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Randy Arozarena Stars as Rays Shut Out Red Sox to Take Game 1 of ALDS

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVOctober 8, 2021

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

In a battle between division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays drew first blood.

The American League's No. 1 seed earned a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday at Tropicana Field in the AL Division Series.

The Rays took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double from Wander Franco and an RBI single by Yandy Diaz. Nelson Cruz made it a 3-0 game when he hit one of the stadium's catwalks.

MLB @MLB

18 career <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a> homers for <a href="https://twitter.com/ncboomstick23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ncboomstick23</a> 💪 <a href="https://t.co/79DAlgysI0">pic.twitter.com/79DAlgysI0</a>

Randy Arozarena continued his quest to wrest the title of "Mr. October" away from Reggie Jackson. He scored three runs, the last of which came on a steal of home in the seventh inning.

MLB @MLB

Randy Arozarena is the first player to steal home in a <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a> game since 2016 😳 <a href="https://t.co/a9Qvf8Bgfg">pic.twitter.com/a9Qvf8Bgfg</a>

The Red Sox finished with nine hits—three more than the Rays—but went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.


Notable Performers

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Shane McClanahan, SP, Rays: 5.0 innings pitched, five hits, three strikeouts

Randy Arozarena, LF, Rays: 1-for-2, three runs, one home run, one RBI, two walks

Wander Franco, SS, Rays: 2-for-4, one run, one double, one RBI

Nick Pivetta, RP, Red Sox: 4.2 innings, four hits, three earned runs, two walks, four strikeouts


McClanahan Passes First Postseason Test

Shane McClanahan had a solid rookie season, finishing 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 3.31 FIP in 25 appearances, per Baseball Reference. Playoff baseball can be a different animal, though.

The left-hander wasn't overawed by the occasion, and that was apparent in the first inning as he hit triple digits on the radar gun to punch out Rafael Devers.

MLB @MLB

💯 to end the first.<br><br>Shane McClanahan is LOCKED IN. <a href="https://t.co/A81zX2D0QP">pic.twitter.com/A81zX2D0QP</a>

With the Rays up three runs, the Red Sox were knocking on the door in the fifth inning. Christian Arroyo singled with one out, and McClanahan's pitch count was climbing toward the 80s, a number he hit only 12 times in the regular season.

Enrique Hernandez popped out to first and Kyle Schwarber grounded into a fielder's choice as Tampa Bay avoided any damage. That was McClanahan's final inning in a strong outing.

J.P. Hoornstra @jphoornstra

Rue the day your team has to face this McClanahan fellow.

Jason Catania @JayCat11

Shane McClanahan is only the 10th pitcher in AL/NL history to throw 5+ scoreless innings without a walk in his first career postseason start.<br><br>At 24 years and 162 days old, he's the YOUNGEST to do so, ahead of ...<br><br>Christy Mathewson, who was 25 years and 58 days in 1905 WS G1!!!

Arozarena was the hero for Tampa Bay last playoffs when it captured its second AL pennant. He had a .377/.442/.831 slash line and 10 home runs in 20 games.

Based on Thursday night, Arozarena may be on his way to another big postseason. He took Nick Pivetta deep in the fifth inning.

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

OH MY RANDY JUST DESTROYED THAT BALL <a href="https://t.co/PimMPemvrb">pic.twitter.com/PimMPemvrb</a>

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

Randy Arozarena was made for October. <a href="https://t.co/azzyoNatkf">pic.twitter.com/azzyoNatkf</a>

Sarah Langs @SlangsOnSports

Most HR in 19-game span, postseason history:<br><br>1923-32 Babe Ruth: 12<br>2020-21 Randy Arozarena: 11<br>2004-06 Carlos Beltrán: 11<br>1997-2001 Jim Thome: 11 (2 overlapping spans)<br>1926-32 Babe Ruth: 11

Stealing home was the cherry on top. The 26-year-old clearly flips an internal switch when the calendar changes over to October. 

Looking at the bigger picture, a quality start, a collective relief effort and timely hitting by Arozarena like the Rays got is a recipe for another trip to the World Series.


Red Sox Missing Martinez

Although Red Sox manager Alex Cora included J.D. Martinez on the ALDS roster despite his sprained left ankle, it's clear the four-time All-Star isn't at 100 percent. Cora said his role would be limited to pinch-hitting duties for at least Game 1.  

Boston didn't miss Martinez much in the AL Wild Card Game thanks to early home runs by Schwarber and Xander Bogaerts. The Sox could've used his power in the middle of the lineup in Game 1 because it's difficult to string singles together against the Rays' excellent defense.

Zachary D. Rymer @zachrymer

Pretty much every batted ball the Red Sox have tonight has been a hard one. But nothing to show for it, because of bad luck and downright excellent defensive positioning.

Ian Browne @IanMBrowne

The Red Sox haven't had consecutive hits tonight. Only consecutive batters to reach base included an error by the Rays.

Matthew Kory @mattymatty2000

Red Sox have hit the ball fine tonight. Not great, no no-doubters, but should have more on the board than they do. The Rays are just so good defensively and if you're not hitting the ball over the wall (or off the stupid catwalk F the Trop) they're gonna make a play on it.

The eighth inning summed up the Red Sox's struggles. Bogaerts hit a fly ball off the catwalk that fell in for a single to load the bases with one out. Devers, the team leader in homers and RBI, struck out on four pitches, and Hunter Renfroe fouled out to end the inning.


What's Next?

Tropicana Field will host Game 2 on Friday at 7:02 p.m. ET. Shane Baz is the scheduled starter for Tampa Bay, and Chris Sale will get the nod for Boston.

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