On Tuesday, the Astros became the 39th team in the history of the record season to fall behind, 3-0, in a best-of-seven series. The story they faced was, to say the least, frightening. Now Houston is accomplishing something special. The Astros’ 7-4 victory over the Rays on Friday night in
On Tuesday, the Astros became the 39th team in the history of the record season to fall behind, 3-0, in a best-of-seven series. The story they faced was, to say the least, frightening.
Now Houston is accomplishing something special. The Astros’ 7-4 victory over the Rays Friday night in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series forced a win-take-all Game 7 Saturday at Petco Park. The tide has turned.
• ALCS presented by GEICO, game 7: 20:30 ET on TBS
Of the 39 teams that have faced a 3-0 hole, manager Dusty Baker̵
It remains to be seen if the Astros can continue to follow this path. For now, here are 15 key facts and figures that look back at Game 6 in ALCS and forward to Game 7.
1. Astros start
Eight of Valdez’s nine strikes came on his curveball, the second most curveball strikeouts by a pitcher in a post-season match in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), just behind Adam Wainwright’s nine in Game 1 of the 2012 National League Division Series.
Part of how Valdez got so many curveball strikes? A lot of swings and misses on the court. He got 15 whiffs on his basket, a career best for any game, most of a pitcher in a 2020 game (regular or post-season) and most of a pitcher in a post-season game in the pitch-tracking era.
Rays’ bullpen finally breaks
4. Throughout Tampa Bay’s first 12 games this record season, manager Kevin Cash’s relievers had combined to inherit 20 runners and beach them all. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the longest row of all time to start a post season.
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This ended in the fifth inning of Game 6 as Diego Castillo relieved starter Blake Snell with two on and no outs and allowed both runners to score on a George Springer single, part of a four-run frame that put Houston ahead, 4 -1.
5. Castillo not only allowed Snell’s two runners to score, but he was then charged with two own runs (one earned) in one inning. It was the first time Castillo allowed a run in his post-season career. When he came in on Friday, Castillo was one of only eight pitchers to keep the opposition fruitless in each of his first 10 career post-season appearances while throwing at least 13 innings over that span.
The Rays, who were unable to get a lead to stand up, were an unusual sight for 2020. Into the day, Tampa Bay was 5-0 this after-season as he scored only after achieving an MLB -best 25-6 (.806) in these games. in the regular season.
Correa comes through again
The only players with more career after the season than Correa are Bernie Williams (80), Manny Ramirez (78), David Justice (63), Derek Jeter (61), David Ortiz (61) and Albert Pujols (54), with Pujols is the only active player among this group.
9. Correa has benefited from having many opportunities (62 postseason games), but he is also only 26 years old. No other player in the history of the post season has amassed more than 35 RBIs before turning 27.
On the line Saturday
The game-starting match-pitching in Game 7 puts former Astros teammates Charlie Morton (now with the Rays) and Lance McCullers Jr. against each other. They are both familiar with win-take-all games – in fact, they each beat both Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 7 of the World Series in 2017 for Houston. They will be the first pair of players in the history of the post season to throw in the same win-take-all game as teammates and then later start against each other in a win-take-all game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
11. The Astros (.483) had a winning percentage in the regular season that was 184 points lower than the Rays’ (.667). It’s the second largest win percentage difference in any post-season series behind the NL Wild Card series in 2020 between the Dodgers (.717) and the Brewers (.483). That means this would be the biggest disruption of winning percentages in a post-season series all the time. The current record is a 147-point difference between the White Sox (.616) and the Cubs (.763) when the South Siders won the 1906 World Series.
The Astros have already pulled two disruptions of 117-point differentials in winning percentage, with the Twins and As both winning by a .600 clip this year. These are currently tied to the third largest such disturbance in a series in the history of the post season.
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12. After winning Game 5 of the ALDS this year, the Rays will try to become the 13th team in the history of the post season to win more win-take-all games in the same post season. The Nationals set a record in the 2019 mail season and won three win-take-all games that culminated in Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros. Overall, Tampa Bay is 4-2 in franchise history in win-take-all games, and it plays two in a record season for the second year in a row. (It lost Game 5 of the ALDS in 2019 against Houston.)
13. The Astros are 5-5 in franchise history in post-season games with winners. They lost their last (Game 7 of the 2019 World Series) after winning each of their previous three. The last time Houston won a win-take-all game was Game 5 of the ALDS in 2019 against Tampa Bay.
14. Astros’ manager is quite familiar with these types of games. This will be Baker’s ninth career-win-take-all game as manager, the most all-time breaking with Bobby Cox. Baker’s team is 2-6 in the previous eight, including losses in each of the last five. The last time a back-to-back team won a win-take-all game was the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLDS in 2003 against the Braves.
15. The Rays have only lost four consecutive games once in 2020, and that was early in the regular season when they dropped five in a row – two in Atlanta, three in Baltimore – from July 29-August. 2.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
Sarah Langs is a reporter / editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.