Houston stays alive

Carlos Correa's walk-off homer forces Game 6 in ALCS

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With a win under their belt by taking Game 4, the Astros moved on from avoiding being swept in the ALCS and shifted their focus to Game 5 as they try day-by-day to stay alive in the postseason and potentially advance to the World Series. With Dusty Baker betting on his bullpen and not starting Framber Valdez on short rest, he tried to set his team up to be better positioned for the final two games. First, they needed to survive one more game.

They would do just that, in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. The victory comes on a bullpen day for both teams, and keeps Houston in the hunt for their second World Series in franchise history.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rays 3.

Series: TB leads 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly.

Losing Pitcher: Nick Anderson.

Teams trade early solo homers to start the bullpen day

Luis Garcia was who manager Dusty Baker turned to in a critical start in Game 5. He would have a perfect top of the first, then was immediately given a lead to work with thanks to a first-pitch home run by George Springer to lead-off the bottom of the inning.

Garcia worked himself into trouble in the top of the second, losing command of the zone and loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter, but stranded all three runners to end the inning. Blake Taylor would take over in the top of the third but would allow a game-tying solo homer against his first batter. He would get two outs before Houston moved on to Enoli Paredes to finish the inning.

Brantley puts the Astros ahead in the third

Houston would get that run back plus another in the bottom of the third, getting back-to-back hits by Josh Redick and Martin Maldonado to start the inning, setting up a two-RBI single by Michael Brantley to make it a 3-1 lead. Paredes continued on the mound to go as far as possible, erasing two walks for a scoreless top of the fourth, then returned in the fifth.

Randy Arozarena would cut the lead to one run against him in the top of the fifth, hitting a one-out solo homer to make it 3-2. Paredes would face one more batter, giving up a walk, before Andre Scrubb would be the next arm out of the bullpen. Scrubb finished the fifth, then came back for two more outs in the sixth, giving way to Brooks Raley, who came in to face the left-handed-hitting Brandon Lowe, who he would retire to end the inning.

Carlos Correa walks it off to force Game 6

Raley would get two more outs, retiring the first two batters of the top of the seventh before Josh James would come in to finish the inning. Still 3-2 in the top of the eighth, James would stay in the game, but Ji-Man Choi would start the inning with a solo home run to tie the game 3-3.

He allowed a single next but erased it with an impressive double play to empty the bases. James would come up limp after that play, though, and Houston would bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and get an inning plus. He got a strikeout to end the eighth before Houston's top of the order would go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Pressly would get the four outs asked of him, working around a leadoff single in the top of the ninth for a scoreless frame. In the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Correa would play the hero, getting a walk-off solo home run to force Game 6, keeping the Astros alive another day.

Up Next: ALCS Game 6 between the Astros and Rays will be another early-evening game, with first pitch at 5:07 PM Central. While it hasn't been formally announced, it's expected to be a repeat pitching matchup from Game 1, with Framber Valdez on the mound for Houston and Blake Snell for Tampa Bay. The Astros will flip back as the visiting team for this game, and Game 7, if needed.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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