ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Randy Arozarena is off and working in October once more.
The rookie showstopper turned into the primary participant to hit a house run and thieve house in a postseason sport, propelling the Tampa Bay Rays to a Five-Zero victory over the Boston Purple Sox of their AL Department Sequence opener Thursday night time.
The breakout big name of October remaining yr, Arozarena made a panoramic sprint to the plate for the primary immediately thieve of house within the postseason since Jackie Robinson did it for the Brooklyn Dodgers in opposition to Yogi Berra and the New York Yankees within the 1955 Global Sequence, in line with the FS1 broadcast.
“I spotted the pitcher wasn’t in point of fact maintaining his consideration to me. So I used to be in a position to take a large sufficient lead and have the ability to take that base,” Arozarena mentioned via a translator. “That’s the primary time I’ve ever stolen house.”
Nelson Cruz additionally homered — off a Tropicana Box catwalk — and rookie Shane McClanahan pitched 5 stellar innings for the AL East champions. Having a look relaxed and assured all night time, a number of Rays even snacked on popcorn within the dugout right through the sport.
Sport 2 within the best-of-five sequence is Friday night time, with Chris Sale scheduled to start out for Boston in opposition to rookie Shane Baz.
Wander Franco additionally sparkled in his playoff debut, turning in an early RBI double that despatched the fast Arozarena house from first base to get the protecting AL champs off to a snappy get started.
Arozarena, a 26-year-old Cuban who nonetheless qualifies as a rookie regardless of atmosphere postseason information with 10 homers and 29 hits in 20 video games a yr in the past, capped every other exhilarating efficiency through stealing house in opposition to lefty reliever Josh Taylor to make it Five-Zero within the 7th.
“I believe it simply occurs. You realize, I simply center of attention slightly bit extra,” Arozarena mentioned about his postseason prowess. “Thankfully, it’s taking place in October. That suggests it’s nearer to the Global Sequence.”
It used to be the primary thieve of house of any sort in a playoff sport since Javier Báez did it for the Chicago Cubs in opposition to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sport 1 of the 2016 NLCS.
Báez took a large lead off 3rd base, drawing a pickoff strive from catcher Carlos Ruiz. Once Ruiz let cross of the ball, Baez scampered house and beat an off-balance throw from 3rd baseman Justin Turner to the plate.
Marquis Grissom stole house for Cleveland to finish Sport Three of the 1997 ALCS in opposition to Baltimore when Omar Vizquel neglected a squeeze bunt and the ball deflected off the catcher’s mitt.
“This sport is all about historical past, and any time you might be hanging your title in the ones classes like Randy has, I have by no means observed the rest adore it in 2020, and with a bit of luck I’m going to say that right here on the finish of 2021,” Tampa Bay supervisor Kevin Money mentioned.
With probably the most lowest payrolls in baseball and a roster missing family names, the Rays are within the playoffs for a 3rd immediately yr after profitable a franchise-record 100 video games and their moment consecutive AL East identify.
If now not for Arozarena’s flashy, crowd-pleasing play and the hitting of the 20-year-old Franco, who used to be promoted to the majors in June, then McClanahan’s pitching might neatly were the tale of the night time.
The 24-year-old lefty, who made his giant league debut right through Tampa Bay’s run to remaining yr’s Global Sequence, scattered 5 hits and struck out 3 in his first occupation playoff get started.
McClanahan felt excellent about his time out, however used to be a lot more inspired with Arozarena.
“I mentioned it thrice this night: That is were given to be the Rookie of the 12 months. I do not believe it is even a contest in my thoughts,” the pitcher mentioned. “What that man does each unmarried day on a baseball area is so particular.”
Cruz, received in July so as to add a potent bat to the center of the lineup, hit his 18th occupation postseason homer for a Three-Zero lead within the 3rd. Arozarena additionally went deep in opposition to right-hander Nick Pivetta with the bases empty within the 5th for his 11th homer in 21 occupation postseason video games.
The Purple Sox, in the meantime, wasted alternatives to get again within the sport, together with the 8th inning after they loaded the bases with one out in opposition to J.P. Feyereisen. He escaped through putting out Rafael Devers and getting Hunter Renfroe to foul out.
“We had site visitors in the market, and we simply did not money in,” Boston supervisor Alex Cora mentioned.
Purple Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez took the loss, permitting two runs, two hits and strolling two in 1 2/Three innings. Pivetta spared Cora from having to burn up the bullpen through running four 2/Three innings in reduction.
Franco chased Pivetta along with his moment double of the night time, an opposite-field hit to left that despatched Arozarena scampering from first to 3rd within the 7th. 4 pitches later, Arozarena took good thing about Taylor now not being attentive to him and took off for the plate.
“It stuck everyone through wonder,” Cora mentioned. “It’s a really perfect baseball play. He had a really perfect 3-hitter.”
The victory prolonged Tampa Bay’s fresh mastery of the Purple Sox.
The Rays misplaced 4 immediately to Boston earlier than profitable 11 of the overall 15 conferences right through the common season. They usually wasted no time leaping on Rodriguez this time, the use of their velocity to show a leadoff stroll to Arozarena, Franco’s double to left-center and Yandy Diaz’s two-out infield unmarried into a snappy 2-Zero lead.
Cruz homered off probably the most catwalks that give a boost to the roof at Tropicana Box, atmosphere off every other thunderous ovation from a yellow towel-waving sellout crowd of 27,419 that incorporated school basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a Rays season-ticket holder who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The veteran slugger introduced a top force towards left-center, and the ball bounded again into the sphere of play after hitting a catwalk. By way of stadium rule, it used to be a house run.
“I had no clue what used to be happening,” Cruz mentioned. “I used to be staring at the outfielders. I used to be like, what took place? Simply thank God it used to be a homer.”
AGE IS JUST A NUMBER
Franco and Cruz are the 2 largest additions to this yr’s Tampa Bay offense, which ranked moment within the majors with 857 runs. With the 20-year-old shortstop and 41-year-old slugger within the lineup, the Rays scored 263 runs in 43 video games.
The duo turned into the second one set of teammates to every have successful in a postseason sport when one participant used to be 20 or more youthful and the opposite used to be no less than 40. They joined Manny Machado and Jim Thome, who did it in 2012 for the Baltimore Orioles, in line with ESPN.
Cruz, in the meantime, turned into the second-oldest participant to homer within the postseason after 43-year-old Julio Franco in 2001.
Baz, an Olympic silver medalist who started the season in Double-A and made his primary league debut in past due September, will get started Sport 2 for the Rays.
The Purple Sox, who beat the rival Yankees at house within the AL wild-card sport to advance to the ALDS, will counter with Sale, who returned from Tommy John surgical operation in mid-August and went Five-1 with a three.16 ERA over 9 begins down the stretch.
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