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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Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow recently addressed the allegations at the center of the Astros cheating scandal. Be sure to watch the video to find out why Luhnow was careful not to go into specifics about other MLB teams and their involvement in similar activities.

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