As we bask in the afterglow of the Astros’ first World Series win, let’s take a moment to look back at the five best games of 2017. Which ones will we remember in 20 years? Which ones will instantly bring us back to this magical season and remind us of how much fun this team was?
Which games were your absolutely favorites? Here are my top five games.
5. The Rangers sweep
It’s the first entry on this list and I’m already breaking my own rules. This is less one game and more about the whole series.
It was super, super nice to sweep the Rangers the first time Houston played them in 2017. That series, May 1-3, Houston outscored South Oklahoma’s team 24-10. They polished it off with a 10-1 shellacking that sent the Rangers to a horrendous 11-17 record. With Houston already sitting at 19-10, the Astros had a nice eight game lead over the 2016 division champs and it was May 3.
What? Hmm? I’m sorry, I’m getting something in my earpiece.
It turns out “people” are saying that there was another “game” in this “series,” that Houston didn’t “sweep” the Rangers because Arlington won “the fourth game.” Also, they’re saying that “I” don’t know how to use “quotation marks.”
No matter. Given Houston’s struggles against the Rangers in the previous two years, it was oh so sweet to jump on them early and never really let up this year.
4. Memorial Day in Minnesota
I feel like this may be met with resistance in the comments, but this one was a favorite for the circumstances and the outcome together.
Like many of you, I was watching this game on a lazy Memorial Day afternoon. The house was clean, the lawn mowed and baseball was going to take me home.
Except the Twins laid Houston out. Future staff ace Brad Peacock was staked to a slim 2-0 lead, but promptly gave it up. By the end of the fifth, Houston was trailing 7-2 and Jordan Jankowski was in the game.
That’s when I headed to the movies with the family.
Little did I know Houston would score 11 runs in the top of the eighth, adding three more in the ninth for good measure and completely storm back against the upstart Twins.
It was unbelievable. I remember walking into the Star Cinema Grill we were seeing the movie at and the game was still on. I was quite surprised. I assumed things would have been wrapped up by the time we actually got there.
Nope. It wasn’t the first time Houston reached into its bag of magic this season, but it was a notice of sorts. The Astros should never, ever be counted out.
3. Clinching the AL West
By chance, earlier in the summer, a group I’m involved in was buying tickets to an Astros game. They picked Sept. 17 back in May.
Little did they know that Sept. 17 would turn out to be the day Justin Verlander made his first start in Houston. It was also the game where the Astros clinched the AL West title.
It was much like the Astros run after trading for the big righthander. They hit some dingers. They played great defense. Verlander struck some fools out.
The highlight was staying after the game to see all the players celebrating on the field. Jake Marisnick even came onto the field with his hand in a cast to share in the revelry.
It was a sign of revelry to come.
2. The Verlander Game
Lordy, lordy. I’ve already written about this. Given the frequency of my posting lately on this fine site, I feel it best not to repeat myself too much on the matter.
Suffice it to say, that was one of the best pitched games by an Astro in team history. It’s right up there with Mike Scott’s no-hitter to clinch the division in ‘86. Verlander was masterful. It was even better because he did it at home. The crowd got to lose their minds when he came back out for the ninth.
Then Altuve made his Mad Dash to the plate and this game got sealed into history.
1. Game 5 of the World Series
The best game of this season for the Astros was almost the worst. Going down 3 games to 2 and heading back to Los Angeles would have been the worst. That’s almost what happened, too, with the Astros down four runs and Clayton Kershaw blowing through the first three innings of the game.
That’s when whatever magic Houston sprinkled over this 2017 season kicked in once again. Runs came fast and furious as Houston roared back to take a lead.
If this series was a prize fight, this game was the Rumble in the Jungle. Houston’s rope-a-dope came perilously close to breaking them. They absorbed body blow after body blow. First, that ball Springer couldn’t get to in center, that scooted by him for an RBI triple. Then, Puig’s two run Crawford Boxes special.
It was nonstop, haymaker following haymaker.
But, ultimately, it was Houston that knocked Foreman to the canvas. Alex Bregman plated Derek Fisher well after midnight.
This is the game that will keep us all warm through the long winter. I know I won’t have to stare out the window waiting for spring. I’ll just pop in the DVD of this game and bask in the warmth of the best game Houston played in 2017.