Carlos Correa’s dramatic home run saved the Houston Astros season and extended the ALCS.
When you’re on the ropes and you need a clutch hit, who better to call than Carlos Correa? The star shortstop saved the Astros by hitting a dramatic walk-off home run to give his team a 4-3 win in ALCS Game Five and force a Game Six, making Houston just the fourth MLB team to force a Game Six after trailing 3-0.
Correa notched his third career walk-off hit in the postseason, which ties David Ortiz for the most all-time. He also became just the third player in history with multiple walk-off home runs in the postseason, joining Ortiz and Bernie Williams. He’s been relatively quiet in the ALCS so far, but he certainly made his presence known in the bottom of the ninth inning, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
This game was also the first time in postseason history that a team has had a leadoff home run and a walk-off home run in the same game, as George Springer homered on the first pitch of Game Five. So the Astros homered on the game’s first pitch and the game’s last pitch. Pretty remarkable stuff.
As for the pitching, it was impressive. The Astros used seven pitchers, five of which were rookies, and they held the Rays to three runs on seven hits while striking out 11. Luis Garcia got the start and went two scoreless, and after Michael Brantley drove in two to give the team a two-run lead, the bullpen kept the Rays at bay until the eighth when Dusty Baker made the mistake of leaving Josh James in too long again.
James, into his second inning of work, served up a mammoth solo homer to Ji-Man Choi that tied the game at three apiece. Ryan Pressly made it a little interesting again but recorded the final four outs to set the stage for Correa’s heroics. The blast was even more important because Framber Valdez, who’ll be starting Game Six, was next in line to pitch if the game went into extra innings. Ending the game at that moment saved the team’s pitching staff for the rest of the ALCS.
Can We Believe?
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I’ll be the first to admit I assumed the Astros were done after falling behind 3-0 in this ALCS. I wouldn’t have put it past them to win a game or two, but I didn’t think they had a chance to win the series. I still don’t want to get my hopes up, but it’s impossible to deny that there’s a real chance this team comes all the way back to win.
Valdez and Lance McCullers are lined up to pitch the next two games on normal rest, so the Astros clearly have a fighting chance. The bullpen has performed admirably and will need to continue that if the team is going to win these last two games to advance to the World Series. The combination of Springer, Brantley, Correa and Jose Altuve has carried the team offensively, and they’ll need to stay hot.
But the Astros have the momentum, and they also have the championship pedigree and the experience to pull off the impossible on the big stage. If there’s any team in the sport right now that can join the 2004 Red Sox as the only teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, it’s this one.