Astros conquer Yanks, sieze A.L. crown

Posted 10/22/19

Jose Altuve answered a late New York comeback bid with a walk-off homerun in game six of the American League Championship Series on Saturday to propel the Astros to their second World Series in three years.

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Astros conquer Yanks, sieze A.L. crown

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Jose Altuve answered a late New York comeback bid with a walk-off homerun in game six of the American League Championship Series on Saturday to propel the Astros to their second World Series in three years.

Houston began their push for another title against the National League Champion Washington Nationals on Tuesday night in a game one matchup that featured aces Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer in Houston.

Cole would have had to start a winner-take-all matchup against the Yankees on Sunday if New York had been able to force a game seven. It appeared as if they had a chance to do just that on Saturday when D.J. LeMahieu hit a game-tying, two-run homerun off of Houston closer Roberto Osuna in the top of the ninth.

Yankee flamethrower and postseason veteran Aroldis Chapman was on his way to an easy bottom half of the ninth with two outs and nobody on before walking George Springer to set the stage for Altuve. The 5-foot-6 Houston icon then added to his lengthy resume with a shot over the yellow line in left-center, instantly delivering the fans one of the most memorable moments in franchise history.

Chaos ensued.

Altuve joins Bill Mazeroski of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates as the only two players in baseball’s long history to hit a walk-off, series-ending homerun after their team surrendered the lead in the same inning. Mazeroski’s blast in game seven of the ’60 Fall Classic helped the Pirates upset Mickey Mantle and the heavily-favored Yankees once upon a time.

Speaking of underdogs, the Washington Nationals have something to prove against Houston. The Astros are the most heavily-favored team to win the World Series entering game one since the 2007 Boston Red Sox, who went on to sweep the Colorado Rockies.

The Astros have earned the high praise, but it would not be wise to overlook the Nationals. Washington surrendered just six total runs in a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS and have not lost since Oct. 6. In fact, they have not even trailed in a game since Oct. 9. They defeated the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the Divisional Series after qualifying for the postseason with 93 wins and a wildcard out of the N.L. East.

If you can pitch, you can win in the postseason. Washington’s pitching has been deadly and will likely hold its own throughout much of the series. Ultimately, I expect the Astros to overwhelm the Nationals and win in six hard-fought games.

While the Astros celebrated another A.L. Pennant, the Houston Texans fell back down to earth after defeating Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in week six. The Texans surrendered the top spot in a wide-open AFC South with a 30-23 loss to the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday.

Brissett roasted Houston for four touchdown passes to put Indianapolis at 4-2 through seven weeks. The Colts appear to be in more than capable hands after the retirement of Andrew Luck and will remain playoff contenders in the AFC throughout the season.

The Texans, meanwhile, will feel disappointed with a critical road loss just one week removed from defeating the Chiefs. Deshaun Watson threw one touchdown and a pair of interceptions as the Texans struggled to finish drives with six. He was able to find DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone, who posted 106 receiving yards in the loss.

Houston (4-3) sits in second place in the South behind Indianapolis and ahead of the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, both 3-4. The Texans will now host the Oakland Raiders and travel to Jacksonville before three difficult tests against the Baltimore Ravens (5-2), Colts and New England Patriots (7-0).

The Chiefs were able to bounce back from two straight home losses with a 30-6 victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday, but Mahomes injured his knee while attempting to move the chains with his legs on a fourth-and-short.

A knee injury will always result in instant panic, but it appears to be a dislocated kneecap rather than something more serious. The Texas Tech phenom, who has also been battling an ankle injury in 2019, will likely miss three weeks.

While we have yet to reach the halfway point of the season, it would be very difficult for the Chiefs to fight their way back into the AFC’s one-seed conversation. They already trail the undefeated Patriots by two games and have matchups against capable opponents over the next three weeks, including the Green Bay Packers (5-1). They will have to rely on backup quarterback Matt Moore during this stretch and will likely pick up a third loss.

On top of that, New England is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Patriots have outscored their first seven opponents 223-48 to start the 2019 season, a feat engineered by the NFL’s finest defense.

Granted, the true threats on New England’s schedule lurk patiently in the near future. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will battle playoff contenders in five of their next six games, including Kansas City on Dec. 8 (at home), but it is hard to imagine more than a loss or two in the coming months. The Champs are currently allowing an average of just over six points per game.

The Patriots and San Francisco 49ers (6-0) are the last remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. Both picked up shutout victories in week seven over the New York Jets and Washington, respectively.

The Dallas Cowboys earned a much-needed victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a critical NFC East matchup in Jerry World on Sunday night. The win puts Dallas at 4-3 atop the conference’s weakest division.

The Cowboys got back to their early season ways in the 37-10 rout over Philly. They ran for nearly 200 yards in the win, led by 111 from Ezekiel Elliot behind a fine performance by the offensive line. Zeke and Dak Prescott each picked up a rushing touchdown. Prescott would throw for another score along with 239 yards, the majority of which came by way of Amari Cooper.

The Cowboys now have the upper hand on the struggling Eagles in the East, but will face a current playoff contender in all but two of their final nine matchups. Dallas and Philly will likely fight for an ugly division title throughout the year.

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