Astros Face Mission Improbable -- Not Impossible -- In World Championship Bid

© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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Having dropped the first two games of the World Series -- at home -- to the wild-card Washington Nationals, the Astros are now headed to the Nation's Capital, looking to start what would be a rare rebound to claim a world championship despite losing the first two games at home.

The Astros are only the 14th team to open the World Series by losing the first two games at home. Ten of the previous 13 have lost the World Series. The three that rallied?

-- The 1985 Kansas City Royals against the St. Louis Cardinals.

-- The 1986 New York Mets against the Boston Red Sox.

-- The 1996 New York Yankees against the Atlanta Braves.

The 1985 Royals were the first team to ever overcome losing the first two games of a World Series at home and rebounding to win a world championship. The Series turned around the ninth inning of Game 6 when the Royals, trailing 1-0, rallied for two controversial runs in the bottom of the ninth.

The Cardinals and their fans still hold the loss against umpire Don Denkinger, who was blocked out of a clear view of first base, and called Hal McRae safe to open the bottom of the ninth. Replays showed McRae was out, as Denkinger would later admit.

Just the same, the Royals only scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth because catcher Darrell Porter scratched his nose and pitcher Todd Worrell thought Porter was signaling to change the pitch selection, and first baseman Jack Clark misplayed a routine pop foul that landed in front of the Cardinals dugout.

And then came the ultimate meltdown in Game 7. The Cardinals, who set a 7-game World Series record by scoring only 13 runs, were blown out in a meltdown by their two key pitchers -- John Tudor, who started, and Joaquin Andujar, who came on in relief.

The Royals, meanwhile, had dominating starting pitcher from the trio of Bret Saberhagen, Danny Jackson and Charlie Leibrandt. They worked a combined 50 1/3 innings of 62 innings in the World Series with a combined ERA to 1.61. Saberhagen allowed one run in two complete games, including the Game 7 victory. Jackson allowed three runs in 16 innings of two starts. Leibrandt gave up five runs in 16 1/3 innings.

A year later, the seven-game miracle was repeated, the Mets rallying against the Red Sox. And while they had to win Game 7, the focal point of this comeback was Game 6 in which Gary Carter delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, and then, with the Red Sox having taken a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th things unraveled for the Red Sox.

With two out in the bottom of the 10th, the Mets rallied for three runs, the last of which scored when Mookie Wilson's slow-rolling ground ball went between the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, which led to second-guess manager John McNamara for not putting Dave Stapleton in as a defensive replacement at first base.

But was in the eighth inning, not the 10th, that was the real nightmare for the Red Sox and their fan base?

Trialing by a run in the eighth, Lee Mazzilli turned a two-strike pitch into a single. The Mets then benefited from Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi fielding a Lenny Dykstra bunt, and going to second for a possible force of Mazzilli but making a throw shortstop Spike Owen couldn't handle. That put to men on, and Wally Backman moved them up a base with a sacrifice bunt.

After Keith Hernandez drew an intentional walk, Gary Carter lined to center, allowing Mazzilli to score the tying run ahead of Darryl Strawberry's inning-ending strikeout.

The Yankees not only lost the first two games of the 1996 World Series to the Atlanta Braves at Yankee Stadium, but they were outscored 16-1 in the process. The Yankees, however, seemed revived when the World Series resumed in Atlanta for Games 3-4-5. With a three-run eighth inning, they won Game 3, 5-2, and then rallied from a 6-0 deficit at the end of five innings in Game 5, putting together three-run rallies in the sixth and eighth innings, tying the game at 6-6, which led to extra innings. Now, however, for long. With two out in the 10th, Braves managed Bobby Cox ordered Bernie Williams intentionally walked to load the bases. Before the inning was over, however, Wade Boggs drew an unintentional walk to forced home one run and a Ryan Klesko error allowed the final run of what was an 8-6 Yankees victory to score.

Andy Pettitte was the man in control in Game five, allowing five hits in 8 1/3 innings of a 1-0 win, the only run scoring when Cecil Fielder doubled home Charlie Hayes in the fourth inning, and the Yankees headed back to Yankee Stadium, looking to avenge the losses in Games 1 and 2.

And they responded. They got to Braves pitcher Greg Maddux for three runs in the third inning, and Jimmy Key, with ninth-inning help from John Wetteland, who registered his fourth save in a row, made those three runs stand up, allowing the Yankees to become World Champions.

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