A week’s worth of rumors came to an end on Saturday evening when the Houston Astros officially announced their acquisition of right-handed starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While most of Houston is still reveling in the Astros’ thrilling World Series victory, the major league front office is hard at work looking for ways to improve an already-dominant roster. Expect a flurry of activity next week, as baseball’s annual Winter Meetings kick off in Lake Buena Vista, Florida—it’s traditionally one of the busiest weeks of the offseason, and the Astros have a few things on their holiday shopping list.
Jose Altuve first put on an Astros uniform as a 17-year-old playing in the Venezuelan Summer League ten years ago. He’d recently persuaded Astros personnel to tender him a professional contract despite concerns over his diminutive frame. The second baseman stands just 5’6”, about eight inches below the MLB average. The Astros handed him a check for $15,000—a drop in the ocean of their budget for international prospects—and silently hoped for a growth spurt. Altuve, perhaps playing with a chip on his shoulder, batted .343 in 64 games that summer.
Four years ago, the Houston Astros lost 111 games and finished a staggering 45 games out of first place. That’s a long hill to climb, but Houston knew it was in good hands. The team had recently hired Jeff Luhnow as general manager, and his blueprint for building a supertanker of a franchise included some lean years. The payoff, Luhnow said, would be worth the wait.
If you weren’t watching, you’d be forgiven for thinking that rumors of last night’s ballgame are nothing more than tall tales. 25 runs scored in a game started by Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel? Seven more World Series home runs to break the all time record? Blown saves by a pair of the best relievers in the game? It strains credulity.
Whatever you were expecting from Game 2, you weren’t expecting this. After one of the most dramatic postseason games in recent memory, the Astros are heading home with a coveted road win. With the series tied 1-1, Houston carries some pleasant momentum into their upcoming three-game home stand. It took no shortage of small miracles to get them there.
It was a classic October pitcher’s duel—until it wasn’t.
Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw squared off last night to kick off the 2017 World Series, and they mostly lived up to their reputations as two of the best starting pitchers in the game.
For the first ever time, the American League pennant has landed in Houston. Last night, the hometown Astros capped off a remarkable Championship Series against the New York Yankees, winning 4-0 in front of over 43,000 adoring fans. Now they’re headed to Los Angeles for their second Word Series appearance in franchise history, and first since 2005.
The Astros did what they were supposed to do. Now, the Yankees try to fight back.
Starting tonight, Houston and New York do battle in the Bronx, with a trip to the World Series on the line. Staked to a 2-0 series lead, Houston needs only win two of the next five games to advance—but don’t count the Yankees out just yet. They claimed the winner-take-all Wild Card game from Minnesota and rallied from a 0-2 deficit to dispatch the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series last week.