Mon, Oct 21, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Altuve homer sees Astros advance

AP, HOUSTON, Texas

The Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, left, connects on a series-winning home run against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Jose Altuve, the 1.68m driving force of the Houston Astros, on Saturday delivered a swing that will play in the team’s highlights forever.

Altuve homered off Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the ninth inning as Houston outlasted the New York Yankees 6-4 to advance to the World Series for the second time in three years.

“That’s one of the best moments of post-season history,” Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

In a bullpen Game 6 with a back-and-forth finish, D.J. LeMahieu hit a tying, two-run shot off Astros closer Roberto Osuna in the top of the ninth. Altuve answered with a two-run drive to left-center, setting off a wild celebration at Minute Maid Park and earning himself the American League Championship Series MVP.

“Beautiful game,” Altuve said.

Astros ace Gerrit Cole was waiting to pitch a potential Game 7 yesterday. Instead, the post-season star — undefeated since May 22 — can be lined up for Game 1 at home against the National League Championship Series-winning Washington Nationals tomorrow.

Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer in the first inning, while flashy outfield defense helped Houston’s relievers defeat the Yankees and their vaunted bullpen.

It almost fell apart in the ninth. Gio Urshela singled off Osuna leading off for his third hit of the game and LeMahieu put a ball into the first row of seats in right field — just over the glove of leaping George Springer — to tie it 4-4.

Altuve, a sparkplug touted as Houston’s heart and soul, did not let this one get away.

“I get asked to describe Jose Altuve all the time,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think MVP is what he is.”

The teams combined to use 14 pitchers in a drawn-out game that lasted 4 hours, 9 minutes.

Houston’s Will Harris, who got four outs over the sixth and seventh innings and has yet to allow a run this post-season, was glad Houston’s bullpen got to show their stuff.

“We have a lot of guys with a lot of pride that are really good at their jobs,” he said. “And I was excited for the opportunity for us to prove that today.”

The defense helped. Right fielder Josh Reddick dived for Brett Gardner’s liner for the second out of the sixth. An inning later, left fielder Michael Brantley laid out for Aaron Hicks’ shallow floater and doubled off Aaron Judge at first.

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