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 dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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