A city once in ruin, submerged in the floodwaters of a hurricane, emerged to earn a historic World Series championship. Rewind to Aug. 31, 2017, when at noon, 34-year-old Justin Verlander signed with the Houston Astros. At 12:01 p.m. of the same day, 37 people were confirmed dead in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Tragedy often seems to motivate athletes. The Saints won the Super Bowl following Katrina, and the Red Sox won the World Series following the Boston Marathon Bombing. The Astros certainly rushed forth with the fierceness of floodwaters following Harvey. With Verlander in their pen, the team finally had defensive prowess to go along with their No. 1 offense. The Astros advanced to the World Series after a hard-fought battle against the New York Yankees. Houston bats struggled in the Bronx, while the Astros bullpen struggled everywhere.
“If we’re not throwing Keuchel or Verlander or — you know, Charlie Morton had a good game — but if we’re not throwing those guys and we have to go to our bullpen or we have to go to our bullpen a second time, it’s usually pretty bad,” said junior Matthew Colliflower, a longtime Astros fan.
Going into the World Series, Houstonians — including many Trinity students — hoped to, as the marketing slogan says, “Earn History.”
“We just don’t want a repeat of 2005,” said sophomore Houstonian Will Insull, referencing Houston’s only other World Series appearance, in which the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox.
“[The Dodgers] can take advantage of their bullpen ‘cause they kind of struggle there on the backend,” said Johnny Kasis, a senior and Los Angeles native.
In Game 1, Astro hitters faced Dodger Ace Clayton Kershaw, who presented a formidable challenge.
“[Kershaw] is the best pitcher out there,” said sophomore Houstonian Miles Fuqua, “It’s a little scary.”
In Game 1, the Dodgers’ southpaw took the 3-1 win, giving up only three hits.
A Bregman RBI started Game 2 with a 1-0 Astros lead. T-Mobile pledged to give $30,000 to hurricane recovery for every home run scored in this World Series. Game 2, which started with a Bregman RBI, saw homers from the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson and shortstop Corey Seager, and the Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez’s homer drove the 3-3 game into extra innings. The 10th inning saw homers from José Altuve and Carlos Correa. Houston lead 5-3; LA right fielder Yasiel Puig homered. LA’s Enrique Hernández sent the game into the 11th inning. A two-run homer from centerfielder George Springer gave Houston a 7-5 lead, after which LA’s Charlie Culberson scored the last home run of the night before the Astros won their first World Series game in franchise history.
In Game 3, the Astros put up a four-run second inning beginning with first baseman Yuri Gurriel’s homer. The score rose to 5-1 in the fifth with Evan Gattis’s RBI single. Down by 4, the Dodgers managed to make the sixth inning crooked with two runs, but with a score of 5-3, the Astros went into Game 4 with a 2-1 advantage.
In Game 4, the Astros got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a Springer dinger. The Dodgers answered in the top of the seventh inning as Logan Forsythe singled on a sharp line drive scoring first baseman Cody Bellinger. With a tied game in the ninth inning, the Dodgers gained five runs from catcher Austin Barnes, Pederson, and Bellinger — the last of which was a three-run homer. Despite Bregman following up with a one-run homer, the Dodgers evened the series with a 6-2 game.
In the fourth inning, with a score of 4-0, the Astros were left in the dust. In the bottom of the fourth, however, a Correa double and a three-run homer from Gurriel tied the game 4-4. In the next inning, LA first baseman Cody Bellinger scored his own three-run homer; LA lead 7-4. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Altuve scored yet another three-run homer, tying the game at 7-7. Bellinger tripled, and the Dodgers gained a 7-8 lead. In the seventh inning, a one-run homer from Springer tied the game. A double from Altuve broke the tie. Correa homered, giving the Astros an 8-11 lead, and the Astros lead 9-12 going into the ninth inning. A home run from the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig shrunk the Astros’ lead to 1. With an 11-12 score, a Chris Taylor RBI single brought the game to 12-12, the fourth tie of the night, which remained at the bottom of the 10th inning. After Alex Bregman hit a walk-off single, the Astros won the five-hour long Game 5 with a score of 12-13. The seven-homer game gave Houston a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6.
“It was the best baseball game I’ve ever watched,” said sophomore Astros fan Amanda Gerlach.
The series moved to LA for Game 6. Despite scoring in the top of the third with a one-run homer from Springer, the Astros failed to score again. Bottom of the sixth saw Taylor and Seager allow Barnes and Chase Utley runs, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead sending the series into Game 7.
“It’s gonna be better than a sweep,” Insull said, “At least a six or seven game series.”
The Astros started Game 7 strong in the first inning with Springer scoring off an error. Bregman scored off an Altuve RBI groundout and the score was brought to 2-0. In the second inning, an RBI from McCullers — the first World Series RBI from an American League pitcher since 2009 — furthered the Astros lead 3-0. With Springer homering in his fourth straight game, the eventual MVP increased the lead to 5-0. In the sixth inning, Ethier got the Dodgers on the board, trailing the Astros 5-1. Closer Charlie Morton took the win, which gave Houston their first ever World Series.
Throughout playoffs, the team wore “Houston Strong” patches on their uniforms. In their clubhouse hangs a photograph of a car submerged underwater. Houston is still healing from one of the worst hurricanes in history. On Aug. 31, when Houston had lost everything, baseball was the last thing on anybody’s mind, but it was that day, on Aug. 31, that the Astros gained Verlander and in many ways the tides turned for the team on that day. The Astros’ lineup of talented hitters now had an ace to drive them to the highest level of competition. One month later, the acquisition of Verlander paid off and on Nov. 1, the team won their first World Series in franchise history.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said junior Houstonian Alison Farb, on the phone with her mother after the Astros victory. “My mom’s about to cry.”
The Houston Astros, once lovable losers, now are crowned the greatest in the league. The city of Houston, after months of destruction and pain, stands strong as champions.
“We conquered the hurricane and we conquered the Dodgers,” Farb said.