Houston residents, recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, finally have something to cheer about – a World Series victory. Thousands of fans lined up on the city streets on Friday, November 3 for a parade celebrating the Houston Astros who won the baseball championship with a resounding 5-1 score against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh game. What makes the much-needed win even more special is that it is the first time the 56-year-old team has brought home the coveted trophy.
The victory caps the incredible turnaround of the Astros, who hit a new low in 2011 when they lost 106 of the 162 games in the regular Major League Baseball season. Things did not get any better over the next three years with the team losing a combined 310 games. In 2015, some brilliant draft picks and front-office algorithm strategies, led them to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. While last year did not go as well, 2017 has been a stellar year from the start. The championship winners won 101 games and held the best record in baseball for 65 days, until they were surpassed by the Los Angeles Dodgers who laid claim to the title in the final 86 days of the season.
Despite the Astros strong showing, it was the Dodgers, who haven’t won the World Series in 30 years, that were the favorites to take home the championship. The Los Angeles team affirmed the view with a decisive 3-1 win in the first game. However, the Astros evened out the World Series to one game apiece with a nail biting 7-6 victory. They repeated the feat with a 5-3 win in game three, before losing to the Dodgers in game four. Game five was a wild one, but the Astros managed to eke out a victory with a 13-12 score and head into game six with a chance to take home the trophy. However, the Dodgers came in strong, tying the series at 3-3.
Tensions ran high at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on November 1. It was a history-making event given that a seventh game had never been played at the country’s third oldest stadium. The Dodgers winning their first title in 30 years, surrounded by fans, would have made it all the more special. However, it was not to be. The Astros started off strong, with the Dodgers down 2-0 before they even had a chance to bat, and continued the lead with 5-0. While the Los Angeles team managed to get on the board with a run-scoring single by pinch hitter Andre Ethier in the sixth inning, they were unable to score beyond that.
The Astros, who have been sporting a patch with the word “STRONG” on their jerseys in a nod to the “Houston Strong” logo adopted after the catastrophic floods, dedicated the win to the city’s residents. Star pitcher Justin Verlander, who joined the Astros just two months ago, said, "What an incredible city that I joined. They made me feel at home right away, and I'm so happy for us, I'm so happy for them, this is a great experience for everyone."
Series MVP George Springer, who led his team to a victory with a series record high of five home runs echoed the sentiment, saying, "This is unbelievable. I'm so happy for our city and our fans.”
Astros Outfielder Carlos Betran summarized the team’s feelings with the statement, “Yes, it is a great joy to finally win a World Series. But this is not about me. It is about my teammates who gave such a strong effort. It is about the people of Houston who rallied around us while they struggled after Harvey. It is about my people in Puerto Rico, who are celebrating right now even after Maria left us devastated."
Resources: abc.go.com,NPR.org, theguardian.com,espn.com,click2houston.com