Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Houston Wins 4-3
These patches and logos are seen all too frequently these days. Representing different cities, different victims, different reasons to be strong.
In the wake of natural disasters that seem to be occurring with increased frequency.
In the aftermath of horrific terror attacks both at home, and abroad.
Houston, a team that was considered an underdog, at best, despite finishing the season with over 100 wins and displaying the most balanced offense in the majors all season long. An afterthought. The presumed World Series victims of the Dodgers, the team with the highest payroll in all of baseball.
Houston, a city still recovering from massive damage from the flooding and devastating winds of Hurricane Harvey. A city that was somehow forgotten in its misery, as the country turned its focus first to Puerto Rico’s destruction after Hurricane Irma, then to wildfires that consumed huge sections of Northern California.
The Astros, a team that has never won the World Series in their fifty-five-year history, believed. It was their turn to be strong- for their city. In this, perhaps the most entertaining, back-and-forth World Series in recent memory, a series in which the Astros needed to win not one, but two extra-inning games. In which they needed to find a way to beat Clayton Kershaw at least once. They still believed.
Houston, the city, is rebuilding. It’s been a few weeks since the waters receded. Families are fighting to get back in their homes. People are coming to grips with the loss and the chaos of what their lives have become since the Category 4 storm lashed the city and its surrounding communities. They’ve begun the long, hard job of putting their lives back together. But not last night. Last night all of Houston lived, breathed and watched as one, as their Astros, the lovable losers from the seventies with the bizarre, orange-rainbow jerseys grew up and became world champions.
No, the uniforms don’t look the same. But there was something a little old school about last night’s game seven. It didn’t take long for these Astros to show their mettle. Last night the Astros put the Dodgers on the ground from the top of the first inning and never let them up to breathe.
The Astros jumped out to an immediate lead before the surprisingly punctual LA crowd had even fully arrived. George Springer had both a double to lead off the first and a homer in the second to close out Houston’s scoring. A throwing error brought Springer home in the first and two ground-out RBI’s did the rest of the damage. By the time Yu Darvish was lifted by Dave Roberts in the second inning, having recorded only four outs, he had given up five runs. It was more than enough for the Astros to close out the World Series. For the next seven innings, Dodger fans willed their team to get up from the mat, but it wasn’t happening. Inning after inning, the Dodgers left runners on, ten of them in total. Their hopes stranded on the base paths.
Houston ace Justin Verlander, who took his first playoff loss of the year yesterday in game six, told Astros manager A.J. Hinch he was ready to help when needed. Verlander got up in the bullpen as the game grew late and the Dodgers kept fighting, but he wouldn’t be called on. He had done enough, and an unlikely teammate had put the team, and the city, on his back.
Houston had worked through four pitchers before handing the ball to ninth-year journeyman Charlie Morton. Morton is gifted with electric stuff, but has been injured nearly every year in the majors. He’s collected more surgery scars than big game wins…until now. His career is as much the story of resilience and recovery as it is about baseball. The man simply doesn’t know how to quit. He keeps coming back. Year after year, surgery after surgery, rehab assignment after rehab assignment. Houston is probably pretty glad they took a flyer on him this season. Because once he took the ball, he absolutely locked it down. Morton stifled the Dodgers from the sixth inning on, throwing four innings of two-hit ball and silencing the Dodgers’ crowd before extinguishing their hopes entirely.
Because he pitched four full innings, Morton got a win in game seven of the World Series, instead of the save. After the game, when asked what it meant to get that win, by far the most important of his career, he summoned only platitudes and looked away from the cameras, the tears in his eyes telling fans back in Houston all that they needed to know. He had come back one more time, as they all would.
He was Houston Strong.
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.
Image source: twitter.com/astros