Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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The Astros are World Series champions again! Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Finally, the Commissioner’s Trophy has come back to Houston.

It seems like eons ago since the ending of the 2017 season when Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager grounded a ball to right straight to Jose Altuve, who scooped it up and sent it to Yuli Gurriel for the final out and clinched the franchise’s first championship.

Inside a capacity crowd at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, the Houston Astros made history once again. This time it was a fly out to right field towards foul territory, and it was Kyle Tucker, who caught the ball that clinched the Commissioner’s Trophy for the 2022 Astros.

Houston defeated Philadelphia 4-1 in Game Six, and it won the series 4-2. The Astros are once again the undisputed best team in all of Major League Baseball. Dusty Baker finally got his first World Series trophy as a manager, and shortstop Jeremy Peña was named the World Series MVP to cap off his incredible rookie season.

Game Six did not come without some anxiety. Like it was throughout the entire postseason, the game took Houston supporters through a roller coaster of emotions. Both starting pitchers in Framber Valdez for the Astros and Zack Wheeler for the Phillies went into the sixth inning having pitched a shutout.

At the top of the sixth, it was Philadelphia left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who erased the goose egg on the board for the Phillies with a solo home run. The brief lead for the Phillies made the heart of Astros fans begin to pound a little faster with the memory of the 2019 World Series not too far behind, but that feeling of dread was erased almost instantly in the bottom of the sixth inning.

First it was catcher Martin Maldonado that got on base after he was hit by a pitch. Second baseman Jose Altuve forced the Phillies to get Maldonado out on a ground ball, but he managed to beat out the throw at first to avoid disaster.

Then the rookie sensation, Peña, delivered a single into the outfield that sent Altuve to third and set the stage for Yordan Alvarez.

On a 2-1 count with Phillies reliever Seranthony Domínguez seeking to keep the Astros at bay, Alvarez swung his bat and connected to launch the ball over center field. Just like that, the Astros led 3-1, and Minute Maid Park became a madhouse.

Alex Bregman followed by drawing a walk, and after Kyle Tucker struck out, it was Christian Vázquez that brought Bregman home with a sharp line drive. Bregman had advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch by Domínguez that J. T. Realmuto could not contain.

The celebration on Saturday night will forever hold a special feeling for Houston fans and the Astros alike. The 2017 trophy represented a light for the city that had just been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey months prior. The 2022 trophy represents justification that the Astros are just that good and have built a dynasty that keeps chugging along.

The 2018 Astros lost in the American League Championship Series. The 2019 Astros saw a championship slip through their fingers, and then the sign-stealing scandal broke headlines.

2020 saw turnover with the hiring of Dusty Baker and James Click, and the Astros once again fell short in the ALCS. The 2021 Astros said goodbye to George Springer, and then ran into a buzz saw in the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

The 2022 Astros said goodbye to an old friend in Carlos Correa. And yet, were able to not skip a beat with the rise of Peña, who put together an incredible regular and postseason. But the 2022 Astros were much more than just one player.

There was Cristian Javier, who was thrust into a hostile Philadelphia crowd down 2-1 and the season on the line. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher’s cool, calm and collected personality gave the Astros composure and shifted the series. Javier pitched six innings, striking out nine batters and giving up 0 hits.

Javier’s work was followed by Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly, who carried on the no-hitter and became just the second team in the history of the World Series to pitch a no-hitter.

In Game 5, Peña got Houston on the board first, and then became the first rookie to ever hit a home run in the Fall Classic. A stellar defensive play by Trey Mancini and the play of the series made by Chas McCormick, robbing Realmuto from guaranteed extra bases, helped put the Astros in position to close the game.

There was also Justin Verlander, who entering Game 5 was seeking his first ever World Series win. He not only got that, but pitched a heck of a game, allowing the high-powered Phillies offense to only score one run just days after they had put five on him at Minute Maid Park.

Everyone knows the story of Álvarez against the Seattle Mariners that helped launch Houston’s run. It was fitting that he sparked the rally in Game Six. Even though multiple players struggled at different times throughout much of the postseason, Houston just kept winning.

Now that it is all said and done. Nothing else matters. The 2022 Houston Astros have many new faces. For Altuve, Gurriel, Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr. and Bregman, the World Series victory can certainly be viewed as a redemption story, but this year’s team was so much more than that. They were a team in every sense of the word.

The 2022 Astros were resilient. The 2022 Astros were motivated. Fueled by past failures, new faces, and a will to make history, Houston did just that.

One more time. The 2022 World Series Champions—your Houston Astros

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