After becoming only the second team in Major League Baseball history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in a series, the Houston Astros were unable to beat the Tampa Bay Rays once more and were eliminated from the postseason one step shy of a return trip to the World Series.
Houston bounced back with a pair of 4-3 wins and a 7-4 win in Game 6 where Framber Valdez secured his third win of the postseason to force the decisive Game 7 after nine strikeouts over six innings. The offense, meanwhile, used a four-run fifth inning emphasized by a two-run single from outfielder George Springer.
Springer’s Game 5 home run moved him into a tie for fourth place all-time in postseason home runs with Albert Pujols with 19. It also broke a tie with teammate Jose Altuve, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for fifth all time. He finished 13 postseason games with 15 hits, 10 RBI, eight runs scored, four home runs and a batting average of .263.
The Rays advance to their second World Series, where they will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At the end of the Astros’ postseason, shortstop Carlos Correa led most offensive categories, including home runs (6), RBI (17), and slugging (.766) while he was second in hits (17) and batting average (.362). Altuve led the way in runs (11), hits (18), walks (11) and batting average (.375) and was second in home runs (5) and RBI (11). The middle infield duo has now played 59 postseason games together which is more than any other second baseman shortstop duo in MLB history according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Similarly, Springer, Correa and Altuve, along with third baseman Alex Bregman and first baseman Yuli Gurriel have now played 56 postseason games together which is more than any other group of five teammates in MLB history.
To lead the pitching staff, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy and Valdez all started three games while the latter two also registered a relief appearance. Luis Garcia was the other starting pitcher and got the ball to start Game 5 of the ALCS.
Valdez racked up the most innings pitched (24) and strikeouts (26) while also allowing the most walks (10) and second-most hits (14) but finished with the top ERA of 1.88. Urquidy collected 15.2 innings pitched and allowed 12 hits and struck out 12 while Greinke and McCullers both registered 14.2 innings pitched. The latter yielded the most hits (16), runs (12) and home runs (7) but was the only other pitcher over the 20-strikeout mark with 23.
McCullers was part of history when he took the ball to start Game 7 opposite former teammate Charlie Morton. The pair pitched the Astros to victory in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS and became the first two players in postseason history to pitch in the same winner-take-all game as teammates then later start against each other in a winner-take-all game according to Elias.
Entering the offseason, Springer, outfielders Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick and pitcher Brad Peacock are free agents with another group of longtime Astros set to potentially join them after next season. Manager Dusty Baker announced the entire coaching staff will return for 2021.