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SportsPulse: The Tampa Bay Rays dispatched the New York Yankees and can now face the Houston Astros in an ALCS which guarantees to characteristic a large number of fireplace energy.

USA TODAY

SAN DIEGO — Jose Altuve, one of the most recreation’s largest avid gamers, stood on my own at the infield dust Tuesday night time, staring vacantly to the outfield in utter disbelief.

Right here he’s, a former MVP, six-time All-Superstar, five-time Silver Slugger, three-time batting champion, and Gold Glove winner, melting down for all the global to peer on this American League Championship Collection.

The Houston Astros are one defeat clear of going house for the wintry weather, dropping once more to the Tampa Bay Rays, Five-2, and Altuve’s arm is in large part answerable for two of the defeats.

“It’s tricky to peer this going down to this kind of nice participant and this kind of nice man …’’  Astros supervisor Dusty Baker stated. “It hurts us all to peer him hurting.’’

Altuve did not make a throwing error within the common season however in a span 24 hours, made 3, main to 5 runs, with the Rays now main the best-of-seven sequence, Three-Zero.

There was just one group in baseball historical past to get better from a Three-Zero deficit, however the 2020 Astros aren’t the 2004 Boston Pink Sox.

“It’s a steep mountain to climb,’’ Baker stated, “but it surely’s now not inconceivable. We were given to tighten our belts, placed on our big-boy pants, and are available out preventing.’’

Realistically, this sequence is all over the place, and Altuve – who hit the walk-off homer to ship the Astros to the International Collection a 12 months in the past – will now must a protracted wintry weather to procedure what came about. He declined to be interviewed after the sport.

“No person feels worse than Jose,’’ Baker stated, “as a result of he’s taking it very critically, and he’s taking it to center. We’re giving him all the improve we will. He’s one among ours.’’

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The Astros had been in keep an eye on of this recreation after Altuve’s homer within the first inning, however alongside got here the 6th, and the mistake that can hang-out him till spring coaching, possibly longer.

Randy Arozarena led off the 6th inning with a unmarried, and the Astros went into their customary shift for left-handed hitter Brandon Lowe. It seemed adore it labored to perfection. Lowe hit a regimen floor ball to Altuve that used to be a tailored double play.

Altuve fielded it cleanly, flipped it against shortstop Carlos Correa, just for the throw to skip two toes in entrance of Correa, and into left box. Two out and no one on become two on and no outs.

Astros supervisor Dusty Baker went to the mound to take away shaken Jose Urquidy, who were pitching a gem, and all the infield went to the mound – with the exception of for one guy.

Altuve stood on my own, not able to look at. His teammates came to visit right through reliever Enoli Paredes’ warmup pitches, seeking to console him.

“Stay your head up, we’ve nonetheless were given a large number of recreation left,’’ Correa informed him. “We’re going to win this recreation.’’

Altuve didn’t say a phrase, merely nodded his head.

“I blame myself for that error as neatly,’’ Correa stated, “as a result of I believe like I make that pick out 9 occasions out of 10, and I wasn’t in a position to pick out my group up on that one.’’

The Rays, smelling blood, took complete merit, and by the point the inning ended, had scored 5 runs, breaking the sport open, and the sequence.

“Boy,’’ Baker stated, “only a nightmare inning.’’

Altuve had an opportunity to redeem himself within the 9th, representing the tying run with two on and one out, handiest to strike out swinging in opposition to Diego Castillo.

Jose Altuve reacts after making an error in the sixth.

Jose Altuve reacts after making an error within the 6th. (Picture: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports activities)

Even prior to the sport, Baker feared that Altuve used to be in his personal head.

“You’re simply hoping he is not getting the yips,’’ Baker stated. “Invariably, they arrive in bunches. The whole thing is available in bunches – mistakes, hits, homers, the entirety. I simply informed him to flush it.”

If the loss wasn’t painful sufficient for the Astros, they needed to watch the Rays placed on some other defensive show off of their very own.

The highlights started within the first inning when Rays middle fielder Kevin Kiermaier robbed Alex Bregman on the wall. 

Within the t inning, the Astros had two runners on, two outs, when Carlos Correa coated a ball to right-center box. Kiermaier sprinted 52 toes, dove, and together with his glove stretched out in entrance of him, stuck the ball as he hit the bottom, saving no less than a run – if now not two.

Left fielder Randy Arozarena, shortstop Wily Adames, Joey Wendle, Hunter Renfroe and pitcher John Curtiss all were given in into the act prior to the night time used to be over.

“They play the sport the precise approach,’’ Correa stated. “They hustle. They play onerous. They usually play nice protection. That’s a recipe to win video games.’’

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