WE ARE CHAMPIONS!

The wait is over: Astros win the big one for a city whose spirit could not be denied

What a moment for the city of Houston. Harry How/Getty Images

It took 56 long years, and one magnificent night, to create memories that will last forever in Houston. The Astros are World Series champions!

As the players whooped and hollered and hugged on the field, fans back home heard their message loud and clear. "We did it for our city, our fans," said World Series MVP George Springer

If anybody stood tall for Houston, it was Springer. He started the Series by striking out four times, and finished holding the Willie Mays MVP trophy. That's Houston, picking itself up off the mat and shining new again. 

Starting pitcher Lance McCullers said, "We wear this patch ("HoustonStrong") and we wear it proudly."

Jose Altuve, 5-6 and 165 pounds, all heart, became a baseball giant, showing the country who he is — baseball's best hitter, batting champion again, and surely the 2017 American League's Most Valuable Player.

We know the story: Houston went through the wringer this summer with Hurricane Harvey. Much of the city and Astros fans are still reeling from the flood. We rallied around this team of wonderful players and triumphed. If a flood couldn't get Houston down, what chance, really, did the Dodgers have?

Baseball record books will simply record Wednesday night as "Astros 5, Dodgers 1." But this was so much more. Houston baseball fans have waited since this team was born in 1962 as the Colt .45's to raise a World Series banner. The wait is over. We are champions.

Quite simply, this is the greatest sports moment in the history of our city. Nothing comes close. We're talking the World Series — the very words mean the ultimate accomplishment. And they did it with style, taking Game 7.

The two most exciting words in sports —Game 7.

How could you not cheer for Carlos Correa, rubbing the heads of his teammates after a home run, jumping over the dugout rail to celebrate a win, then getting on one knee and proposing marriage after winning the World Series? Yeah, that's a pretty good 24 hours for our shortstop.

Get ready for a party, 2 pm Friday in downtown Houston. And the party won't stop any time soon. These wondrous homegrown players, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel and others are all coming back next year. Justin Verlander has two more years in Houston.

"I literally love Justin Verlander" - Jose Altuve.

"I literally love you, too, Jose Altuve" - Justin Verlander.

"We love the whole darn team - all of you" - millions of Houstonians.

Many teams fill the back pages of newspapers with stories of ego and griping and dissent. They challenge their coaches, question their owner, mutter they want out.

Here's how that plays in Houston. When centerfielder George Springer caught the final out of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, he gave the ball to manager A.J. Hinch.

Dallas Keuchel said, "I owe everything to (pitching coach) Brent Strom. He means the world to me."

Consider this, over the past few weeks, the Astros beat the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, three legendary baseball franchises, to claim their first World Series title.

This is pure joy for a team, a city, a spirit that could not be denied. Celebrate it.

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Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After dropping the middle game to the Rangers to split the first two games, the Astros looked for an improved offensive showing in the finale on Thursday night to take the series. Here is a rundown of the rubber game:

Final Score: Astros 2, Rangers 1.

Record: 25-25, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07 ERA).

Valdez another Houston pitcher to thrive against Rangers

Much like Jose Urquidy on Tuesday and Lance McCullers JR. on Wednesday, Framber Valdez put up an excellent pitching line on Thursday against the Rangers. After allowing two singles in the first and a single in the second, he would settle in and hold the Rangers to just one baserunner, which came via a walk through six frames.

He would try to get through the seventh, but after a long at-bat and one-out double, Dusty Baker would stop his night and go to the bullpen. Unfortunately, that double would end up scoring as Josh James would allow an RBI-single, charged to Valdez, before finishing the inning. Along the way, Valdez was able to ring up eleven Rangers. His final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, 100 P.

Kyle Tucker gets the big hit of the night

Luckily, Houston was still in the lead after the Rangers' run, thanks to a big hit by Kyle Tucker back in the second inning. After Alex Bregman reached base on a walk to become the first runner for the Astros, Kyle Tucker would break out of his recent slump with a two-run home run, putting Houston ahead 2-0 at the time.

Jordan Lyles was otherwise handling the Astros just like Kyle Gibson the night prior, who threw a complete-game shutout. Other than the Tucker homer, Lyles allowed another hit in the second and one in the third before retiring the next 12 Astros in order before an error in the seventh broke that streak, giving Houston their first baserunner since two outs in the third.

Houston takes the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James returned to the mound to start the eighth, and he would get a 1-2-3 inning against the top of Texas' lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it. After another scoreless inning by Houston at the plate, that would set up a save opportunity in the top of the ninth. The opportunity would go to Brooks Raley, and he would notch the save with a scoreless inning, giving Houston the series and moving them back up to .500 at 25-25.

Up Next: The Astros' final three regular-season games played at Minute Maid Park in 2020 are this weekend in a series against the Diamondbacks. In Friday's 7:10 PM opener, Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston while Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will be the starter for Arizona.

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