World Series Game 7: Five key moments from the Astros first-ever championship

It only took 56 seasons, but the Houston Astros are finally World Series champions after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7. During the first 55 years of the team’s existence, the Astros reached the World Series just once.

Considering the club’s history, it was only fitting that Houston made their fans wait just a little longer for a title. For six games, the team found itself in an intense, dramatic battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Houston put its fans through the wringer with stressful and nail-biting wins in both Game 2 and Game 5.

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After such a nerve-wracking series, the Astros gave their fans a break in Game 7. The team jumped out to a hot start immediately, and managed a total of five runs against Dodgers starter Yu Darvish.

In this series, five runs was nothing. So, while there was more breathing room, it was still as uncomfortable as ever. In the end, though, Houston’s bullpen endured, and the Astros won their first-ever World Series title.

Here are five moments that led to the 2017 Houston Astros hoisting the World Series trophy:

The Astros came into existence in 1962. In 2017, they won their first ever championship, defeating the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7. (AP)

GEORGE SPRINGER BREAKS IT OPEN WITH HOMER

Astros slugger George Springer remained the hottest hitter in the series, launching a second-inning two-run homer to extend Houston’s lead to 5-0. In doing so, Springer joined Reggie Jackson and Lou Gehrig as the only players to homer in four consecutive World Series games. Springer is the first to do it in the same World Series, so that’s a fun little footnote and place in history.

After going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts in Game 1, Springer collected 11 hits with five homers over the final six games to earn World Series MVP honors.


ASTROS TAKE LEAD IN WILD FIRST INNING

The first-inning jitters were apparent as both starting pitchers struggled through the opening frame.

Astros starter Lance McCullers worked through it more effectively, escaping a bases loaded jam that included a pair of hit batters.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, was behind 1-0 before he had a chance to settle in. After George Springer doubled leading off, he came around to score on Cody Bellinger’s throwing error, which was aided by Darvish being slow to cover first base. Alex Bregman scored Houston’s second run on Jose Altuve’s ground out.

Brad Peacock throws during the third inning of Game 7 of the World Series. (AP)

BRAD PEACOCK SLAMS DOOR IN THIRD INNING

The Dodgers had some chances to get back in the game, but kept coming up empty-handed. They finished hitting 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position while leaving 10 men on base.

A prime opportunity came in the third inning when Corey Seager singled and Justin Turner was hit by a pitch to start the frame. Lance McCullers, who hit four batters total during his abbreviated outing, would rebound to strike out Cody Bellinger before manager A.J. Hinch got the hook. Enter, Brad Peacock, who was the pitching star with 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 3. Peacock escaped the jam by retiring Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson.

Yasiel Puig wears the face of frustration after the Dodgers blew numerous scoring chances. (AP)

A.J. HINCH PULLS THE RIGHT STRINGS IN THE FIFTH

A number of times this postseason, A.J. Hinch’s bullpen has let him down. So when he pulled Lance McCullers after just 13 batters, you knew there would be some tense moments. The first came in the third inning. Another came in the fifth. With the Astros still clinging to a five-run lead, the Dodgers started to put a small rally together. With one out, two straight batters reached against Brad Peacock.

Instead of sticking with Peacock, Hinch called for lefty Francisco Liriano to pitch against Cody Bellinger. Liriano had only appeared once in the entire World Series, but didn’t look rusty. He got Bellinger to ground into a force out at second. That was good enough for Hinch. He turned things over to Chris Devenski to face Yasiel Puig. That worked as well, after a six-pitch at-bat, Puig lined out to first to end the inning. The last out both loud and scary, but it all worked out. The Astros’ bullpen held the lead.

CHARLIE MORTON GETS THE 12 BIGGEST OUTS IN ASTROS HISTORY

In a shocking twist, it was the Astros much-maligned bullpen that shined all the way through Game 7. Brad Peacock, Francisco Liriano and Chris Devenski all recorded critical outs in the middle innings, which allowed A.J. Hinch to set up the final four frames anyway he saw fit.

Among the available options were his usual late-inning relievers, from closer Ken Giles to set up men Luke Gregorson and Will Harris. Starters Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel were ready to go too, but all he needed was Charlie Morton. The 33-year-old right-hander had made five starts for Houston during the postseason. In Game 7, he gave Hinch 12 outs and led the celebration for Houston’s first-ever World Series title.

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