Ten years, multiple 100 loss seasons, an ownership change, a transfer to the American League, and hundreds of games that appeared to be played before friends and family only. It was a baseball version of Andy Dufresne's trip through the shit-smelling drainpipe in Shawshank Redemption that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy
except Yankee fans, Cardinal fans, and David Schwimmer (I hate that guy), but the city of Houston crawled through it and wound up safe and sound on the other side.
After a tumultuous decade long absence, the Houston Astros are in the MLB playoffs as a wildcard team. They will play the New York Yankees in a one game wildcard game Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Despite a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the final game of the regular season, the Astros clinched their first postseason berth since 2005 when the Rangers knocked off the Angels 9-2 on Sunday, ending a late season Angels surge which saw them overtake the Astros briefly in the wildcard standings earlier this week.
Fortunately for Houston, the Astros, who had been the worst team in baseball on the road this season, were able to right the ship by winning four of six on the road to close out the season. A beer soaked Astros clubhouse celebrated raucously, and received a hearty NSFW congratulations from their first year manager A.J. Hinch...
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With one of the youngest rosters and lowest payrolls in all of baseball, the Astros are generally thought to be a couple of years ahead of schedule as a postseason participant, which explains in part the exuberance yesterday over their clinching a wildcard spot despite being statistically a near lock to clinch the division title (and a better playoff outlook) a month ago before enduring a wretched 7-15 stretch in the first 25 days of September.
In reality, they still nearly came back and stole the division back from the Texas Rangers in the final weekend of the season and came one more late game comeback away from playing the Yankees at home tomorrow night instead of in New York, which considering Dallas Keuchel's 15-0 home record would have been huge. Instead, they will take on the Yankees and starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA) tomorrow night in New York.
The winner of Tuesday night's game will take on the Kansas City Royals in a best of five divisional series beginning on Thursday night. The Astros finish the regular season with an 86-76 record.
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