The Houston Astros are going to the World Series. It’s real. It’s official. The Astros are the champions of the American League, coming back from a 3-2 ALCS deficit to defeat the New York Yankees. The Astros won Game Seven on Saturday night by a 4-0 score, grabbing the lead in the fourth inning on an Evan Gattis homer and never letting the Yankees get back into the game.
It’s difficult to single out MVPs for this game since seemingly every Astro in the lineup made a big play. There was a spectacular George Springer leaping catch. There was Brian McCann hitting a two-run double and making a tag at the plate for a key out. Yuli Gurriel made a great slide to score a run. Josh Reddick broke out of his slump. But in the end, the four players named below are the MVPs of Game Seven.
EVAN GATTIS: It was scoreless in the bottom of the fourth inning with one out when Gattis strode up to the plate. Gattis then connected on a 3-2 off-speed pitch from CC Sabathia and hit it over the left-center field wall to put the Astros up 1-0. As it turned out, this was all of the runs the Astros needed.
ALEX BREGMAN: Bregman only had one hit, but it was his defensive excellence that earned him this honor. The Yankees had runners on first and third with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Yankee third baseman Todd Frazier hit a slow chopper to Bregman. With no chance for the double play, the conventional wisdom is to throw the ball to first base for the sure out. But Bregman, not even looking to first, threw a perfect strike to catcher Brian McCann, who tagged Greg Bird for the out, keeping the Yankees off the board and stripping New York of all momentum.
JOSE ALTUVE: Is there any doubt that Altuve is the best player in baseball? Is there any doubt that he might be the most clutch player in baseball? Altuve came through again in Game Seven, hitting a home run to right field to make the score 2-0.
CHARLIE MORTON/LANCE MCCULLERS JR: It’s hard to top a Justin Verlander pitching performance, but the duo of Morton and McCullers combined to give up just three hits to the New York Yankees while allowing no runs. Morton pitched the game of his career, going five innings and striking out five. McCullers, the hard luck starter of Game Five, finished the game, going four innings and striking out six Yankees while giving up just one hit (and according to the FS1 postgame show, McCullers finished the game by throwing 28 straight curveballs).
THE DFAs (Designated for Assignment):
DIDI GREGORIUS: The Yankee shortstop went hitless in four trips to the plate. Even worse, he struck out all four times. More is expected from the guy batting in the third spot of the order.
AARON JUDGE: Judge had a nice three games in Yankee Stadium. But he wasn’t able to do much once the series returned to Houston. He made a huge grab to rob Yuli Gurriel of a home run, but he did nothing at the plate, going zero for four in the biggest game of the season for the Yankees.
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GARY SANCHEZ: Sanchez has received some flak from New Yorkers over his catching abilities this season. His biggest issue is his inability to catch throws from his outfielders when there is a runner heading to the plate. It happened again in Game Seven as he dropped a throw from the outfield that may possibly have arrived to the plate in time to get Yuli Gurriel, who was sliding across the plate for the fourth run.
CC SABATHIA: It’s not that Sabathia pitched bad, but that he didn’t have his best stuff. He only gave up one run, the home run to Gattis, but in 3 1/3 innings, he gave up five hits and walked three Astros.
Now the Astros are headed to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in the World Series. This is only the second time in team history that the Astros have made the World Series (first since 2005), and the Astros are the first team in MLB history to win the pennant in both leagues. The ALCS MVP was Justin Verlander, who was 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings while striking out 21 Yankees and walking two.
The Astros have yet to announce their World Series rotation, but it’s likely to be Dallas Keuchel in Game One, Verlander in Game Two and probably Lance McCullers Jr. in Game Three.