It was the script the Astros used to pull off a stunning come-from-behind victory over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, tilting that series in Houston’s favor. And more recently, Springer’s game-tying solo homer in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday allowed Correa to hit a walk-off winner in the 11th inning.
So when Springer blasted a go-ahead three-run homer in the third inning of Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, it was only fitting for Correa to follow suit with a three-run shot of his own in the sixth inning, helping send the Astros to an 8-3 win and a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“We’re not thinking about the World Series yet, because we’re playing against one of the best teams in the big leagues,” Astros second baseman José Altuve said.
The homers by Springer and Correa -- who were a combined 3-for-24 in the ALCS entering Game 4 -- marked the sixth time the duo has gone deep in the same postseason game, which is the most by any pair of teammates in Major League postseason history. Houston is 6-0 in those games, including Thursday’s win.
“It's an offense where you do anything that you possibly can to get the baton on to the next guy,” Springer said. “It's an awesome thing to be a part of just guys wanting to pass the baton on to the next one.”
Springer put the Astros ahead, 3-1, when he crushed a Masahiro Tanaka splitter for a three-run homer in the third that was struck at 109.8 mph off the bat. Correa hit a 109.5 mph laser off reliever Chad Green in the sixth inning for a three-run shot that put Houston ahead 6-1.
“It's been a tough year for me,” said Correa, who was limited to 75 games in the regular season with a rib fracture and a sore back. “I went through a lot. And then to come here in the postseason and be able to contribute to my team, it means everything.”
The Astros, who were shut out in Game 1, have reeled off three wins in a row, including two at Yankee Stadium, and are one win away from earning their second AL pennant in three seasons. Houston will send one of baseball’s most accomplished big-game pitchers, Justin Verlander, to the mound in Game 5 on Friday night in the Bronx with a chance to punch its ticket to the World Series.
“When the game ends and we go into the next game, I love the fact that we have J.V. on our side,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “And he's going to set a tone tomorrow that hopefully leads us to the World Series.”
In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams taking a 3-1 lead have gone on to win 73 of 86 times (85 percent). Under the current 2-3-2 format, those ahead 3-1 and holding home-field advantage in the series have gone on to win 39 of 46 times (85 percent). The 2016 Cubs were the last team to rally from a 3-1 deficit by winning the final two games on the road at Cleveland to win the World Series.
“I think we have a resilient group,” Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu said. “We’ve shown that all year no matter what’s been thrown at it. I know we’ll be ready tomorrow. We’ll give them our best shot again.”
Houston starter Zack Greinke teetered on the brink of disaster in a 28-pitch first inning, but he escaped having allowed just one run. He left the game with one out in the fifth inning for reliever Ryan Pressly, who walked Aaron Hicks to load the bases before striking out Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion for two of the biggest outs of the season.
“When you're able to shut them down like Pressly did and be able to score runs on top of that, I think it changes the game right away,” Correa said. “They have bases loaded a couple of times and were not able to do anything. Our pitching did a great job, and then we were able to score some runs on top of that. So I think that's why we won this game.”
Springer’s homer was the 13th playoff homer of his career, which is an Astros record (Altuve has 12) and puts him 10th on the all-time list. He’s homered in 12 of the 41 postseason games he’s played in since 2015.
Correa’s homer was his 10th in the playoffs, making him the youngest player in history (25 years, 25 days old) to reach that mark. Albert Pujols socked his 10th playoff homer three months away from turning 26.
“I grew up a huge fan of Albert Pujols,” Correa said. “I even wore No. 5 all the way growing up. Obviously couldn't wear it with the Astros, because the legend Jeff Bagwell, Hall of Famer, the number is retired. I'm a big fan of Pujols and to see what he did at a younger age, it really means a lot, very humbling.”
Slowly but surely, the Astros’ offense is finally living up to its regular-season resume, and it’s not surprising it’s happening when Springer and Correa are in the middle.
“The postseason didn’t really start out for us offensively the way we wanted to,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “These guys in here battle and compete and go about their business and compete and work really hard, and we have all the confidence in the world when we take the field.”