It's weird enough that, after being down 3-0 in the ALCS to the Rays, the Astros have come all the way back to force a Game 7 tonight. It's only the second time in postseason history that a team has pulled off the feat: The Boston Red Sox did it
It's weird enough that, after being down 3-0 in the ALCS to the Rays, the Astros have come all the way back to force a Game 7 tonight. It's only the second time in postseason history that a team has pulled off the feat: The Boston Red Sox did it in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. They won the series, 4-3, and ended up winning the whole thing.
But there's also another weird (and possibly very awkward) tidbit in store for Game 7: The Rays are starting right-hander Charlie Morton, while the Astros will go with Lance McCullers Jr. This isn't the first time Morton and McCullers will pitch in a Game 7. They also did it three years ago. Twice. Those times, though ... they were pitching for the same team.
In 2017's ALCS Game 7 against the Yankees, Morton went the first five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and striking out five. McCullers finished things off with four scoreless of his own, putting up six strikeouts and allowing just one hit.
"I've talked to Charlie," McCullers said before Game 6. "Charlie's obviously a great friend of mine. I saw him kind of walking by when I was playing catch. We kind of both gave each other a little wave. Chuck and I are both pitching, but it’s not as much me versus Charlie as it is the hitters versus Charlie. He’s a great friend, he was a great teammate, he’s a great competitor, so hopefully if we do pitch tomorrow, as much as I love him, hopefully the 'Ws' flip."
In Game 7 of the World Series, the two were part of a five-pitcher contingent to beat the Dodgers. McCullers started and went a scoreless 2 1/3, striking out three and giving up three hits. Morton closed out the championship -- giving up one run over four innings and striking out four.
"I think it's kind of neat," Morton said before knowing if there would even be a Game 7. "We're friends, so to have this opportunity to pitch against each other in this situation is pretty neat."
So yes, they have good results in winner-take-all Game 7s. But that was together, as teammates. How will they do when they're going AGAINST each other? Will they be just as good? Will it be awkward? Will they try not to make eye contact and not get distracted by their memories of being teammates? We'll all just have to wait and watch.
Oh, if that all wasn't interesting enough, there's another peculiar fact about this matchup: according to STATS (and reported by The Athletic's Jason Stark), Morton will join Roger Clemens as just the second pitcher in Major League history to have won a Game 7 for a team and also started against that team in a Game 7.
Matt Monagan is a writer for MLB.com. In his spare time, he travels and searches Twitter for Wily Mo Peña news.