KAZ’S KORNER


After getting “Verlander’d” in the first game and “Cole’d” in Game No. 2, the
Tampa Bay Rays returned home with their backs against the wall and completely turned
the tables on the Houston Astros Monday in Game 3 of the American League Division
Series with a convincing 10-3 victory.
The Rays jumped on the Astros’ No. 3 starter Zack Greinke Monday, pounding
three home runs which accounted for all five runs off the crafty right-hander, who lasted
less than four innings.
In the meantime, Ray’s starter Charlie Morton, who won the deciding game that
put the Astros into the 2017 World Series and then relieved and was the winner in the
seventh game of the Series, enjoyed the early cushion his teammates gave him Monday.
However, Morton threw more than 40 pitches in the first two innings and left the
game after the fifth inning with a very comfortable lead. He surrendered a first-inning
home run to Jose Altuve and toiled in those first two frames.
Houston scored two more runs off the Tampa Bay bullpen on a two-run single by
Yuli Gurriel, but the Astros were unable to get any kind of rally started.
The two teams played yesterday with the Astros planning to pitch Justin
Verlander on just three day’s rest. Manager A.J. Hinch wants to get the best-of-five series
over. And as an ace-in-the-hole, he has Gerrit Cole ready to pitch on three-days rest in
Game 5 if Verlander doesn’t do what he’s done 22 times this year—win.
Verlander was nearly perfect in Friday’s opener at Minute Maid Park as he
pitched seven strong innings, allowing no runs and only two singles and striking out nine
Rays batsmen as the Astros won 6-2.
Not to be outdone, Gerrit Cole, who has been pitching for the Astros all season in
Verlander’s shadow, also allowed no runs in his seven-inning stint, gave up four harmless
hits but struck out a playoff record 15 Tampa Bay batters.
Tampa Bay was able to muster no runs, only six hits and had 24 hitters retired via
the strikeouts route of Verlander and Cole in their combined 14 innings of work Friday
and Saturday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Cole had to sweat out his victory thanks to a sub-par relief performance by ace
closer Roberto Osuna who got the final out on a crucial strikeout in the eighth inning and
attempted to close out the 3-0 game for Cole in the ninth.
But as in many games where the closer tries to pitch more than a single inning,
Osuna gave up two singles, two walks and a wild pitch, getting one out with the run
scoring and then felt the hook of Manager A.J. Hinch, who brought in Will Harris.
Harris, who led the American League with a 1.50 earned run average during the
regular season, got the last two hitters on nine pitches to pick up the save.
Results in the NLDS Monday night saw the St. Louis Cardinals edge Atlanta in
10 innings 5-4 to even the series at 2-2. The same is true with the other NLDS series
where the Washington Nationals downed the LA Dodgers 6-1 to even that series at 2-2.
The New York Yankees were leading Minnesota 3-0 late in the game. If the Yankees
win, they will wait for the winner between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays.

I’m hoping that by the time this newspaper hits the streets, the Houston Astros
will already be ready for the championship round of the ALDS.
KWICKIES…For as many times as Orange’s Earl Thomas has played football
when he was not 100 per cent healthy, it’s no wonder he got all over Baltimore Ravens’
teammate Brandon Williams last week, who’s an All-Pro defensive lineman, when he
practiced all week and then missed the game in which the Cleveland Browns soundly
beat their defense and won 40-25. Earl’s lecture somehow went national and appeared in
Friday’s Houston Chronicle. But being the easy-going person that Earl is, the two
patched up their differences and played Sunday, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-23 in
overtime.
My McNeese Cowboys announced their 2019-20 basketball schedule last week.
The Pokes will visit NCAA Tournament participant Wisconsin Nov. 13 and reigning NIT
champion Texas Nov. 30. The Cowboys will open their season Nov. 6 at Western
Michigan of the MAC.
The top 10- teams in this week’s Associated Press College Football Rankings
remained nearly intact with the top six teams the same—Alabama, Clemson, Georgia,
Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU—with Florida jumping three places to No. 7 and
Wisconsin and Notre Dame each dropping one notch and Penn State moving up two
places to No. 10. Texas remained at No. 11, SMU jumped three places to No. 21 and idle
Texas A&M moved up one spot to No. 24.
JUST BETWEEN US… The Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys went in
different directions during Sunday’s National Football League action. The Texans played
their best game of the season, walloping the Atlanta Falcons 53-32, while the Dallas
Cowboys looked pathetic on run defense, losing the Green Bay Packers 34-24 in a home
game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. Packers’ quarterback Aaron
Rodgers kept his streak alive of never losing in AT&T Stadium. But the real hero in the
victory was Packer running back Aaron Jones who scored four rushing touchdowns,
gaining 109 yards on 19 carries. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott connected on 27 of
44 passes for 463 yards, but suffered three critical interceptions.