The Houston Astros dominate the race with their second World Championship title

HOUSTON – The central fence in Minute Maid Park is 409 feet from the main board. The green patch eye behind it is 40 feet high. Players never hit baseballs after that.

However, on Saturday evening, with the match and title at stake, with the match and title at stake, Jordan Alvarez she did.

In his sixth home run, against a left-hander who was exclusively brought into retirement, he traveled 450 feet straight into the center field, clearing the batter’s towering eye, scoring three runs, sending his jubilant teammates onto the field and propelling the Houston team. Astros to a 4-1 victory, the title settled over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6.

“When I was spinning second base, I could feel the whole field moving,” Alvarez said through an interpreter.

The Astros, one of the most dominant teams of this era, are world champions for the first time since 2017, a season tainted by scandal. Jeremy Penathe rookie short player who collected three consecutive multi-hit matches, was awarded the World Series MVP, the same award he won in the American League Championship Series.

It was also possible to make a strong argument Framber Valdezwho closed Phillies in Game 2 and contributed six stellar rounds in Game Six. Kyle Schwarber. Moments later, Alvarez delivered the decisive blow, a prominent theme for this postseason.

Zach Wheeler He dominated the Astros for the first five rounds, erasing any concerns about arm fatigue. But with two in sixth and one at the bottom of sixth, Phillies coach Rob Thompson turned the match into Jose AlvaradoLooking forward to the left-right match with Alvarez due.

Alvarez, 25, has been without a home in his last 10 post-season games and has taken just five hits in his last 42 games. He then ran a 2-1 sinking on the board and demolished it, producing the second longest home world racing streak in the Statcast era (only surpassed by Freddy Freeman at home in Game Five of the World Championships last year). It was Alvarez’s third home run in this post-season, and it all came as the Astros trailed behind and gave them the lead. No other player has clashed with two of these in his entire post-season career.

“This time what I did, I just tried to stay a little calm, pick a good ground to swing on,” Alvarez said. ‘That’s what I did.’

From there, the Astros sailed, their dominant rear end masters retired from the Phillies’ rackets easily over the course of the next three rounds.

The Astros have now claimed two titles during what has evolved into a dominant six-year stretch, but this is the first that won’t be mired in controversy. The Astros were found to have illegally stolen banners through a detailed garbage plot during their 2017 championship season, a discovery that led to the suspension and subsequent firing of their architect (Jeff Luhnow) and field manager (AJ Hinch) heading into the 2020 season, among other penalties. other.

However, the Astros continued to win. They recovered from a slow start to the season cut short by the pandemic to reach the MLS Series, then went on to the World Series in 2021, losing in six games to the reduced but renewed Atlanta Braves.

The saw that followed Carlos Correa Leave via free agency, following the path Gerrit Cole And the George Springer in previous winters. The superstars and the elder of their dynamic core left, but the Astros continued to thrive.

He replaced Bina Correia in shortstop and made a case for AL Rookie of the Year; Alvarez, gained in what initially seemed like a minor trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, developed into the sport’s best hitter; Valdez, Christian XavierAnd the Luis Garcia And the Jose Urquidi – All acquired with deals far below the market internationally – Developed into first-class springboard shooters; and the likes Hector NeresAnd the Brian AbroAnd the Ren Stanek And the Rafael Monteiro Formed a dominant Bullpen Bridge to turn off the lights closer Ryan Presley.

Around them, their stars shone. Alex Bergman And the Jose Altove They performed among the best in their positions; Justin Verlander He acted like Si Young’s favorite when he was 39 years old coming out of Tommy John’s surgery. The Astros barely had a challenge at El West in 2022. They finished the regular season with a score of 106-56, winning the division by 16 games. They then won their first seven post-season competitions to quickly dispatch the upstarts of the Seattle Mariners and decorated New York Yankees in the first two rounds.

The Phillies, who won 19 fewer games, proved to be the Astros’ staunch enemies. They tested their strength, but the Astros responded.

When the Velez made a five-round comeback to steal Game 1, the dominant Astros rode Valdez to earn a split with Houston. When the Phillies hit five home runs in a Game 3 victory, the Astros recovered to win back-to-back matches on the road in a hostile environment, and they rode together in Game 4 and a team effort—most notably Chas McCormick’s improbable catch in the ninth—in Game 5.

In Game 6, Valdes dominated, and Alvarez took the big hit and locked it in.

“Obviously they threw a punch, and we did what we’ve been doing all year: We went straight back and threw a haymaker,” Verlander said.

The Astros’ latest victory may be an affirmation of legacy, and a necessary confirmation of a superior streak whose previous highest achievement was marked by a cheating scandal. It came, fittingly, at home, in front of the fans who crowded around them while the rest of the country cursed them.

The Astros were largely seen as a coldly calculated franchise whose win-at-all-costs mindset led them to cheat the game in ways that many of their peers found outrageous. Now they can be defined, at least in part, by how they overcame the sudden expulsion of two of the most influential people, the loss of two first- and second-round picks, the constant departure of super talents and a whole person hostility. sports.

They beat their manager, too. Dusty Baker, who was hired shortly after Major League Baseball’s star-stealing Astros practices concluded in January of 2020, finally won his first world championship as a manager, an important milestone for what is sure to become a Hall of Fame career.

Now 73, Baker has spent a quarter century chasing a championship he has only won once, as a Dodgers player in 1981. He took 12 different teams to post-season and racked up 2,093 regular season victories before finally winning the most important game. .

The stars now have some important decisions to make. Baker and James Click, who were appointed general manager less than a week after Baker joined the board, were on contracts that have now expired. Becker may be retiring, sources said, and Click hasn’t come face-to-face with Astros owner Jim Crane over some baseball-related decisions, casting unexpected doubts about his future. A decision on both should come soon.

For now, the Astros will be celebrating.