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ALCS Game 1 Thread, October 11, 2020, 6:37 CDT. Astros @ Rays.

The Astros are underdogs again. When will they ever learn?

American League Championship Series Game 1: Tampa Bay Rays v. Houston Astros Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

On paper it says the Rays win this.

But baseball isn’t a board game. It’s played with a bat, a ball and a glove. And you’re never quite sure what those three things together will end up doing on a baseball diamond. Tonight the diamond is located in San Diego’s Petco Park.

Still, you gotta be impressed by the Rays. Their 40-20 record was the best in the AL, while playing in the tough AL East. And they beat a red-hot Yankee team in the DS to get to meet the Astros tonight.

Watch their rookie phenom Randy Arozarena, who in just over 100 PA this season including playoffs, has 10 homers.

And, as always, watch their pitching. It’s good, top to bottom, and depth will be paramount in a seven game in seven days series. Their top three starters are among the best trios in MLB, old friend Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and tonight’s starter, 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell. (4-2, 3.24 ERA)

The Astros have the benefit of an extra day of rest coming in tonight, having beaten the Oakland A’s in only four games. So they start with their best in 2020, Framber Valdez, (5-3, 3.57 ERA) Valdez has always had wicked stuff, but this year he added great command to the mix to become the team ace sans guys like Cole and Verlander to anchor the rotation as in years past.

The Astros come into the game with basically the same roster as they used in the ALDS, except Chas McCormick is off, and pitcher Chase De Jong is sent up to bolster the staff.

Tonight’s lineup is also familiar, with red-hot Carlos Correa, 10-20 in the post-season, hitting fifth. Aledmys Diaz gets the start at DH over Josh Reddick. Here it is.

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Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM Rays - WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM, ESPN Radio, WTMP/WMGG