Whaddaya know? Sports Illustrated was actually right about something! Remember them teasing Houston fans back in 2014 when they predicted the Astros would do something they'd never done in their history - win a World Series? Turns out it came true! The Astros won 101 games, clobbered the hallowed Red Sox, edged the storied Yankees then took out the prestigious Dodgers in seven hard-fought games for their first World's Championship in their franchise's 56-year history. On Wednesday night, they tripped the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 7 of the World Series, winning on the same field where they won their first division crown in 1980.
Heck of a crystal ball!
(c) Sports Illustrated
SI even had the MVP tagged on that 2014 cover as George Springer, homered in his fourth straight Series game to get the honor. He combined stellar defense with a .379 Series batting average.
All of Houston's runs came in the first two innings against former nemesis Yu Darvish whom the Astros crushed easily both in Game 3 and Game 7. After that, the Astros held on through Lance McCullers and four relievers not named Keuchel or Verlander. Charlie Morton, who played a big role in Game 7 of the A.L.C.S., stepped up again by tossing the final four innings to keep L.A. from scoring more than one run in their desperate comeback bid.
Springer started the game in a big way, lashing a double into the left field corner on Darvish's third pitch of the game. Alex Bregman then chopped to first baseman Cody Bellinger who strayed far from the bag so he tossed to Darvish covering first but his throw sailed wide and into the Houston dugout. Springer scored on the error to break the ice.
Bregman swiped third then Jose Altuve also bounced to Bellinger. The rookie thought about throwing home but chose instead to take the sure out at first. Bregman crossed the plate to post a 2-0 lead.
The Dodgers tried to answer against McCullers, smashing a leadoff double while two teammates were hit by pitches. McCullers struck out a pair and then ended the threat with a grounder to second.
Houston added three more tallies in the second due to a walk by Brian McCann and a double by Marwin Gonzalez. McCullers drove in McCann with a weak tap that left only a play to first. Then Springer launched a rocket over the left-centerfield fence for what seemed like an emphatic statement about who'd own the night. That made it 5-zip and, from then on, the Houston bats stayed largely quiet.
Meanwhile, young McCullers gave way after just 2-1/3rd innings and Brad Peacock tossed two scoreless frames himself. Francisco Liriano and Chris Devenski finished up the fifth before Morton kept the Dodgers handcuffed the rest of the way.
Morton did struggle in the sixth and it led to Los Angeles' only run when Andre Either slapped a single past a diving Altuve. Jose did not miss on the last play of the game, though, a chopper off the bat of Corey Seager to start the celebration.
The Astros were outhit, 5-to-6, thanks mostly to the relief work of Clayton Kershaw and friends. Morton, however, made sure those five early runs stood up very well.
The Astros succeeded in becoming the first Texas team to win the Fall Classic. I'll have more to say in the coming weeks but, for now, I'm going to just enjoy the glow and, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to strip down and get into the shower to spray champagne all over myself #WOO! Waiting 56 years for something does make you want to do something zany.
- Bob Hulsey