2-out rally is the theme of Astros' playoff run

Houston's 5-run 6th inning included pair of RBI hits with two away

October 21st, 2021

BOSTON -- It was only a matter of time before the Astros’ offense found its stride in the American League Championship Series. After mustering just three runs and falling to Boston in Game 3, Houston put up 18 runs across back-to-back wins at Fenway Park to head back to Minute Maid Park with a 3-2 series edge.

One night after posting seven runs in the ninth to stun the Red Sox in Game 4, the Astros tallied a five-run sixth inning en route to a 9-1 victory in Game 5. Houston’s dominant frame mirrored a trend the team has followed throughout the postseason -- piling on runs with two outs.

“I think it’s a matter of never giving up,” Yuli Gurriel said. “I think that’s what we learned over the years, that you can never give up in any situation. You have to keep pushing. I think that’s what allowed us to have that kind of inning.”

The Astros’ final three runs in that five-run sixth came with two outs (as did their last two runs of the night in the ninth). Across the postseason, 41 of the Astros’ 62 runs (66 percent) have come with two outs.

“It was very important to have it tonight,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It was very important to have it every night, if you can. You can't get them when you want them, but the thing about it is, you have to make contact. It's about contact, and if you are not making contact, you don't have any chance of getting those two-out hits.

“Put the ball in play, and then anything can happen. And if you accept the walks, swinging at balls in the strike zone, then that puts runners on base and puts the pitcher in the stretch, and then potentially we have guys up and down the lineup that know how to drive them in.”

The Astros executed that plan nearly to a T in their explosive sixth inning, sending all nine batters to the plate.

First up was Jose Altuve, who hit the game-tying home run in Game 4 to set the stage for Houston’s comeback. The second baseman watched Chris Sale’s first pitch go by for a strike before waiting on the next four pitches to take the walk.

After Michael Brantley reached on an error by first baseman Kyle Schwarber and Alex Bregman grounded out, Yordan Alvarez connected on a first-pitch fastball down the middle for a two-run double to stretch Houston’s lead to 3-0. Alvarez was also responsible for the Astros’ first run, having tagged Boston starter Sale for a long homer over the Green Monster in the second. Alvarez’s second hit of the night knocked out Sale and brought in right-hander Ryan Brasier, who promptly got Carlos Correa swinging.

With two outs, the Astros fired off three consecutive hits: a Kyle Tucker single, a Gurriel RBI double and a 2-run single from Jose Siri. With his single, the 26-year-old Siri drove in the fifth run of the inning and recorded his first hit and RBIs of the postseason.

With Jake Meyers sidelined by a left shoulder injury, Siri has seen more reps in center field this postseason. Baker has gone to Siri and Chas McCormick at the position, depending on pitcher and ballpark matchups.

“I'm really excited to have my first postseason hit,” Siri said. “I'm really happy to come through in that spot, and I'm ready to continue to give it all as we move forward.”

With Houston’s pitching staff holding Boston to just three runs over the past two games and the offense piling on to put both contests out of reach, the Astros now head home with a chance to clinch the AL pennant at their own ballpark.

“It was really important,” Gurriel said. “I think everyone knows this game was really definitive in the series a lot of times, so to be able to jump out early was extremely important.”