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History offers hope for Houston comeback

3-2 turnarounds not uncommon when team has Games 6 and 7 at home
October 18, 2017

The Astros may have lost their edge in the American League Championship Series with Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Yankees, but they still have the advantage of playing Games 6 and 7 from the comfort of home.After losing three straight at Yankee Stadium, the Astros return to Houston needing back-to-back

The Astros may have lost their edge in the American League Championship Series with Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Yankees, but they still have the advantage of playing Games 6 and 7 from the comfort of home.
After losing three straight at Yankee Stadium, the Astros return to Houston needing back-to-back wins at Minute Maid Park to reach the World Series. Teams trailing 3-2 in best-of-seven series have advanced in 18 of 55 instances since 1985, when the LCS expanded to seven games, the most recent being the Cubs' historic comeback in last year's World Series.
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Home-field advantage, however, significantly tilts those odds as teams trailing 3-2 and playing Games 6 and 7 at home have advanced nearly half of the time (13 of 27). Teams that lost Game 5 to fall down, 3-2, as the Astros have, are 8-9 when returning home for Games 6 and 7.
"This series isn't over. This game is," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after Game 5 of the ALCS presented by Camping World. "We're going to get back to Houston and get an off-day with our families and come back ready to play."
The Astros went 48-33 at Minute Maid Park in the regular season, and they are unbeaten there through four games this postseason. And while the Yanks -- who had the best home record in the AL this season (51-30) -- are 5-0 at home this October, they are just 1-4 on the road.
"There weren't a lot [of fans] rooting for us here [in New York]," Hinch said. "I think getting home will be good for us. We'll have an off-day tomorrow, and then get to play in front of our home crowd. Every home team has won this series. If that trend continues, we'll be in pretty good shape."
If the Astros come back, this will become the fifth seven-game series in MLB history in which the home team won every game.
Below is a closer look at the four teams that accomplished what Houston hopes to -- winning Games 6 and 7 at home after dropping three straight on the road. The Astros and Yankees have both been on the wrong end of such comebacks this century.
Further down is a look at teams that won Games 6 and 7 at home, but also won a road game earlier in the series.
2004 National League Championship Series
The Astros were in the same position as the Yanks 13 years ago in the 2004 NLCS, a Central Division showdown with the Cardinals. After losing Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis, Houston rallied to take control of the series with three straight wins at Minute Maid Park. The Astros took the series lead in an exciting Game 5 that ended when Jeff Kent's walk-off homer broke a scoreless draw, but they came one win shy of the World Series by losing another two games at Busch Stadium.

2001 World Series
This 3-2 comeback also featured the Yankees winning Games 3-5 in the Bronx, at the old Yankee Stadium, before the D-backs claimed their first and only championship by clinching the series at home. It remains one of the most memorable Fall Classics with two extra-innings bouts and a Game 7 decided by a bases-loaded walk-off hit by Luis Gonzalez. Arizona's comeback halted New York's bid for a fourth straight title.

1991 World Series
Another seven-game thriller, the 1991 World Series between the Twins and Braves saw three games extend beyond regulation and five games decided by a single run. Minnesota fell behind 3-2, but came back to win the franchise's third title. In the decisive Game 7, the Twins' Jack Morris pitched a 10-inning shutout and was named the series' Most Valuable Player after Gene Larkin's walk-off single won it for Minnesota.

1987 World Series
Four years earlier, the Twins became the first team to win a World Series by winning all four games at home. Minnesota's road woes -- the club went 29-52 away from the Metrodome in the regular season -- spilled over into the playoffs as the Twins dropped three straight to the Cardinals in St. Louis before notching two come-from-behind victories at home to clinch the series.

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Here are four instances since 1985 in which teams overcame a 3-2 deficit by winning Games 6 and 7 at home after losing Game 5 on the road. In these cases the home team did not win every game:
2011 World Series
The Cardinals battled back from down 3-2 in this Fall Classic, which featured a number of memorable moments. In Game 3, the Cards' Jose Pujols became the third player to ever homer three times in a World Series game, a feat matched by the Giants' Pablo Sandoval one year later. After losing Game 5 in Arlington, the Cardinals returned home for a unforgettable Game 6 in which they made World Series history as the first team to overcome a ninth-inning deficit and an extra-innings deficit in the same game. St. Louis sealed it with a 6-2 win in Game 7 at Busch Stadium.

2002 World Series
For the first time, both Wild Card teams competed for the championship in the 2002 World Series between the Angels and Giants. After losing in a 10-4 rout at Pacific Bell Park in Game 5, the Halos were within eight outs of elimination in Game 6 before home runs by Scott Spiezio and Darin Erstad helped erase a five-run deficit. That comeback forced a Game 7, which the Angels won at home for the franchise's first championship.

1987 NLCS
Well before their famous World Series comeback in 2011, the Cardinals completed another 3-2 comeback by winning Games 6 and 7 at home in the 1987 NLCS against the Giants. St. Louis advanced, but it eventually suffered the same fate as San Francisco, conceding a 3-2 lead against Minnesota in seven games with consecutive losses on the road.

1986 World Series
It wasn't until the fifth game of this series between the Mets and Red Sox that the home team won a game. Unfortunately for Boston, that trend continued after its Game 5 victory at Fenway Park. The series shifted back to New York for Game 6, and the Red Sox came within one strike of ending their championship drought when Bill Buckner's infamous fielding error in the 10th inning allowed the Mets to force a Game 7, which they won, 8-5.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for based in Los Angeles.