THE ASTROS DID IT! In front of their people at Minute Maid Park, they won the sixth game of the American League Championship Series 5-0 against the Red Sox and secured their third World Series appearance in the last five years. Luis García, Yordan Álvarez, Kyle Tucker, and their bullpen were the keys en route to a memorable win.
The team that everybody wants to beat. The team that fell 2-1 in the series at Fenway. The team that lost George Springer in free agency. The team that lost Justin Verlander for the entire season, didn’t have Framber Valdez for the first two months of the campaign, and whose stellar third baseman played only 91 games in an injury-plagued year. The team that had bullpen struggles, the team that lost Lance McCullers Jr. in the ALDS.
THAT TEAM WAS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE.
But the Astros’ fourth pennant in franchise history couldn’t have been possible without tonight’s efforts. And we have to start with García’s priceless night on the mound. He just outpitched Nathan Eovaldi and stymied Boston over 5 2/3 shutout innings of one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts to get the win and give the Astros a huge chance.
García didn’t allow that sole hit until the sixth inning, with two men out, a triple by Kiké Hernández. The 24-year-old rookie became the fifth pitcher in postseason history to go at least five innings and allow one or fewer hits despite being 25 years old or younger — the other fourth are Ed Reulbach (1906), Kevin Milwood (1999), Michael Wacha (2013), and Bryse Wilson (2020).
But besides García, the Astros also did a wonderful job in terms of hitting and defense. Yordan was the man in front of the lineup and hit an RBI double in the first inning to crack the scoreboard 1-0. García held the lead and Álvarez scored the second run of the game in the sixth with Tucker hitting for a double play.
Álvarez was crowned as the ALCS MVP, a HUGE accomplishment after missing almost the entire 2020 season due to surgery in both knees. He finished the night 4-for-4 (single, two doubles, triple) and fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Through the series, Yordan was 12-for-23 with three doubles, one triple, one homer, six runs batted in, seven scored runs, and a .522 batting average.
Goodness... Yordan Álvarez is now 4-4 tonight pic.twitter.com/xqsZ0D4hlH— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 23, 2021
The score was 2-0 and the bullpen had the game in its hands. After Phil Maton got the zero with Hernández left on third base to end the sixth, Dusty Baker brought Kendall Graveman for the seventh. The righty got in trouble despite striking out Xander Bogaerts to begin the frame, as he walked JD Martínez and allowed a single to Alex Verdugo. What followed was a key play: in a six-pitch at-bat, Graveman struck out Travis Shaw and Martín Maldonado caught Verdugo trying to steal second base. An exclamation point to leave the Astros six outs away from the golden ticket.
The eighth was another special inning for Houston, who outscored the Red Sox 22-1 since the eighth inning of Game 4. Ryne Stanek retired the side and, offensively, Tucker hit a three-run bomb to make it 5-0 and cause a crazy, beautiful environment between Astros and their 42,718 fans at Minute Maid Park.
Then, it was Ryan Pressly’s turn. With only nine pitches to Hernández, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts, the closer shut the door for Boston and sent his team to baseball’s promised land: THE WORLD SERIES! Now the Astros need to wait for the Braves or the Dodgers to see who they’re going to face in the Fall Classic. But tonight it’s time to celebrate! You deserve it, Astros fans!