Sports Illustrated saw this coming in 2014. I saw it coming in March. Now, the Astros have advanced to the World Series to face the Dodgers after winning a thrilling Game 7 Saturday night in Houston.
The Yankees will most certainly be back, led by young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez among others who are guaranteed to be a big part of the future baseball landscape. For now though – its the Astros and the pint sized MVP Jose Altuve who carried the day and the series.
After Justin Verlander had led the Astros once again in Game 6, Game 7 starting duties fell to Charlie Morton. He pitched well in holding down the Yankees offense and giving his offense a chance to score. Evan Gattis “El Oso Blanco” got things going with a home run to left before Altuve once again struck with a home run of his own. The big blow though came when Brian McCann doubled in two more runs to put the Astros up 4-0.
Lance McCullers Jr came on in relief of Charlie Morton after 5 innings and pitched the final 4, striking out 6 with just one hit allowed and 0 runs. It was a great performance and for all the talk about the lack of an Astros bullpen – it held together enough this night.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia – how many post seasons does he have left? – only managed to pitch into the 4th inning and allowed 5 hits and 3 walks. Reliever Tommy Kahnle had his worst outing in awhile as he allowed 3 runs in just 1 1/3 innings. Adam Warren and David Robertson managed to hold the Astros scoreless the rest of the way, but it was too late.
As for the World Series – the Dodgers are certainly a formidable opponent. The Astros saw their vaunted offense disappear for a few games but got it back in the end. They also create another series where the home team won all of their games -which could hurt them as the Dodgers held on to overall home field advantage by 3 wins as they finished the season on an 8-2 run.
Jason Verlander versus Clayton Kershaw should be an instant classic from a pitching standpoint. Verlander won the ALCS MVP Award and in his career is 11-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 123 innings compared to a regular season ERA of 3.46. Verlander appeared in the World Series with the Tigers in 2006 and 2012.
Kershaw of course is 6-7 with an ERA of 4.40 in 106 innings. That 4.4 ERA is a far cry from his regular season ERA of 2.36. He has more backup this time around though, with Yu Darvish pitching as well and Alex Wood and veteran Rich Hill also able to carry the load.
The Astros are looking of course for their first franchise World Series championship despite being around since 1962. They lost the 2005 World Series to the White Sox and suffered a long rebuilding route to get back to being competitive. The Dodgers of course last appeared in the World Series in 1988 when they defeated the Oakland A’s. They have been the largest payroll in baseball for the last several years to get back to this level.
They are now – can they finish it?