1:54 AM ET
After his team locked up yet another one-run win by beating the Houston Astros 2-1 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash wouldn’t attribute that success to anything but bullpen depth.
“Our analytical guys might think they’re lucky or fluky, but, no, I don’t think that,” Cash said after the Rays improved to 16-5 in one-run games this season, including the playoffs.
That .762 winning percentage in such contests is the best of any team in baseball history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Is it magic? Is it pixie dust? Is it what in Vegas they call a heater? Or is it simply that the Rays have baseball’s best and deepest bullpen, one good enough to hold the narrowest of leads against baseball’s elite offenses? Based on Sunday’s win, that last theory looks the most plausible.
After the Rays overcame an early 1-0 deficit, Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell exited the game having held the Astros to that one run over five innings, getting the hook because he had burned through 105 pitches.
It was not an unfamiliar development for the Rays. Snell has