With the Astros up 2-1 in the ALDS, McCullers carried a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning before getting pulled. By the time the inning was over, the Astros were ahead 6-2.
But instead of putting the Royals away that night, the Astros coughed up five runs in the top of the eighth en route to a 9-6 loss. Kansas City would later advance by taking Game 5 at home.
It was a whole lot of deja vu for McCullers during Game 4 of the 2017 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.
This time, McCullers carried a 4-0 lead into the seventh, then allowed a leadoff home run to Aaron Judge and got pulled. The Astros gave up one more run that inning after the right-hander’s exit. Then, McCullers watched another disastrous eighth inning unfold. Houston relievers allowed four runs in the frame en route to a 6-4 Yankees win that knotted the series at two games apiece.
The fortuitous eighth inning Tuesday revolved around these three plays:
Headley finally does something
With Todd Frazier on first base, Headley – who was 1-for-20 this postseason heading into Game 4 – laced a line drive into left-center, then fell down between first and second base. After Carlos Correa sent the relay throw to first base, Headley broke back toward second. That put runners on second and third with nobody out and the Yankees down 4-2.
Recess is over
Joe Musgrove replaced Ken Giles on the mound, and after Frazier scored on a Brett Gardner groundout, Aaron Judge came up to the dish. In the previous frame, Judge had hit a home run, another sign he might be breaking out of his postseason offensive slump.
Judge ripped a double into left field that cashed in the runner from third to make it a tie game, and the Yankees still had two outs to work with. The ball was so close to leaving the yard that some goober leaning over the outfield wall got a hand on it.
Gary Sanchez‘s two-run double put the exclamation point on the inning and the comeback.
Taking a night off behind the plate by starting as the designated hitter, Sanchez cashed in Judge from third as well as Didi Gregorius (who’d hit a single in the previous at-bat).
McCullers is going to start having nightmares about watching the eighth inning of Game 4s if this keeps up.