Tagged in: carlos correa

Houston Astros survive to force Game 6 vs Tampa Bay Rays in ALCS

The Tampa Bay Rays had a shot to advance to the World Series and send the Houston Astros packing for the second consecutive night at San Diego’s Petco Park on Thursday. And for the second straight night, they did not get it done.

The Astros have prevailed with a 4-3 Game 5 triumph in dramatic fashion as Carlos Correa hit a walk-off homer in the ninth inning.

Let’s dive in on the key storylines and things to know from Game 5. 

Correa’s been possibly the most vocal Astros player this postseason when it comes to wanting to silence the team’s critics. After a lackluster offensive regular season (.264 average with a 92 OPS+ and five homers), Correa is now hitting .342/.457/.816 with six homers in the playoffs.

Yes, more home runs in the postseason than regular season. He’s now two homers away from tying the record for the most homers in a single postseason (see the note in the Arozarena section below for more on this). 

Further, Correa’s clutch exploits in the playoffs are notable. His three career walk-off hits tie David Ortiz for the most ever in the postseason (via ESPN Stats and Info). Correa also hit a walk-off homer the ALCS last year, coming vs. the Yankees in Game 2.

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The Astros went with a bullpen game, which is just a game full of relievers. Luis Garcia started the game and worked two innings, he was followed by Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Andre Scrubb, Brooks Raley (it was all rookies through this point, by the way), Josh James and Ryan Pressly. They got through the nine innings permitting just three runs on seven hits. All this with their backs against the wall. 

The Rays used John Curtiss as an opener.

That is, a pitcher who throws around one inning before giving way to the pitcher — usually of the opposite hand — who is designed to pitch the most innings in the game. That was Josh Fleming, who was usually a starter in 2020. Curtiss went 1 1/3 innings before Fleming went three. 

Overall, it was a commendable effort from both pitching staffs. Lots of the big names were either unavailable of carrying in big postseason workloads. 

The Astros are trying to run this thing to the distance after trailing 0-3 while the Rays are looking to avoid facing the chance of joining the 2004 Yankees in making dubious history and losing four consecutive games after taking a 3-0 lead.

The pitching matchup is the same as Game 1 with Blake Snell going for the Rays and Framber Valdez getting the ball for the Astros.  Of the 39 teams in the MLB playoffs to ever face a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series, the Astros now join the 1998 Braves, 1999 Mets and 2004 Red Sox as the only teams to force a Game 6.

Both the Braves and Mets lost Game 6. The Red Sox won out to make history. The Astros are looking to be the second team to do that, but they’ll need to get Game 6 first. 

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McCullers throws 7 scoreless, Astros beat Giants 6-4

Lance McCullers Jr. pitched no-hit ball into the seventh inning, Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa drove in two runs each and the Houston Astros snapped a five-game skid with a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.

McCullers (2-1) bounced back from one of the worst performances of his career with a gem where he permitted one hit and struck out five in seven scoreless innings. The 26-year-old tied a career high by allowing eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings of a 14-7 loss at Arizona his last time out.

His only hit Monday came to 15 games with a grounder down the third base line that rolled just out of reach of Alex Bregman for a double with one out in the seventh.

The Astros got back in the win column a day after an ugly 7-2 loss to the Athletics that was marred by a benches-clearing fight that could lead to the suspension of hitting coach Alex Cintrón.

Cintrón was yelling at Oakland’s Ramón Laureano before the A’s outfielder charged Houston’s dugout, leading to the team’s second such incident this season after the Astros also got into with the Dodgers. San Francisco rookie starter Logan Webb (1-1) permitted four hits and five runs — only two earned because of two errors — in 3 1/3 innings.

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The Giants got things going on offense after McCullers left the game. Austin Slater had a solo shot off Josh James that made it 6-1 in the eighth inning.

Solano chased James on an RBI double with no outs in the ninth.

Ryan Pressly retired the next two batters before the Giants cut it to 6-3 on a run-scoring single by Brandon Crawford. Slater hit an RBI single before Pressly retired pinch-hitter Evan Longoria to get his first save.

Bregman was by Solano’s throw home while trying to score on Yuli Gurriel’s grounder in the third. The ball bounced off Bregman, glanced off catcher Chadwick Tromp’s mask and rolled away, allowing Bregman to score.

McCullers, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery, retired his first six batters before plunking Slater on the leg to start the third inning. He helped himself out with a nifty defensive play to end that inning when he ran to cover first base on a grounder hit by Mike Yastrzemski, made an off-balance catch and tagged Yastrzemski before falling to the dirt.

Martín Maldonado snapped a 0-for-13 slump when he connected off Conner Menez for a solo homer to the seats in right field to start Houston’s sixth and make it 6-0.

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