SAN DIEGO — The Tampa Bay Rays advanced to the World Series for the second time in franchise history on Saturday night, earning a 4-2 victory against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
The Rays captured their second American League pennant and first since 2008 and now await the winner of the National League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. That series is tied 3-3 after Los Angeles won 3-1 on Saturday evening. Game 7 of the NLCS is Sunday night.
The World Series, a best-of-seven matchup, will begin Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. It will be the first World Series to be played at a neutral site.
In their only other trip to the World Series, the Rays lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rays had jumped out to a 3-0 series lead against the defending American League champions, but Houston, which won pennants in 2017 and 2019, charged back with three consecutive wins. Houston was trying to duplicate Boston’s feat of winning a seven-game series after dropping the first three. The Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
Saturday night at San Diego’s Petco Park, Randy Arozarena gave the Rays an early 2-0 lead. Arozarena, who was named the MVP of the ALCS, hit a one-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., who grew up in Tampa, Florida, and was born five years before the Tampa Bay franchise played its first-ever game. It was Arozarena’s fourth home run of the ALCS and seventh of the postseason. The 25-year-old outfielder had seven homers in 23 games during the regular season.
Mike Zunino made it 3-0 in the second with a long solo homer to left field off McCullers.
Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton, meanwhile, gave up a first-inning single and then retired 14 straight batters until allowing a sixth-inning walk to Martin Maldonado.
The Rays made it 4-0 in the sixth when Zunino hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
The Astros loaded the bases in the eighth inning, and Carlos Correa cut the lead in half with a two-run single.