Houston Astros: A 2004 ALCS comeback repeat came up short

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Astros nearly replicated the 2004 Boston Red Sox ALCS comeback.

In 2004, a Wild Card Boston Red Sox team went down 0-3 to the New York Yankees in the ALCS. This series went down as one of the greatest in the history of the game, with extra-inning walk-offs from David Ortiz and a stolen base from current Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts – it had it all. We almost saw a repeat, but a high powered, analytical team killed the Houston Astros chances.

Only four teams in MLB history have fought back to Game Six after trailing 0-3, and only two forced a Game Seven. The Astros were riding some of the highest momentum they ever had, but at some point playing the money ball game will hurt the other team’s chances.

The Tampa Bay Rays are a bottom-three team in regard to market size, which is a huge difference from 2004 because of the Yankees being the highest paid team. The Rays and Astros have been known as two of the most analytical teams in the game with taking any advantage they can, plus they were two of the first teams to establish an infield shift. These all come from the aspects of Moneyball and Billy Beane.

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The 2020 Houston Astros were very much like the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

  • Both teams finished second in their divisions and played the first place team from their division in the playoffs
  • Both knocked off the top team in the AL West (LA Angels) in the ALDS
  • Both played the best AL East team in the ALCS
  • Both teams had a chance of playing the Dodgers or Braves in the World Series
  • Both teams hit a walk-off in Game Five
  • The Red Sox played the #1 seeded NL team in the World Series; if they had won, the Astros would have done the same

Everything looked so perfect, but the momentum didn’t carry to Game Seven, and the Astros fell.

It was a dream to nearly pull off one of the greatest comebacks in all of sports, but give it up for this team anyway. They were the first below .500 team to ever make it the playoffs in the AL. They swept the AL Central champions, they took down the AL West champions in four games, and they were one win away from advancing to the World Series against the AL East champions.

For those baseball fans that saw this as a win for the sport, it wasn’t. If they thought the Astros didn’t have a higher seed because they didn’t cheat, they are wrong. This team was hit with huge injuries and the loss of Gerrit Cole. They lost their GM and manager, and still made it this far with Dusty Baker. The clutch city gene was trumped by analytics in 2020, and as we look to 2021, we know they have a great chance to be in the same exact spot.