The Tampa Bay Rays have taken a 3-0 series lead on the Astros in the ALCS, and they would not be in this position without their spectacular defense.

Last night in Game 3, they put on an absolute defensive clinic. 

Kevin Kiermaier got things started in the first inning, crashing into the center field wall to take extra bases away from Alex Bregman.

Kiermaier made another spectacular play in the 3rd.  The Astros had two runners on and were already up 1-0, and Kiermaier’s diving catch ended the inning.

Willy Adames made a fine play deep in the hole at shortstop to end the 5th:

Relief pitcher John Curtiss got the first out of the 7th inning by making this exceptional play coming off the mound:

You don’t see pitchers make plays like that very often.

Later in the inning with a runner on, George Springer hit one out to right field and Hunter Renfroe got in on the fun:

In the 8th with the bases loaded, Renfroe made another impressive grab to save at least one run, maybe more:

The Rays defense has been an integral part to their postseason success so far, and last night continued the theme.  In Game 2, Manuel Margot made one of the best catches you will ever see:

The Rays took Game 3 by a score of 5-2, and now have a commanding 3-0 series lead.  They are one win away from going to the World Series for the first time since 2008, where they lost to the Phillies four games to one.  

While the Rays have been spectacular defensively, the same cannot be said for Jose Altuve of the Astros.  After making zero throwing errors in 47 games during the regular season, Altuve now has three throwing errors in two games.  In Game 2 on Monday, Altuve short-hopped a throw to first from short right field that would have ended the inning.  It proved costly as the next batter, Manuel Margot, hit a 3-run home run. Altuve made another throwing error on a nearly identical play later in Game 2.  

Last night in Game 3, Altuve made another crucial throwing error on a potential 4-6-3 double play.  He short-hopped the throw to 2nd base and the ball wound up in left field.  With the Astros up 1-0, that put runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out.  The Rays went on to score five runs in the inning.

Not only have the Rays been capitalizing off of the defensive mistakes of Altuve, but they have been taking away hits from the Astros left and right with their defense brilliance.

Game 4 is tonight, and the Rays will be looking to punch their ticket to the Fall Classic with ace Tyler Glasnow on the mound.  

@stadium_times

Title Photo: Gregory Bull, AP

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