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! 

Astros win another against the Rangers

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 4-1 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Astros, after a day off on Monday, were back in action at home on Tuesday night for the two-game conclusion of the season series with the Rangers. At 98 wins, and with their magic number down to four, it was a timely night to get Carlos Correa back in the lineup and have Justin Verlander on the mound. Here is a quick recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 1.

Record: 99-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (19-6, 2.50 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (14-11, 3.77 ERA).

1) Verlander goes six scoreless

It was a stout pitching matchup early in Tuesday's game, with both Justin Verlander and Lance Lynn tossing scoreless frames through the first half of the game. Verlander would win the battle, shutting out the Rangers through six innings while Lynn would allow three runs over that same span.

Although Verlander had managed his pitch count well through his six innings, he would not be asked to extend himself as Houston gears up for the postseason. That didn't keep him from putting up more strikeouts and efficiency to his season totals, though. His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 0 HR.

2) Houston backs up JV with 3 home runs while the bullpen finishes it off

Meanwhile, Verlander's offense provided him with three runs of support. The first came on a solo home run by Yuli Gurriel to start the scoring for the night in the bottom of the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit two solo home runs as well, back-to-back shots to extend the lead to 3-0.

Hector Rondon was the first out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Verlander in the top of the seventh and would allow a solo home run to cut the lead to 3-1 before getting out of the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Robinson Chirinos hit a blooper into left field that the Rangers converged on but could not catch, and with Chirinos not stopping on the bases, was able just to beat out the tag for a triple. He would score on an RBI-single, pushing the lead back to three runs at 4-1.

Will Harris was the next pitcher for Houston and recorded a 1-2-3 inning to maintain the lead headed to the ninth. Roberto Osuna would enter in the top of the ninth, and he was able to close out the three-run lead to reduce Houston's magic number to three and move them to 99 wins on the year.

Up Next: The final game this season between the Astros and Rangers, since Texas has already been eliminated from playoff contention, will take place on Wednesday night at 7:10 PM. Kolby Allard (4-0, 4.34 ERA) is expected to get the start for the Rangers while Gerrit Cole (17-5, 2.62 ERA) will be on the mound for the Astros.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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