The Houston Astros are back. They are back in the World Series for the third time in five years, and when you look back at their historical run in 2017, you notice how much the cast has changed and improved over the years.
Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel are no longer contributors to the franchise, but the Astros have struck gold in homegrown talent from Kyle Tucker to Yordan Alvarez to their rookie outfield platoon plus Jose Siri.
While taking home their third pennant in five years, this one is much different. It is the first for general manger James Click, while also the first American League pennant for tenured manager Dusty Baker.
With the Astros clinching their third American League pennant in five years, there are a few things to hit on from the ALCS.
Dusty Baker could go out a World Series Champion.
While on his final year on the books, Baker, 72, has yet to win a World Series as a manager. In 2002, he took his San Francisco Giants to the World Series, while inevitably losing to the Los Angeles Angels in seven games.
The last time he managed a World Series game, his son, Darren, was the Giants’ bat boy that was almost struck J.T Snow at the plate. Darren, who is now 22-years-old, is in the Washington Nationals’ system.
Baker has ties to the current National League Championship Series as well. The former outfielder was on-deck when Atlanta Braves legend and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron struck his 715th home run. Now, the Braves are commemorating the life of Aaron after his passing in January.
Baker was also a Los Angeles Dodger, as he invented the high five while a member of the ball club. The Dodgers’ current pitching coach, Mark Prior, was a rotational hand for Baker in the early 2000s, when both were with the Chicago Cubs.
Yordan Alvarez creates his own group in route to ALCS MVP.
After his first-inning RBI-double, it was evident Yordan Alvarez was on his way to an ALCS MVP, if the Astros were to clinch. They did, and Alvarez became the first player in the postseason to out-hit an opposing team in the final two games of the series (Alvarez 7, Red Sox 2).
In 23 at-bats, Alvarez slashed .522/.538/.870 with six RBI, a home run, a triple and three doubles. The left-hander did it all as the Astros’ designated hitter, giving himself his best slash line in his postseason career thus far.
Martin Maldonado proved to everyone why he starts.
In the seventh inning, Kendall Graveman found himself in a little trouble once again with runners at the corners. Travis Shaw stepped in, and while striking out, Martin Maldonado cut down Alex Verdugo trying to steal second to end the inning.
We all know Maldonado starts because of his leadership and defensive attributes behind the dish, and with a lineup consisting of All-Star caliber hitters one through seven, the Astros look just fine sacrificing a bat for defense.
Luis Garcia increased his velocity, while tossing a no-hitter into the sixth.
Back-to-back rough outings opened the ALCS for the Astros, while two dominant starts closed out the series from the same arms. Like Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia was dealing the entire game, and as his velocity ticked up, the right-hander said, “I showed against Cleveland earlier in the year. I hit 97. I know I can throw gas.”
Garcia finished his night after allowing a triple to Hernandez with two outs in the sixth. The right-hander punched out seven and walked only one. This was the second-longest no-hit bid in postseason history by a rookie hurler.