postseason, particularly in their clashes with the Oakland A’s and the Rays.

“It’s frustrating, but these guys fought to the every end,” he said.

Morton earned the win, while Pete Fairbanks logged the save. Lance McCullers Jr. took the loss. In addition, Arozarena received the series MVP award.

With the end to the ALCS, the curtain falls on postseason baseball at Petco Park. Attention shifts now to Arlington, TX, where the Rays, who last appeared in the World Series in 2008, will face either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers.

Game 7 in the National League Championship Series takes place at 5:15 p.m. Sunday, airing on Fox.

The World Series begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Globe Life Field and also will air on Fox.

– Staff reports

Show comments