The Tampa Bay Rays took the first game of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, shutting them out 5-0 on the strength of a great outing by pitcher Shane McClanahan and an amazing showing by the relief corps.
The game was always controlled by the Rays, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t exciting moments.
Here are the three top moments of Tampa’s triumph.
3. Arozarena’s Postseason Power Binge Continues
With the game 3-0 in favor of Tampa Bay in the bottom of the fifth inning, a familiar hero appeared.
Randy Arozarena ripped a 397-foot home run to give the Rays a commanding 4-0 lead and started putting some ground between both teams.
It was Arozarena’s first homer of the postseason, but his 11th overall in October.
As you may recall, Randy went bananas last season during the playoffs, belting 10 dingers in the Rays’ run that ended in the sixth game of the World Series.
He was a truly unstoppable machine, and it appears he wants to pick things right where he left them this time around.
The record holder is Manny Ramirez, with 29.
He still has a lot of ground to cover to catch Ramirez, but that’s a debate for another day.
For now, the Rays need him to be good and consistent and he is giving them just that.
2. Franco Rips RBI Double In First Inning
The Rays were always viewed as the favorites to advance, but everything is always settled on the field: games need to be played, and Tampa needs to validate those thoughts.
They left no doubt about their intentions in the first inning.
After Arozarena walked, rookie Wander Franco laced a run-scoring double to center field to put the game 1-0 at Tropicana Field.
Wander Franco with a RBI double in his first postseason AB to give the Rays a early 1-0 lead pic.twitter.com/RiXiZuxqrV
— Mismatch (@MismatchSports) October 8, 2021
With no outs on the scoreboard yet, the Rays were already up 1-0.
They ended up giving McClanahan a 2-0 lead before he even picked up the ball, which was huge for their winning chances.
Franco, who impressed this season as one of the most promising prospects in organized baseball, is going to be a menace for the Red Sox all series long.
1. Arozarena Steals Home
With Tampa winning 4-0, Arozarena once again worked a walk.
He moved to third base on another Franco double.
Lefty Josh Taylor was on the mound, and Arozarena’s next move was going to be incredible.
He timed the pitcher’s slow delivery to perfection, and took off to home base.
By the time Taylor realized the runner was trying to steal home, Arozarena was very near the base.
He slid and beat an off-balance throw by Taylor, and was called safe by the home plate umpire.
Arozarena steals home 🔥🔥
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 8, 2021
Just like that, Arozarena surprised in yet another way: it’s not just the postseason homer binge, but he can also offer exciting, thrilling speed plays like stealing home.
Fans went crazy after seeing the scenes at Tropicana Field, and the Twitterverse posted videos, impressions, and even memes.
Arozarena, when it comes to playoff baseball, is just on another level.