What is the difference of three days.
The Astros defeated the Rays, 7-4, on Friday as well as the American League Championship Series in three games each, forcing a certain Game 7 on Saturday. With the win, Houston joined the 2004 Red Sox as the only team in major league history to force a Game 7 after being caught, 3-0, in a best-of-seven series.
The Astros’ bats woke up following the unbeaten start of the series where they scored five total runs in the first three games. Houston returned with a back-to-back 4-3 win in Games 4 and 5, with Thursday’s victory in a walk-off home run by shortstop Carlos Correa.
Friday’s success was even more slippery. After Tampa Bay led 1-0 in the second warm-up with a Willy Adames double, the Astros scored four runs in the fifth inning and never looked back. The heart of the Houston lineup did most of the damage, with George Springer, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Correa all reaching the inning base in a row.
Houston extended the lead to 7-1 in the seventh inning before the Rays began to fight. Manuel Margot hit a solo home run in the seventh to make it 7-2, then Margot came home in the eighth to make it 7-4. But Tampa Bay quietly dropped to ninth, with Ryan Pressly closing the door for the Astros.
The Red Sox famously rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS to defeat the Yankees, who later eliminated the Cardinals in the World Series. The Astros have made some history this posteason by being the third team — including this year’s Brewers and the 1981 Royals — in league history to make the playoffs with a missing record.
A win on Saturday would get in Houston the difference of having the worst record (29-31) of any team to win a penily, “beating” the mark set by the 1973 Mets (82-79). The ugliest record for a World Series winner? The 2006 Cardinals, who went 83-78 in the regular season.