After scandal and underwhelming season, Astros return to fourth straight ALCS

Maybe the Houston Astros were saving their best for this moment, when they knew everyone would be watching and collectively rooting for their demise.

On the heels of the sign-stealing scandal and a lackluster regular season, baseball's villains punched their ticket to their fourth straight American League Championship Series. The Astros advanced with an 11-6 win against the Oakland A's in Game 4 of the ALDS.

Houston will now be the first team in MLB history to reach the final four after posting a losing record (29-31) during the regular season. In the postseason, they've gone 5-1 and eliminated two division champions — the Twins and A's.

After a slow start in Game 4, Houston erupted for five runs in the fourth inning on home runs by Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa. Brantley's two-run blast got Houston on the board. Correa capped the rally with a three-run shot and a five-star bat flip.

The rally came directly after Josh Reddick robbed Matt Olson of a solo home run and the A’s of a 4-0 lead.

Houston scored two runs each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to extend the lead. Brantley added a second home run, which pushed the series into uncharted territory. Jose Altuve punctuated the series with a two-run blast in the seventh.

Oakland had jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Ramón Laureano's three-run home run against Astros' starter Zack Greinke.

The blast created a lot of buzz, and not just because it traveled well over 400 feet. Greinke was caught signaling to catcher Martin Maldonado in a manner that left many questioning whether the veteran was willingly tipping his pitches.

After Greinke’s exit, Houston’s bullpen, led by rookie Cristian Javier, combined for 4 2/3 inning of two-run ball to close out the series.

The Astros will meet either the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS. The Astros eliminated both in the 2019 postseason, taking out the Rays in five games during the ALDS and the Yankees in six games during the ALCS.

The Rays currently lead that series 2-1.

The Houston Astros secured their fourth straight ALCS appearance after defeating the Oakland A's in ALDS Game 4.
The Houston Astros secured their fourth straight ALCS appearance after defeating the Oakland A's in ALDS Game 4. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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