HOUSTON – Now that Astros playoff magic has been rekindled, we thought it'd be fun to look at three moments of Sunday night's game that carried echoes from key moments from the team's 2017 World Series run.
Buckle up for some nostalgia, countdown style!
3.) Correa gunning down LeMahieu recalls Bregman and McCann's heads-up heroics in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS
There were some spectacular defensive plays by both teams on Sunday night, but none as consequential as Carlos Correa's run-stealer. It echoed an outstanding defensive play by Alex Bregman and Brian McCann during the 2017 playoff run. During Game 7 of the ALCS that year against the Yankees, appropriately enough -- Bregman fielded a tough chopper well inside the third-base line with only one out and Yankees first baseman Greg Bird charging from third to home.
Rather than throw to first, Bregman made the heads-up decision to rifle the throw to Astros catcher Brian McCann and tag Bird just before he was able to score. It was a perfectly-timed play by both Bregman and McCann that gave the Yankees an out instead of a run and arguably blunted any momentum the Yankees could have mustered.
2. Correa walks off against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS -- twice!
This one's been discussed to death, but it's still worth mentioning. Correa's walk-off home run off J.A. Happ in the bottom of the 11th inning on Sunday night wasn't the first time he finished off the Yankees in a Game 2 of an ALCS.
During their World Series-winning run two years ago, the Astros found themselves tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth with Altuve on first base and Correa at the plate. On a full count, Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman delivered a 99 mph fastball low and away, and Correa was able to sweep it into the right-center field, giving Altuve ample time to round the bases and score.
Two years later, Correa one-upped himself with another walk-off hit to right-center in an ALCS Game 2 versus the Yankees, only this time, he put it over the fence.
1. George Springer makes Adam Ottavino look like Brandon Morrow
OK, the Correa walk-off seems like a default No. 1, but this one wins in my mind, just for plain eerie visual synchronicity. It was seriously like watching Game 5 against the Dodgers on replay.
In both situations, the Astros were down by one. In both situations, Springer crushed the first-pitch offering. Granted, Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino threw an 82 mph slider, while Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow offered a 91-mph cutter. But both hung well over the plate, and the result was the same.
The trajectory was the same, the camera angles were the same and most notably, the pitcher reactions were the same. Ottavino's immediate drop of the head recalled Morrow's stunned silence. Both pitchers stared in the exact same direction, away from the 400-plus-foot bombs they had just surrendered. Springer's pumped fists as he rounded first, the congratulations from third base coach Gary Pettis, the high fives in the dugout -- they all seemed as if they could've been pulled from the archives.
The Correa walk-off sealed the deal, but the unmistakable visual recall of Springer's bomb was the first moment that made me feel that Astros' magic might finally be on the horizon.
Watch the two moments side by side for maximum deja vu.