The Astros couldn't pull it off

Exciting playoff run by Astros ends with ALCS Game 7 loss to Rays

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Against all odds, first just to make it to this series having reached the playoffs with a losing record and being underdogs along the way, then going down 3-0 to the Rays in the series itself, the Houston Astros found themselves in a Game 7 trying to make history. A loss and their season would come to an abrupt end. A win and they'd advance to their third World Series in four seasons and become just the second team in MLB history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

Unfortunately for Houston, Tampa Bay would play their best game over the last four, holding Houston's offense at bay while taking advantage of the Astros' pitching mistakes. The Rays advance to the World Series to face the winner between the Dodgers and Braves in the NLCS. Here is how Game 7 unfolded:

Final Score: Rays 4, Astros 2.

Series: TB wins 4-3.

Winning Pitcher: Charlie Morton.

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr.

Rays strike first and send McCullers Jr. out early

It was Tampa Bay who looked focused and ready to start the game. While Charlie Morton made quick work of Houston's lineup in his first two innings, Lance McCullers Jr. was getting strikeouts but allowed two hits, both home runs, one a two-run shot by Randy Arozarena in the first, then a solo homer by Mike Zunino in the second, putting the Astros in an early 3-0 hole.

McCullers Jr. would refocus, but only enough to get two outs into the fourth inning before Dusty Baker would make the early call to his bullpen to bring in Brooks Raley to finish the inning. Jose Urquidy was next, working around a walk for a scoreless fifth to start his relief appearance.

Houston continues to hunt their first run

Meanwhile, Charlie Morton was dominating the Astros. He allowed just one hit and baserunner in the first five, a first-inning single by Michael Brantley. Houston would get their first baserunner since that hit in the first, a one-out walk by Martin Maldonado in the top of the sixth. He would get forced out at second on a groundball by George Springer, but Springer would move to third on an infield single, putting the tying run at the plate and prompting Kevin Cash to dip into his bullpen. The move would work, as Houston would strand both runners and keep it a 3-0 Tampa Bay lead.

Urquidy remained in the game for the bottom of the sixth, but a leadoff single would end up scoring after a walk and two sac flies to extend the Rays' lead to 4-0. The Astros tried to get something going in the top of the seventh, getting a one-out single by Alex Bregman followed by a single by Kyle Tucker to move him to third. They would waste the scoring opportunity, with Yuli Gurriel's dreadful postseason continuing by grounding into an inning-ending double play.

Astros unable to complete the historic comeback

Blake Taylor would be next out of Houston's bullpen and tossed a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. In the top of the eighth, the Astros would load the bases with two outs on a single and two walks, bringing Carlos Correa to the plate. He would get Houston on the board, getting a two-RBI single to cut the lead in half at 4-2. That's as close as the Astros would get, with Alex Bregman striking out to end the inning to strand the tying runs on base, then Houston coming up empty in the ninth.

Up Next: Houston's season is over, and they will now enter the offseason and the process of trying to re-sign existing players, if possible or picking up new ones. The Rays will travel to Arlington, home of Globe Life Field, where the World Series is being played. Game 1 is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:09 PM Central, pitching matchups TBD.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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