The official student newspaper at the University of Houston-Clear Lake

For the first time ever, the Astros are baseball’s best

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What a season! The Houston Astros won their first World Series Championship in franchise history Nov. 1 by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games, celebrating on the Dodger Stadium field in front of thousands of Dodger fans.

As an Astros fan who has followed the team almost my whole life and watched them endure multiple 100-loss seasons, watching them secure the final out in game seven was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had.

I’m usually not one to say I told you so, but I did call the Astros winning the World Series in seven games in my season preview I wrote back in February. Sports Illustrated even picked the Astros to win the 2017 World Series back in 2014, when the team finished fourth in its division, with a bold prediction on their magazine cover. Rookie George Springer was on this 2014 cover, who turned out to be the 2017 World Series MVP for the Astros.

Maybe the most impressive thing about the Astros’ epic 2017 postseason run was that they beat the three highest payroll teams in baseball in order: the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Dodgers.

Justin Verlander pitching in Game 2 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. Photo courtesy of The Signal reporter Katherine Rodriguez.

General Manager Jeff Luhnow also deserves a ton of credit for recognizing that the Astros needed a great starting pitcher to help push them through the postseason. I believe the turning point of this season was trading for former American League M.V.P. Justin Verlander, who still had a lot left in the tank at 34 years old, despite rumors that he was washed up. Verlander saved his best baseball for the Astros as he went 4-1 with a 2.21 E.R.A in the postseason, including a complete game shutout against the Yankees that helped him win ALCS M.V.P.

The Astros’ belief in their talent in the postseason was something that never wavered, even when they were on the brink of elimination. After winning the first two games against the Yankees in the ALCS, the Astros went to New York on lost three games in a row, which is usually a death sentence in any postseason sport. The team went on to win two elimination games in a row to advance to the World Series.

Many have called the 2017 World Series the greatest one in the history of the game due to the back and forth nature and onslaught of offense, particularly in games two and five.

In Game 2, the Astros trailed by one run in the final inning and faced going down 0-2 in the series before Marwin Gonzalez tied the game with a home run. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Springer would go on to hit home runs in extra innings to secure the win. I thought this was the greatest game I had ever seen, until I watched Game 5.

The Astros’ Game 5 comeback after being down 0-4 in the fourth inning was probably the most unlikely comeback I have ever seen in baseball, primarily because they were facing arguably the greatest pitcher of this generation in Clayton Kershaw. If you spot Kershaw a four run lead, the game is typically considered over. The problem, however, was that nobody told this to the Astros’ hitters.

Rookie standout first baseman Yulieski Gurriel launched a three-run home run off Kershaw to tie the game. The very next inning, the Astros trailed by three again and Altuve also hit a 3-run home run to tie the game at seven. The game would continue to go back and forth between the two teams before Alex Bregman hit a walk-off single to win the game for the Astros in extra innings, 13-12.

The Astros had all the momentum on their side going into Game 6 with Verlander on the mound and a chance to put the Dodgers away, which was why I was surprised when they lost. With how dramatic the series had been, however, it only seemed fitting that it would come down to a winner-take-all Game 7.

George Springer truly earned his series M.V.P award in the most important game in Astros history, as he set the tone early with a double (he ended up scoring) and a two-run home run that put the game away for good.

After all that Houston has been through in the last few months, the Astros could not have picked a better time to win their first championship.

Looking Ahead

I think the Astros will look to acquire at least one really good relief pitcher because the bullpen was the team’s biggest weakness in the postseason and cost them many leads. What is scary for the rest of the league is that the Astros will bring back almost their whole team next year because they are not losing any key players to free agency. I already can’t wait for Spring Training to start so we can watch this team go back to back like Jordan, 96-97.

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