ASTROS WIN THE ALCS!

Empire statement: Houston Astros sweep Yankees en route to second straight World Series

The Astros are headed back to the World Series. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

The Houston Astros aimed to shut the door on the 2022 season for the New York Yankees in Game Four of the American League Championship Series, and it is exactly what they did. Houston defeated New York 6-5 to advance to its second straight World Series.

Houston battled all game long against the Yankees, who were determined to win to avoid the sweep. The Astros overcame multiple deficits, including a three-run early hole to come out victorious.

The final mistake for New York came at the top of the seventh inning. In what should have been at least one out on second baseman Jose Altuve, who was running to second base after a hit by shortstop Jeremy Peña, New York second baseman Gleyber Torres threw a bad feed to New York shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, which resulted in the ball rolling into the outfield.

The error kept Altuve at second and got Peña to first base. Yordan Alvarez followed up by getting a ground ball single to right field that tied the game 5-5. The heart of Houston’s batting order continued to deliver for the Astros. Third baseman Alex Bregman singled on a line drive to right field that made it 6-5, a lead Houston never relinquished.

Houston first turned the game around in the third inning when catcher Martín Maldonado and Altuve got on base with back-to-back walks. The Astros trailed 3-0 entering the inning. The stage was set for Peña to become a game hero.

Peña was able to get into a 3-1 count on pitcher Nester Cortes, who seemed to be battling an injury that caused New York manager Aaron Boone and the team’s training staff to go check on him earlier in the inning. Peña launched a homer to left field that tied the game at three and left the Yankees stunned.

The play sucked the air out of New York’s fans at Yankee Stadium, ignited the Houston faithful in attendance, and was likely the play that ensured the rookie came away with the ALCS Most Valuable Player award. Cortes was then taken out of the game for pitcher Wandy Peralta. New York later stated Cortes had suffered a groin injury.

Peralta was unable to stop the bleeding for the Yankees. Yordan Alvarez doubled on a line drive to right field and Kyle Tucker moved him to third with a single. First baseman Yuli Gurriel delivered the go-ahead hit with a ground ball to right field that allowed Alvarez to score and gave the Astros a 4-3 lead.

Game Four started out ominous from a weather perspective and on the scoreboard. The first pitch didn’t get thrown until a roughly 90-minute delay due to drizzle and the threat of rain. Once the tarp came off the field and the game got rolling, it was the Yankees that jumped out on Houston pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. early.

McCullers struggled against the Yankees’ top of the order in the first inning, giving up three hits and two runs. McCullers’ issues continued in the second inning as he allowed New York shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa to get an inning-opening double.

After recording two outs, McCulllers walked Aaron Judge, which was followed by a double from Anthony Rizzo that scored Kiner-Falefa and made it 3-0 in favor of the Yankees. McCullers had runners on the bases all game long.

When it was all said and done, the 29-year-old pitcher went 5.0 innings, gave up eight hits and allowed four total runs, three of which were earned runs. McCullers also struck out six Yankees. Hector Neris took over in relief in the sixth inning. With two outs, Neris gave up a solo shot to Bader that gave New York a 5-4 lead.

Outside of the run allowed by Neris, Houston’s bullpen went the rest of the way without allowing a run. Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly combined to pitch 3.0 hitless innings and two strikeouts.

Overall, the ALCS saw various Astros star as heroes. In Game One, it was Peña, McCormick and Gurriel, who each homered against the Yankees. In Game Two it was Bregman, who delivered with a three-run homer that carried Houston past New York.

Game Three saw Cristian Javier pitch 5.1 innings giving up only one hit as he struck out five Yankees. Houston had five other pitchers make appearances in the game. They only allowed two hits and struck out six more New York batters. Offensively it was McCormick and Christian Vazquez, who accounted for four of Houston’s runs.

Game Four saw multiple players step up big again. Peña started the rally, Alvarez and Bregman finished it. More importantly, Altuve’s bat has appeared to have awoken. After going 0-for-25 to start the postseason, he got one hit in Game Three. Altuve added two more hits in Game Four.

Houston will now have a few days off until it hosts the Philadelphia Phillies for Game One of the World Series on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

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Upton and Verlander are headed to the Big Apple. Photo by Elsa/ Getty Images.

News erupted on a relatively quiet Monday, December 5 that Houston Astros superstar ace and Cy Young Award-winnerJustin Verlander inked a deal with the New York Mets.

According to the New York Post, Verlander, a free agent, agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets, with a vesting, third-year option for $35 million. While that's huge news in the world of pro baseball, Verlander's superstar model wife Kate Upton has been also trending on Twitter.

No surprise there, as cover girl and fashion influencer Upton boasts more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone and one of the most followed models on the globe. But it's not a cover shot or sizzling bikini pic making the rounds, but rather, a video of the supermodel shooting the bird to Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Upton, an oft-smiling mom and wife, had no problem backing down from Philly Fan with a double-barreled, middle finger salute. While the audio is hard to decipher, we're guessing Upton didn't edit her smack talk in the dubious City of Brotherly Love.

Plenty of local talk (if one is interested in that sort of thing) points to the Mets being the team for "real" NYC baseball fans, while Yankees fans are said to be band-wagoning, late to games, and full of corporate partners. It's also good optics that Verlander didn't bolt for the team that the Astros dispatched in a four-game sweep on the way to their second World Series title.

Houston fans will no doubt miss Upton, who wed Verlander, gave birth to darling daughter Genevieve, and essentially broke the internet when she donned a retro Astros jacket — making it an instant sellout — all while here in the Bayou City. As transplants from there regularly point out, Houston is notoriously friendlier than the Big Apple.

But, something tells Upton, who has proven that she's not afraid to go publicly potty-mouthed in defense of JV, will have zero problem handling any mouthy NYC fans.

Upton clearly gives zero bleeps when defending her man. Kate Upton/Twitter

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