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Three takeaways from Rays' Game 4 victory against Astros

Sporting News logo Sporting News 2019-10-09 Ameer Tyree

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Another division series has been extended to five games, as Tampa Bay topped Houston 4-1 Tuesday at Tropicana Field in the ALDS.

BOX SCORE:  RAYS 4, ASTROS 1

The Astros have what's probably MLB's best pitching rotation, but its poor management of that led to its downfall.

Here are three takeaways from the Rays' big win

Starting Justin Verlander backfired for the Astros

Justin Verlander pushed for Houston to start him in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on three days rest, but he struggled with command and movement against Tampa Bay. He consistently sailed balls high and his sliders simply weren't sliding. When you throw as many balls right down the pipe as Verlander did, you're bound to get punished.

The ace's first inning was drawn out, as he forked up a home run, allowed three scores, and threw 32 pitches. Although the 36-year-old ace held the Rays scoreless in the second inning, he gave up a second home run in the fourth inning before being pulled. He finished after throwing 84 pitches in 3 2/3 innings of work.

Verlander entered Tuesday with an 8-0 career record and 2.14 ERA in 12 ALDS appearances but wasn't in peak form this time around. That really hurt his team.

Nearly all Rays' batters contributed on offense

Tampa Bay totaled 13 hits against Houston's pitching from eight of its 10 batters. Only Austin Meadows and Ji-Man Choi were held hitless, but Choi managed to get on base by being walked three times.

Avisail Garcia had three hits and Tommy Pham added three. Pham and Willy Adames both hit home runs and accounted for the Rays' four RBIs alongside Joey Wendle and Travis D'Arnaud.

Tampa Bay's lineup was good from top to bottom at the plate and made the most of the opportunities it got.

Don't underestimate Tampa Bay's pitching

Houston had one of the most dynamic offenses in baseball, as it scored the third-most runs in MLB (920) in 2019. But the Rays were able to hold the Astros to their lowest run total of the postseason.

Tampa Bay's pitching performance was a group effort that utilized six different arms. Those arms combined for eight strikeouts and only allowed a score on Robinson Chirinos' solo shot in the eighth inning. The Rays' bullpen will certainly be important in Game 5 at Minute Maid Park.

Related slideshow: Best of the 2019 MLB postseason (Provided by imagn)

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