Astros beat Yankees in ALCS, reach World Series again – Press Telegram

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NEW YORK — In recent years, it’s almost become an October ritual: The Astros beat the Yankees. The Astros take the pennant.

Jordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman had big hits and Houston was back in the World Series, snapping a four-game sweep of the AL Championship Series with a 6-5 victory Sunday night that was fueled by another New York defensive miscue.

Taking advantage of a valuable error by second baseman Gleyber Torres to get the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, the Astros won their second straight pennant and fourth in six years.

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña hit a three-run homer against ailing Yankees starter Nestor Cortez to help the AL West champions overcome a 3-0 deficit. Peña was selected as the ALCS MVP.

“It’s surreal. You dream about it as a child,” he said. “We are one step away from the final goal.”

Playoff-perfect Houston opens the World Series at home Friday night against Bryce Harper and the wild-card Phillies, who beat San Diego to close out the best-of-seven NLCS in five games.

For the first time since 1992, both pennants were determined on the same day.

After losing to Atlanta in last year’s World Series, Houston is 7-0 in this postseason, earning the fifth pennant in franchise history and another shot at a second championship.

The team’s 2017 title run was marred by a cheating scandal.

“A lot has been said, but there’s nothing more to say, man. We keep coming here. We keep going up against the best of the best and we keep winning,” pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. said.

“When it all happened a few years ago, we knew we could do one thing, that we could win and we could win and win a lot. I understand that people won’t like us anyway. They’re going to boo us, but at some point you have to respect what we’re doing.”

New York went 13 years without a World Series appearance when Aaron Judge’s sensational season ended with a whimper. After setting an AL record with 62 home runs, the star slugger can become a free agent next month.

“I could sit here and make excuses about when the ball goes this way, the ball goes that way or a pass is made here and there. But it all boils down to the fact that they just played better than us,” Judge said.

With the expansion of the playoffs this year to 12 teams, the Phillies became the first club in baseball history to finish third in the standings and reach the World Series. Philadelphia was 87-75 during the regular season — Justin Verlander and the Astros went 106-56 under manager Dusty Baker, seven games better than any other team in the American League.

“These are the best guys I’ve ever been around!” Baker said during the on-field celebration after the game. “They come to play every day, all day.”

After racing to a 61-23 record in early July, AL East champion New York couldn’t match the Astros in October — again.

Houston is 9-2 overall against the Yankees this year and has knocked them out of the playoffs four times in the past eight seasons, including in the ALCS in 2017 and 2019.

In fact, New York has lost its last five AL Championship Series trips and hasn’t claimed a pennant since winning its record 27th World Series championship in 2009.

#28 proved to be the most elusive.

“It’s as bad as it gets,” manager Aaron Boone said.

Back in the leadoff spot, Harrison Bader had three hits and scored three goals for New York. He connected on winning pitcher Hector Neris for his fifth home run of the playoffs to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the sixth.

They couldn’t hold it back when they absolutely had to.

In the seventh, Peña hit Torres with what should have been an inning-ending double play. But his throw to second base went wide of shortstop Isiah Keener-Falefa as the crowd of 46,545 groaned and the Astros had two runners on.

Alvarez singled home the tying run on the next delivery off losing pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga, and Bregman gave Houston the lead on an RBI single by Clay Holmes.

It was the sixth miscue of the postseason for the Yankees, who also handed the Astros a key Game 3 gift. Chas McCormick hit a two-run homer in the first off New York ace Gerrit Cole after Bader, the Gold Glove outfielder, made a two-out fly out when he nearly collided with the umpire in right-center.

Brian Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressley closed the door in complete relief.

Retired umpire Pressley returns for his third save of the series and fourth of the postseason, sending the Astros rushing from the dugout to ecstatic hugs and handshakes in the infield.

Moments later, a crowd of orange-necked Houston fans chanted “Sweep it out! Sweep!” behind the team’s third base dugout in a mostly empty Yankee Stadium.

Astros players and coaches then headed to their clubhouse for a booze party, dancing to loud rap music and drinking beer from Peña’s MVP trophy.

“They beat us in every aspect,” Cole said.


Baker, 73, heads into his third World Series in 25 seasons as a major league manager, still looking for his first championship as a bullpen boss. He won as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“This is a very exciting time for me and the organization,” Baker said before the game. “These guys expect to win. Victory begets victory.”


Needing a win to extend their season, the Yankees got off to a fast start in the first inning after an 84-minute delay due to the threat of rain. Giancarlo Stanton laced an RBI single from McCullers and Torres hit a leadoff single to center.

Anthony Rizzo’s two-out RBI double made it 3-0 in the second, but Stanton struck out with runners on second and third. Rizzo also delivered a two-out RBI single that tied the game at 4-all in the fourth.


Verlander will likely start his third World Series opener. The 39-year-old ace went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA this season in a wildly successful comeback from Tommy John surgery, making him the favorite to win his third Cy Young Award. He got a big hit in the division series opener against Seattle, then struck out 11 batters in six innings to win Game 1 of the ALCS. He is 0-6 in seven World Series starts.

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