'Big-inning team': 5-run 7th has Astros up 2-0
HOUSTON -- The eruption bubbled deep inside Minute Maid Park for much of Friday afternoon. The Astros had traffic all over the bases against the White Sox, getting a sac fly, taking advantage of some walks and drilling singles through open holes on the infield.
Still, you had the feeling baseball’s highest-scoring offense had something more. You had the feeling a big swing was coming. You had the feeling the Astros were about to break out.
The Astros did just that in the seventh inning, getting a two-run double from Carlos Correa and a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker to cap a five-run outburst and send Houston to a 9-4 victory over the White Sox in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. The Astros lead the best-of-five series, 2-0.
“That's our team,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, this is a big-inning team. Sometimes people wonder why we don't bunt or why we don't squeeze or whatever it is, which I believe in also, but you're keeping the other team in the game by keeping the other team close. We've got a big-inning team. It doesn't always work, but when it works, it works great.”
Of the 87 teams to have a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five series, 77 of them (89 percent) have won the series. The Astros will try to sweep the series when they head to Chicago for Game 3 on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“It's a great feeling,” Correa said. “We've got to stay focused and take care of business when we go to Chicago. That’s a great team we're playing on the other side. They can get the job done any time. It doesn't matter if they're down two games. They will fight back. We've got to stay focused and try to get one more win.”
Before they were mashing in the seventh, the Astros were working counts against White Sox starter Lucas Giolito -- who struck out the side in the first inning -- and drawing walks, battling back from a pair of deficits. In fact, the first four runs Houston scored were the product of walks, with Tucker and Chas McCormick driving in runs in the second and Yuli Gurriel drilling a two-run single with the bases loaded to tie the game in the fifth.
“It's a lineup that's very balanced,” Gurriel said. “We have a lot of guys in there that can really hit all the way through the lineup. I think the key for us today was hitting with runners in scoring position, which is what won the game for us.”
The game was tied at 4 in the seventh when three of the first four Astros batters singled against reliever Aaron Bummer, including an RBI single by Yordan Alvarez that put Houston ahead, 5-4. The Astros blew it open against Craig Kimbrel. Correa lined a double over the head of right fielder Leury García to score a pair, and Tucker followed with a homer into the Crawford Boxes to make it 9-4 and send Minute Maid Park into a frenzy.
“First of all, Carlos had a great at-bat,” Tucker said. “I didn't try to do too much with it, just tried to drive the ball the other way where it was pitched and ended up going for a homer. That was huge for us to put up a five-spot there.”
Correa’s 52 postseason RBIs are the most in franchise history and the seventh most all time. He trails only Albert Pujols (54) for the most postseason RBIs among active players.
“Correa's been getting hits here long before I got here,” Baker said. “I was watching him on TV. This is his time of the year. You don't plan on it, and you can't count on getting those runs off of Kimbrel like that, you know what I mean? So you take them when you can.”
The Astros won both of the first two games of the series by five runs and had 10 hits in each game. They’re hitting .308 against the White Sox in the series, including 8-for-19 with runners in scoring position. The White Sox will head home and try to stay alive behind the best home record in the AL (53-28), while the Astros need one more win to reach their fifth consecutive AL Championship Series.
“It's not going to be a really easy series where we're up all the time,” Gurriel said. “We were down two times in the game today, but the important thing is we didn't let it change our mood in the dugout at all. We were able to stay levelheaded and come back and win the game.”