Astros floating in rare air, overcoming 3-0 deficit to force Game 7

Houston Astros Carlos Correa, right, celebrates with his teammates after winning Game 6 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in San Diego. The Astros defeated the Rays 7-4 to tie the series 3-3. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Just like that the Houston Astros are a win away from an improbable return to the World Series.

The Astros became just the second major league baseball team to force a Game 7 after facing a 3-0 series deficit. But that is exactly what the Astros have done after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 in Game 6 to tie the American League Championship Series at 3-3 on Friday night at San Diego’s Petco Park.

The Astros play the Rays on Saturday night for the pennant and a chance to move on to face either the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Only the Boston Red Sox have overcome a 3-0 deficit to force a Game 7 when they did so against the New York Yankees in the ALCS in 2004.

So, the Astros are indeed floating in rare air right now.

They have done so in extraordinary fashion, winning three straight against a Tampa Bay team that seemed to have their number when the series started. But the Astros, who managed just five runs total in the first three games, have suddenly scored 15 runs over the last three games to make to avoid elimination and force a Game 7.

Left-hander Framber Valdez was steady Friday night, allowing just one run, three hits and three walks in six innings, while striking out nine of the 23 batters he faced. The Astros bats, meanwhile, came alive in the critical fourth inning with four runs scored to erase a 1-0 deficit.

Houston Astros pitcher Framber Valdez pitches during the first inning in Game 6 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Astros will start Lance McCullers on Saturday night and he will face either Tyler Glasnow or Charlie Morton for the Rays.