What a difference three days makes.
The Astros beat the Rays, 7-4, on Friday to even the American League Championship Series at three games apiece, forcing a decisive Game 7 on Saturday. With the win, Houston joins the 2004 Red Sox as the only team in major league history to force a Game 7 after falling behind, 3-0, in a best-of-seven series.
The Astros bats have awaken following a listless start to the series in which they scored five total runs in the first three games. Houston pulled off back-to-back 4-3 wins in Games 4 and 5, with Thursday's victory coming on a walk-off home run by shortstop Carlos Correa.
Friday's win was more lopsided. After Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Willy Adames double, the Astros scored four runs in the fifth inning and never looked back. The heart of the Houston lineup did most of the damage, with George Springer, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Correa all reaching base consecutively in the inning.
Houston extended the lead to 7-1 by the seventh inning before the Rays started to battle back. Manuel Margot hit a solo home run in the seventh to make it 7-2, then Margot homered again in the eighth to make it 7-4. But Tampa Bay went down quietly in the ninth, with Ryan Pressly closing the door for the Astros.
The 2004 Red Sox famously rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS to beat the Yankees, eventually sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series. The Astros have already made a bit of history this postseason by becoming the third team—along with this year's Brewers and the 1981 Royals—in league history to make the playoffs with a losing record.
A win on Saturday would earn Houston the distinction of having the worst record (29-31) of any team to win a pennant, "beating" the mark set by the 1973 Mets (82-79). The worst record for a World Series champion? The 2006 Cardinals, who went 83-78 during the regular season.