Astros are in the World Series for second time in three years

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Houston headed to World Series after ALCS Game 6 win

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are headed to their second World Series in three years. After losing with Justin Verlander on the mound in ALCS Game 5 in New York, the Astros returned home and did what it took to put the formidable Yankees away and finish the series, winning Game 6 by a score of 6-4 with a walk-off home run by Jose Altuve.

In what would be a battle of the bullpens, a huge three-run home run by Yuli Gurriel in the first inning was one of the difference-makers in the game, as was a game-tying shot by the Yankees off Roberto Osuna in the top of the ninth. Ultimately, it was Jose Altuve who played the hero. Here is a recap of the game that has Houston headed to the fall classic:

Final Score: Astros 6, Yankees 4.

Series: Astros win 4-2.

Winning Pitcher: Roberto Osuna.

Losing Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman.

Gurriel breaks his slump to give Astros an early lead

The Astros started ALCS Game 6 by handing the ball to Brad Peacock, who, after an eight-pitch eighth inning in Game 5, looked impressive enough to be trusted to start the bullpen day. He did his job in the top of the first, retiring the top of the Yankees order 1-2-3 on seven pitches.

In the bottom of the inning, the Astros finally got a momentous hit from Yuli Gurriel. Jose Altuve was the first baserunner of the night with a one-out double, then Alex Bregman followed with a two-out walk. That set up Gurriel, who turned an inside fastball around and snuck it into the Crawford Boxes to give Houston an early 3-0 lead.

Houston holds the lead through the middle innings with collection of relievers

Peacock remained in the game for the top of the second, but after two outs would struggle to put the Yankees away, allowing a two-out double then RBI-single to trim Houston's lead to 3-1. He would face one more batter and issue a walk before A.J. Hinch would pop out of the dugout to move on to Josh James, who would get a strikeout to end the threat.

James would continue into the third, getting two outs but eventually loading the bases, prompting another move, this time to Ryan Pressly. Pressly would get a groundout on one pitch, but after fielding it himself would look to re-injure his knee, a bad sight for Houston. Next up was Jose Urquidy who took over on the mound in the top of the fourth, but allowed a solo home run en route to completing the frame.

Urquidy would return for a 1-2-3 fifth and remain in the game for the top of the sixth. He would put two on base with one out after a walk and single, then benefited from a terrific diving catch by Reddick to get the second out and possibly save a run. That would be it for Urquidy, as the Astros would bring in Will Harris, who was able to induce a groundout on one pitch to end the threat.

Astros take the lead to the ninth

The Astros then went to work at the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Jose Altuve led the inning off with a walk, then moved to third on a single by Michael Brantley. Alex Bregman would score Altuve on an RBI-groundout, pushing Houston's lead to 4-2. Houston would get runners on second and third with two outs later in the inning, but Yordan Alvarez's struggles would continue as he struck out to end the inning and Houston's chances to add more to their lead. Harris would go back to the mound in the top of the seventh and would be able to erase a leadoff single by Aaron Judge after an incredible diving catch by Michael Brantley that would turn into a double play.

That left six more outs for Houston's bullpen to cover to finish off the game. In the top of the eighth, Joe Smith took over as the sixth pitcher for Houston and worked around a one-out single to send the game to the ninth after a double play by his defense ended the inning. Houston would load the bases in the bottom of the eighth with two outs but come out empty-handed after a groundout by Aledmys Diaz, who was pinch-hitting for the struggling Yordan Alvarez.

Yankees tie, but Jose Altuve sends Houston to the World Series

In the top of the ninth, closer Roberto Osuna came on in arguably the highest-pressure situation of his career. He allowed a leadoff single to bring the tying run to the plate, and after one out DJ LeMaheiu would tie the game with a two-run home run to right field. Osuna would get the next two batters, sending the tie game to the bottom of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman came in for the Yankees to try and keep it a tie game for New York. Instead, Jose Altuve would launch the winning home run to send the Astros to the World Series.

Up Next: World Series Game 1 will be Tuesday at 7:08 PM Central from Minute Maid Park in Houston. The Astros will likely give the ball to Gerrit Cole, who would have been used for Game 7, while the Nationals will be expected to start Max Scherzer, setting up a fierce pitching battle.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

Getty Images

This time next week Jim Crane will have hired or be closing in on hiring the Astros' new manager. Who is it going to be? Considering Crane himself doesn't know yet, how the heck should I know? The candidate pool is deep in quality, four former big league skippers (none of whom have won a World Series) and at least three others who have never managed in Major League Baseball.

Dusty Baker. 70 years old. Over 22 seasons he steered four different franchises to the postseason. Tremendous people skills. I always felt his teams took on his upbeat but intense personality. Not a tactical wizard and a questionable resume re: handling of several pitchers. That's not a dealbreaker If Brent Strom is still the pitching coach.

Buck Showalter. Organized and prepared as all get out. Taken three different teams to the playoffs. More coincidence than anything else, the Yankees and Diamondbacks won the World Series...the season immediately after they fired Showalter.

John Gibbons. Low key personality. Two American League Championship Series trips with the Blue Jays.

Jeff Banister. LaMarque high school grad, played at UH. Back-to-Back AL West titles with the Rangers before their roster fell apart and the Astros took over the division. Also a lifetime big league batting average of 1.000. One at bat, he singled.

Any of those four would be a highly credible hire.

Those seeking experience by getting experience: Raul Ibanez, Will Venable, and Eduardo Perez. Where the Astros are, I would lean away from them. Incumbent bench coach Joe Espada is a more credentialed candidate than those three, but Espada was on A.J. Hinch's staff when the Astros are confirmed as cheaters, so can't see Crane going with him.

The experienced big league managers would command more money. That should play zero role in the choice, even though if the Astros stay largely healthy and avoid precipitous performance declines, you or I could manage their roster to 90 wins. Who is best equipped to navigate the S.S. Astros through some stormy seas bound to hit? Because, A. that's baseball, and B. they'll face some unusual stuff in their role as the lying, cheating villains of MLB. Can't know the answer to that.

Rockets fading from the spotlight

The Texans disintegrated on the field in Kansas City, the Astros' integrity turns out to have in part either disintegrated or been non-existent, leaving the Rockets among the big three to uplift the city's sports spirits over the next couple of months. Problem, relatively few seem to care. Glaring numbers of empty seats (even though sold) at Toyota Center, lower TV ratings, and a palpable lack of buzz to them. No shame in a 27-16 record, but that's not close to special and things just seem a bit stale. Dog days of midseason or larger problems?

The Rockets enter the weekend closer to the Draft Lottery than to the Western Conference leading Lakers. The Rockets are at best b-list contenders, waaaay more likely to get bounced from the playoffs in the first round than to win the West. They may be in serious trouble relative to this season's aspirations, and going forward.

Recent deep shooting slump aside, James Harden is a phenomenal offensive force, and Russell Westbrook is a force of nature. But a Harden/Westbrook backcourt headlines a non-championship caliber defense. And there just aren't good enough players around them. Harden is 30 years old, Westbrook is 31. Eric Gordon and his balky knee and erratic jumper, also 31. Over the next three seasons the Rockets are on the hook for those three guys at an average of about 106 million dollars per season.

For two straight off-seasons, the Rockets have been cheap with construction of the bench. Whatever the extent he's been following owner Tilman Fertitta's marching orders, among teams that fancy themselves contenders General Manager Daryl Morey has produced the worst bench in the NBA.

There are a bunch of teams with better overall talent, there are lottery teams with better young talent. It all adds up to the best guess being Head Coach Mike D'Antoni parts ways with the Rockets after the season. How good a job will the Rockets job be for the next coach? The answer might be, not very, in terms of pursuing an NBA championship.

While not being a big deal, it won't look good on the Rockets side if/when Chris Paul makes the All Star Game and Russell Westbrook doesn't.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you were Kelvin Sampson would you leave UH for the Rockets? 2. The Pro Bowl is Sunday! 3. Things on TV I'd watch before the Pro Bowl: Bronze-Real Housewives of Anywhere Silver-A full XFL game Gold-Three hours of test pattern

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome