Alex Bregman pushed the Astros one win from the title with his extra-inning nerve in an epic World Series Game 5.
Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are in the center of everything for the Astros.
George Springer won an epic World Series game with the home run of his childhood dreams. And he hit an incredible five home runs in World Series overall.
Justin Verlander delivered so many huge moments for the Houston Astros this postseason.
The Houston Astros are heading to the World Series — and partying like it's 2005.
Brad Peacock turned back the mighty Dodgers with a save for the ages in Game 3 of the World Series. And he'd be called on again out of the bullpen in Game 7.
Lance McCullers will be back next season.
Alex Bregman delivered the biggest Astros blows against Red Sox ace Chris Sale and he took Clayton Kershaw deep too. Call him the ace crusher.
Mattress Mack stepped up for Houston during Hurricane Harvey — and he had an Astros playoff moment. (Photo @MarkBermanFox26.)
Houston Astros' division clinch day brought champagne and Budweiser showers — and a sweet Justin Verlander and Kate Upton kiss.
Astro cheerleaders Kayla Vittori and Amanda Myers
Jose Altuve is a dominant MVP force for the Houston Astros.
Jim Crane runs the Houston Astros with a strict business tycoon's supreme discipline. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan.)
Ethan Hawke really would love to see an Astros game at Minute Maid Park. (Photo by F. Carter Smith.)
It’s almost 2 a.m. by the time many of the Houston Astros leave the clubhouse, Sunday night having bled into one of the most wondrous Mondays that this city has ever seen. Who’s going to work? Who needs school? The Astros are one win from the first major pro sports championship for Houston in 22 years. With Justin Verlander set to take the mound.
And oh, how they get there, refusing to lose the most epic, ridiculous, magical, exhausting World Series game in history. They’ve played 113 of these fall classics and there’s never been a game anything quite like this.
“Crazy game,” Astros center fielder George Springer says when reporters are first let into the Astros clubhouse. “Crazy, crazy game.”
Later, with the clock ticking toward 2 in the morning, a reporter compliments Springer on his hair. Just because? “It’s owner needs a nap right now,” he shoots back.
Who doesn’t after this 13-12 Astros win in 10 innings? Game 5 unfurls over five hours and 17 minutes, throws more plot twists at us than the Trump presidency, features five Houston home runs each one seemingly more epic than the last, and finally ends when Alex Bregman muscles a cutter from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen over shortstop and into left field — and the 24th Man on the Astros roster (pinch runner Derek Fisher) races in from second with the winning run. Make that the series-shaking run.
Of course, it has to be Bregman to end the game that just won’t end. When everyone else feels the weight of the most pressurized moments in sports with the force an astronaut coming back to earth, the Astros’ 23-year-old gym rat of a baseball player just takes off.
“He has this odd aura about him,” Springer says of Bregman. “Very confident. Very, very confident. He always has a plan. He dug in a little bit on that last at-bat.”
And the heavily-favored, 104-win Los Angeles Dodgers now have to dig out of a 3-2 series hole if they want to deny the Astros the first baseball championship in this city’s history.
What Blown Save?
This could have turned out so differently for these Astros. They blow every bit of a 12-9 lead in the ninth, they run into their worst nightmare for the second straight night. But they just keep battling, just keep going, just keep swinging hard for each other. And there is Bregman getting mobbed as Minute Maid Park erupts in cataclysmic joy all around him.
“Just pure joy,” Bregman says, reliving the scene later. “Because when you look around you and you see the smiles on your teammates’ face, it makes everything worth it. It makes every weight that you lifted in the offseason, every swing that you took in the cage, worth it.”
No one puts more swings in than Bregman. Maybe, he figures he needs to in order to keep up with all the young mega stars around him in the lineup. Only this team with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Springer could chase the best pitcher in baseball from the most important game of the season, fall back behind 7-4 in no time, come back to tie it, then take the lead, then build the lead, only to see it all disappear in the ninth… and still come back and win it.
“I’ve never seen anything like that ever,” Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel says. “The highs, the lows, everything happened out there. It was an epic win. What can you say about our offense?”
If you produced this type of score in a Playstation baseball video game, you’d walk away shaking your head at the screen, and declare it unrealistic. The Astros do it with the damn World Series on the line.
“He has this odd aura about him,” Springer says of Bregman.
They do it because Altuve shrugs off a mini slump (1 for 9 in Games 3 and 4), the only kind of “slump” he ever has, and goes 3 for 5 with the biggest home run of the game and a tie-breaking double.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” Correa says. “When he goes out there, I expect great things to happen. He’s the best player alive right now. And when he steps in the batter’s box, great things are going to happen.”
Are you championship worthy?
The best hitter in baseball will not take no for an answer. Altuve hits a three-run blast to tie the game at 7 in the fifth inning. He laces a double into the gap to give the Astros a 9-8 lead, their first lead of the night, in the seventh. These Astros will not take no for an answer.
With their season teetering toward the edge of extinction, with the Dodgers all but already tasting the champagne baths of their future, the Astros hit four epic home runs to completely change everything. Yuli Gurriel off Clayton Kershaw. Altuve. Springer. Correa. Each of Houston’s stars steps up to hit a blast fit to be immortalized.
Some of the most legendary World Series games of all time are remembered for one epic home run. These Astros hit four in a four inning span.
Then, veteran catcher Brian McCann adds another one in the bottom of the eighth that looks like an insurance run, but turns into the run that allows the Astros to survive into extra innings for Bregman to win it.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words on how to describe it,” Astros pitcher Collin McHugh says. “That scene… I’ve never seen a baseball game like that, and a team that plays like ours. This game, this series… it just gives me a lot pf pride to be part of this team. These guys are incredible.”
When a streaker in bedazzled American flag underwear gets out onto the field after Correa’s home run makes it 11-8, and security starts chasing him, Verlander is laughing about in the dugout. It is that kind of night for the Houston Astros. The type of night world championships are made of.
When it’s over, rapper Travis Scott walks past the line of reporters waiting to be let into the Astros clubhouse and hollers out, “I told you all. I told you all!” Before the game, Scott told anyone who’d listen that he dreamed the Astros would win Game 5. Before Scott does his walk of pride, Astros Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell comes down the same hall with his family, marveling at what he’d just seen.
“It was crazy,” Bagwell says.
Then, it’s Bob Costas’ turn — and Costas, still looking closer to 40 than his actual 65 age — is animatedly talking about the wild, weird game too. It’s that kind of night. Everyone wants to say they are a witness. And you can bet that a lot more than 43,330 who actually squeezed into Minute Maid Park will claim they were there in the years to come.
So many moments. So much drama.
The Dodgers hand the highest-paid player in baseball a four-run lead in his home state, and Clayton Kershaw cannot come close to holding it. Not with Gurriel taking Kershaw deep in one of the more spectacularly unexpected moments in Minute Maid Park history.
There is no excusing the racist gesture Gurriel directed at Dodgers starter Yu Darvish after his earlier Game 3 homer, but there’s also no denying the love his teammates have for him. The Astros get a daily kick out of this 33-year-old professional hitter from Cuba with the wild, up-in-the-air hair and the easygoing demeanor. Bregman kept talking about Gurriel’s “heart” the other night.
And with all the pressure that the furor over his actions, the World Series and a Game 5 brings, Gurriel shows plenty of heart on an unforgettable Sunday night in downtown Houston. As soon as Gurriel hits his bullet to center off Kershaw, he seems to know it’s gone. Gurriel takes a long moment to admire the flight of his blast before getting out of the batter’s box.
But the moment doesn’t last long for the Astros. There are Tinder relationships that last longer than this Houston good feeling. The Dodgers strike right back in the top of the fifth, going up 7-4 on suddenly sizzling slugger Cody Bellinger’s three-run blast.
As Bellinger crosses home plate, he puts his finger to his lips, shushing the Astros crowd — and drawing big laughs from his teammates.
He who laughs last?
The Astros grab the final smiles by the hair on the chinny chin chins. The two teams combine for an unfathomable 25 runs, 28 hits, seven home runs, eight doubles and enough mysteries to keep the kids on Stranger Things busy for a whole other season. “Those were some terrible pitching performances across the board,” laughs Keuchel, whose own struggle of a start seems like it happened in a whole other game by the time this thing is over.
Houston is the last team standing in the last game Minute Maid will see this season because Altuve, Correa and Springer won’t stop mashing. Because Alex Bregman has just as much belief in himself as Travis Scott or any other rap superstar has in himself.
“Bregman brings that full honey, that added swag,” Keuchel says. “From day one, he knew he belonged here.”
The kid who always pretended to be Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter growing up (that’s why Bregman wears No. 2) delivers in the pressure cauldron of the World Series, turns himself into an all-time Houston sports hero. As the ball smacks into an open piece of outfield grass, Bregman throws his arms to the side, almost like he’s a bird taking flight. But as soon as Fisher cross home, Bregman is swallowed up by a mob of running, giddy teammates. What confidence. What a game. What a team.
Who needs sleep? What’s work? Who can go to school? There’s a championship to be won.