CALL IT FATE

A true team of destiny? Yankees never had a chance against Houston

Justin Verlander and Jose Altuve are headed to the World Series. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If Houston wouldn't let a hurricane beat it, you think the New York Yankees stood a chance? 

Poor Yankees ... they weren't beaten by 25 baseball players. They lost to an entire city picking itself up off the canvas. They lost to a tidal wave of emotion, an unstoppable force that would not be denied. They lost to fans who pulled out of their driveways, past all their possessions reduced to debris on their front lawns, and headed to Minute Maid Park to cheer their Astros. 

This team doesn't just wear a patch that says "HoustonStrong." They ARE the embodiment of Houston, the most diverse, resilient, boldest city in the U.S. Nowhere will you find a team that looks more like its hometown. Our second baseman is the smallest player in the lineup ... and the best player in the world. How can you root against that guy? Our first baseman is a Cuban defector with hair like the top of a pineapple. Our centerfielder is bi-racial and climbs outfield walls to rob home runs. Our shortstop is from Puerto Rico. He learned how to speak English as a kid because he knew ESPN would want to interview him one day. Our right fielder is a self-described, mullet-wearing "down south redneck"  in Captain America underpants. He comes to bat to a recording of wrestler Ric Flair yelling "Wooo!" Ever hear 40,000 baseball fans yelling "Wooo" in return? Our third baseman is a Jew from New Mexico, of all places. Our championship series MVP is the hottest pitcher in the game, the highest-paid player on the team and his fiancée is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl. He's doing all right. Our manager has a degree in psychology from Stanford and needs it. Fearless leader is smart.  

How can you not love this team? Lance McCullers was pretty awesome in Game 7, right? You know what he does in his spare time? He rescues homeless dogs and cats. George Springer made a spectacular leaping catch, two of them, last week. You know what he did after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston? He arranged for his hometown in Connecticut to send a caravan of trucks packed with needed supplies to Houston. Springer also holds fundraisers to send kids who stutter to summer camp. Astros owner Jim Crane donated $4 million for hurricane relief from his own pocket. 

What's the word ... fate? Kismet?  Destiny? Karma? Whatever you want to call it, this team will not, cannot be denied. The 2017 Houston Astros are a force of nature stronger than any hurricane. After all we've been through in Houston, we deserve the pure joy of Astros baseball. 

There were doubters, for sure. The Yankees were supposed to vanquish the Astros, ending the dream, especially after sweeping Houston three straight in New York. Aaron Judge had emerged from his home run slump. The Yanks needed only one win at Minute Maid Park. 

The Yankees are used to winning. It's sort of their thing. They're the winningest, most storied franchise in U.S. sports. Their name means excellence, like Babe Ruth and Cadillac, the gold standard. When a team dominates in another sport, "they're the New York Yankees of this or that." 

There are 27 World Series flags flapping over Yankee Stadium. Minute Maid Park has none. Surely the young, inexperienced Astros would crumble at the Yankees' feet.  

That's just the way it is, or was supposed to be. Back in the '50s, New York was so dominant that a book called The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant hit the best-seller list. The plot had a long-suffering baseball fan selling his soul to the devil so his team could beat the Yankees, if only once. The book was turned into a Broadway musical and movie called Damn Yankees. 

It's time for a remake, because 2017 belongs to Houston - our Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. 

The team motto this year was "Earn History," and they sure did. But their work isn't done. It's on to Los Angeles and the World Series. Say it again ... World Series! 

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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