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Astros' backs against the wall, but season far from over

Lance McCullers Jr. reacts as he exits the game against the New York Yankees in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 17, 2017, in the Bronx of New York.
Lance McCullers Jr. reacts as he exits the game against the New York Yankees in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 17, 2017, in the Bronx of New York. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – This 2017 campaign has been a storybook season for the Astros, but the final chapter has yet to be written.

The World Series dream remains alive, but there is work to do between now and Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

History is not on the Astros' side, as stats show in series tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the series 70 percent of the time.

OK. Enough of that!

The Astros breezed through Boston in the American League Division Series and appeared to be on their way to doing the same against New York after back-to-back 2-1 wins in the first two games. Two wins over the Yankees and this Astros club was riding momentum to the Big Apple -- or so we thought.

Where is that top-ranked offense? A lot of Astros and fans would like to know.

The struggles in Games 3, 4 and 5 were tough to watch and resembled what we saw back in the day, when the Astros and Braves tangled in the postseason and Houston's offense was handcuffed by Glavine and Smoltz.

Through five games, the New York pitching staff has limited the Astros to a mere nine runs. With runners in scoring position, it has been anemic.

So, how do they bounce back? Take today as the off-day they have been granted and clear their minds. Don't think about baseball until they wake up Friday morning. At that point, lock in on what lies ahead, look in the mirror and get to work 

Remember, as A.J. Hinch put it Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, "It's the first-to-four wins, and nobody is there yet."

Friday there is a new hope and a confidence that can be regained for a team that has won 106 games this season.

The Astros are back home at Minute Maid Park and, like the Yankees enjoyed, they too will have a rowdy fan base ready to make a difference.

Add in Justin Verlander, who will start and hasn't lost since he arrived in Houston, and it should be a night that produces a win and ties this series. Then, it is on to Game 7, where a trip to the World Series will be on the line.

The Astros may be down, but they are far from being done. I like their chances at rebounding in Game 6 against Luis Serverino, and I also believe they will take care of business in a Saturday Game 7.

This offense is more than due, and it is about to break out.

Their motto all season has been simple -- earn it.  

They will this weekend, and in doing so, punch their ticket to their first World Series since 2005.

Let's all enjoy the ride. It's not over yet. This last chapter will be fun to witness.

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