Following their sweep of the Twins in the wild-card round, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa sent a message to those who might be rooting against Houston advancing deeper in the playoffs: "What are they gonna say now?"
After Thursday's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Correa will likely have more to say.
Correa kept Houston's season alive with a walk-off solo home run off of Rays' relief pitcher Nick Anderson, giving the Astros a 4–3 win. It was Correa's second career walk-off homer in the postseason, making him the third player in history to accomplish that feat. The two sides will play Game 6 on Friday, but it's impressive Houston has made it this far after the first three games of the series.
Before this series, 38 teams have fallen into a 3-0 hole in MLB postseason history. Of that group, 30 teams were swept. Houston is just the fourth team to force a Game 6 after losing the first three games of the series. And there's only one team that's ever made it to a Game 7: the 2004 Red Sox, famously the only team to win a series after falling behind 3-0.
That Correa was the hero on Thursday is fitting, as he's been the Astros' most vocal and most productive hitter during this postseason run. His walk-off home run was his sixth in 20 plate appearances in this year's playoffs. He hit just five homers in 221 regular-season plate appearances in 2020, his worst home run-to-plate appearance rate of his career (one homer per 44 plate appearances).
The Astros led, 3–2, in the eighth inning before Tampa Bay's Ji-Man Choi tied the game with a 447-foot solo homer:
Anderson then pitched a clean eighth inning—retiring George Springer, Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve in order—before coming back out for the ninth. He got Alex Bregman to pop out before Correa cranked his 17th career postseason home run, living up to his reputation as the game's biggest heel and keeping alive the Astros' tour as baseball's villain.