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Stellar defense propels Rays to within one win of World Series berth

The Tampa Bay Rays' superb defense was on full display in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier makes a leaping catch on a fly ball by Houston Astros Alex Bregman during the first inning in Game 3 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO — The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship behind a stellar defensive effort from across the diamond.

And so, the Rays find themselves within one win of a World Series berth. But it's hard to appreciate where the team is now without first acknowledging where they've been.

Let's go back, first, to 2019.

The Rays finished with 96 wins and reached the postseason for the first time since 2013. After defeating Oakland in the AL Wild Card Series, Tampa Bay would then face the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series, a team coming off of 107 regular-season wins.

RELATED: Rays can take commanding lead with Game 3 tonight

Beating Houston was not going to be a casual Sunday stroll down Bayshore Boulevard. The Astros were the best team in baseball and proved their talent by defeating Tampa Bay in the ALDS in five games.

The Rays were so close, yet so far away.

Now, let's go back even further to 2008.

Old friends like Evan Longoria, Matt Garza, James Shields and David Price propelled the Rays to their first World Series in franchise history. The Rays were the second-best team in the AL that year. 2008 appeared to be "the year."

Until it wasn't.

The Philadelphia Phillies ultimately won it all in 2008, beating Tampa Bay in just five games.

Now, back to the present day. The Rays are one victory away from their first World Series appearance in over a decade against the team that ousted them from the playoffs just last year.

The redemption story is still being written, so how will it finish?

A potentially decisive Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:40 p.m.

12:43 a.m.

The Rays hold on to the lead in the 9th and they now find themselves with a 3-0 ALCS advantage!

12:10 a.m.

The Rays escape the 8th as the Astros leave the bases loaded. Renfroe adds yet another highlight-reel catch for the Rays tonight.

11:59 p.m.

Carlos Correa reaches on an infield single and the Astros now have the bases loaded in the 8th with one out. The Rays go to their bullpen again, 

11:59 p.m.

Ryan Thompson gets Alex Bregman to strike out swinging. One out in the 8th.

11:55 p.m.

Brantley singles and the Astros now have two on with nobody out in the bottom of the 8th.

11:50 p.m.

The Astros get the lead man on in the bottom of the 8th as the Rays return to the bullpen. Michael Brantley is up for Houston.

11:27 p.m.

Hunter Renfroe makes an incredible diving catch in left field as the Rays continue to showcase their incredible defense.

11:29 p.m.

It's 7th inning stretch time. Rays still lead 5-2.

11:10 p.m.

The Astros answer back. Solo shot from Michael Brantley off of Yarbrough. Rays now go to to their bullpen. It's 5-2 in the 6th.

10:59 p.m.

Hunter Renfroe comes through with a bloop into right field. Two score and it's now 5-1 in the 6th.

10:55 p.m.

Astros pitcher Enoli Paredes hits Kiermaier to load the bases then Adames to bring in a run. It's now 3-1. 

10:47 p.m.

The Rays take the lead on a two-RBI single by Joey Wendle! It's 2-1 Rays!

10:46 p.m.

Bases are now loaded.

10:40 p.m.

The Rays have their best chance of the night right now to get on the board. They have men on first and second with nobody out. 

9:57 p.m.

Kremaier comes up with yet another phenomenal defensive play in center field, this time diving and making the catch in short center field.

9:13 p.m.

The Rays end up stranding the bases loaded and it remains 1-0 Astros in the 2nd.

9:01 p.m.

Kiermaier now finds himself at the plate with runners on the corners and one man out in the top of the second. 

8:55 p.m.

Kevin Kiermaier makes an outstanding leaping catch in deep center field to end the first inning.

8:51 p.m.

Jose Altuve gets tonight's scoring going with a solo homer off of Ryan Yarbrough. It's 1-0 Astros in the first.

8:40 p.m.

Game 3 is underway!

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