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Astros-Rays is unlikely Yankees-Red Sox sequel you can’t resist

Astros-Rays is unlikely Yankees-Red Sox sequel you can’t resist

From the Idiots to Dusty and the Scoundrels.

From a star-studded Yankees team to a Rays group so anonymous that it surely gives Fox executives nightmares.

Sequels rarely match the original. Yet who can resist a callback to the most shocking plot twist in baseball’s rich postseason history?

For the first time since Oct. 20, 2004 at Yankee Stadium — and only the second time ever — a team will stand 27 outs away from completing baseball’s ultimate postseason comeback Saturday night in San Diego. We are at that point because Dusty Baker’s Astros bested the upstart Rays, 7-4, Friday at Petco Park in American League Championship Series Game 6, Houston’s third straight win after falling into a 3-0 hole.

“We’ve got the opportunity, for the fourth time now, to do something special,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who found himself in an Aaron Boone-esque second-guessing cauldron about the game’s key decision.

No other team besides the 2004 Red Sox, who knighted themselves “Idiots,” made it even as far as the loser-goes-home stage in a best-of-seven competition after dropping the first three. The Bosox, of course, finished the job, upending their historical tormentors, the Yankees, in a 10-3 blowout that propelled them to their first championship since 1918 and sent their rivals into a multi-year tailspin. Since that night, the Red Sox have captured four titles, more than anyone else in baseball, to the Yankees’ one.

Astros
Yandy Diaz of the Rays and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros are separated during the sixth inning.Getty Images

“People are in this situation all the time,” Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino said, an accurate statement only if “this situation” is any sort of Game 7. “We’re refocused and ready to go tomorrow.”

The Rays and Astros lack the Yankees-Red Sox historical buildup, although they did battle for the maximum five games in an ALDS last year, the Astros prevailing and, upon the revelation that the Astros had illegally stolen signs in 2017 and 2018, the Rays — suspecting continued foul play from Houston — holding a grudge.

The Rays appeared up to the task of eliminating these Astros, who qualified for the postseason with a 29-31 record thanks to the expanded brackets and then upset both the Twins and the Athletics. The Rays followed their thrilling ALDS victory over the Yankees with the three straight ALCS triumphs and appeared destined for their first World Series since 2008.

Yet these Astros, who took on the beloved, 71-year-old Baker as their manager after firing A.J. Hinch for his involvement in the sign-stealing scandal, won’t go away no matter how many people want them to do so. In this game, they trailed 1-0 through four innings, then put up a four-spot in the top of the fifth after Cash lifted lefty co-ace Blake Snell with no outs and two men on in favor of reliever Diego Castillo, who had closed out Tampa Bay’s ALDS victory over the Yankees. This time, Castillo got hammered, and the Astros piled on against Cash’s “Stable,” scoring three more against rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan. Snell didn’t hide his disappointment afterward.

To avoid joining the 2004 Yankees in infamy, the Rays will lean on better histories. Like their ALDS victory over the 2020 Yanks.

“We were real close [in] Game 5 going up against the game’s best in Gerrit Cole and they found a way to do it,” Cash said of his players. “We went kind of toe to toe and expect the same tomorrow.”

Veteran Charlie Morton, who will start on the mound for the Rays, said he would utilize his dual winning performances from 2017: ALCS Game 7 against the Yankees and World Series Game 7 against the Dodgers. He would not, he said, think about ’04, even though he grew up a Yankees fan: “I don’t think about other teams that I had nothing to do with. … I can’t really incorporate baseball history in my fandom to what I’m going to do tomorrow.”

Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, who was 7 years old in 2004, said, “I’ve heard about [the Red Sox’s] comeback. But if there’s another team that can do it, it’s us.”

The ’Stros are well on their way. What an unlikely — unwanted, too, in many precincts — sequel this would be.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

About the author

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Christine Watkins

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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