Arozarena homers again, Rays beat Astros 2-1 in ALCS opener

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Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Diego Castillo walks off the mount after the eighth inning in Game 1 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

SAN DIEGO – Tampa Bay reliever Diego Castillo played catch Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after throwing 29 pitches in two innings, and told manager Kevin Cash he was good to go for the opener of the AL Championship Series against Houston.

Was he ever.

“It’s always good news when you get thumbs up," Cash said after Castillo got out of an inherited bases-loaded situation with one pitch and finished the five-out save to help the Rays beat the Astros 2-1 Sunday night.

Randy Arozarena homered again at Petco Park, Mike Zunino drove in the go-ahead run and Blake Snell settled down for the win after allowing José Altuve's homer in the first inning.

The play of the game, though, was when Castillo came on with one out in the eighth and threw one pitch, getting Yuli Gurriel to ground into a double play. Aaron Loup had loaded the bases on a hit batter, walk and single.

Castillo had thrown 29 pitches Friday night in the 2-1 win against the New York Yankees that clinched the AL Division Series. Cash didn't know until Sunday afternoon if the burly 26-year-old would be OK to pitch that night.

“I was going to be ready,” Castillo said through a translator. “I knew with the day off yesterday, I came to the stadium prepared. I just came ready to pitch.”

Tampa has leaned on its bullpen all season.