by Patrick Gustavson
For the first time in their 65-year history, the Houston Astros are World Series champions. This is the same team that was a laughing stock just four years ago, losing 100 games each season from 2010-2014. But they stuck to their rebuilding plan, and had it pay off even sooner than expected.
This World Series was filled with excitement, close games, big plays and even a bit of controversy, and for the second straight year, came down to a do-or-die game seven.
The Dodgers roared into the series, only losing one game in their previous two series, as opposed to the Astros, who were down 3-2 against the Yankees, and had to stage an epic comeback to even reach the Fall Classic.
The series featured two of the most exciting games in recent memory, starting with game two. The Astros clung to a 1-0 lead, when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled his starter, Rich Hill in the fourth inning, having only thrown 60 pitches. This would prove fatal in what would become a back-and-forth battle. The Dodgers then managed to pull ahead 3-1 when Joc Pederson and Corey (neither of whom were on the NLCS roster) homered off Justin Verlander. The Astros scored two in the top of the ninth to tie things up at three.
The Astros then went up by two in the tenth, but were thwarted when the Dodgers tied things up. But it was future World Series MVP George Springer with the go-ahead two-run homerun in the top of the eleventh, leading the ‘Stros to a 7-6 victory. Game two saw a World Series-record eight homeruns. This was not even the best game of the series.
Game three was the source of some controversy. Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel homered off Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. He proceeded to make slant-eyes towards Darvish from the dugout, a clearly racially insensitive gesture. It was clear that this deserved punishment. Commissioner Rob Manfred opted to suspend Gurriel for five games. However, this would not be implemented until the start of next season, allowing him to continue to play in the World Series. This decision was highly criticized. However, Gurriel would get what he deserved when he was viciously booed when the series returned to Dodgers’ Stadium.
On to game five, with the series tied at two games apiece. The Dodgers jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind ace Clayton Kershaw. The Astros got to him for four runs in the bottom of the fourth, led by a three-run homerun from Gurriel. The Dodgers responded with a three-run homerun of their own from struggling star Cody Bellinger, but the Astros responded when likely AL MVP Jose Altuve hit yet another three-run homerun. The game was now tied at seven after five.
Things continued to escalate with the Astros ahead 12-9 following the eighth inning. Only needing three outs, it appeared they would gain the advantage in the series. But a two-run shot from Yasiel Puig topped off by a base hit from Chris Taylor, tied the game yet again.
The game ended on an RBI single by Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman in the bottom of the tenth, capping off what might be the best game of all-time. Social media blew up, with fans of all teams sharing their enthusiasm for the game, and the series in general.
Following a game-six Dodger win, the series was heading to game seven. In a less-than exciting game, the Astros took the series with a 5-1 win, aided by four strong innings of relief from Charlie Morton. Following the game, shortstop Carlos Correa proposed to his long-time girlfriend, and it was revealed that Verlander would be marrying model Kate Upton. Those two got multiple rings in one night they will never forget.
The future looks just as bright for the World Champions. They have most of their offensive core under control for the next few years, and they won’t be losing any significant pieces this offseason. Led by Altuve, Springer, Correa and Bregman, among many others, this will be a team with a chance to return to many more Fall Classics.