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Astros take first World Series win with a wild 7-6 comeback in Game 2

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The Astros don’t have a guaranteed championship title yet, but you can’t say they’re never won a World Series game. Marwin Gonzalez sparked a stunning rally in the ninth inning of Game 2 on Wednesday, going deep against the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen before George Springer cemented the 7-6 win with his second postseason home run in the 11th.

With Verlander on the mound, the Dodgers knew this was going to be a tough one to win, even with the benefit of home-field advantage. They were stifled through 4 2/3 no-hit innings as Verlander fried the strike zone with 42 strikes, whiffing five of 10 batters before Joc Pederson broke up his bid with a game-tying two-out home run in the fifth.

That wasn’t enough for the Dodgers, who returned in the sixth with Corey Seager’s two-run, 383-foot blast. (No one, it should be noted, was more thrilled by this than Clayton Kershaw.) Verlander hadn’t given up more than a double since Game 4 of the ALDS, when Andrew Benintendi scored a fifth-inning solo shot in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Astros.

The home runs could not have been more timely. Rich Hill struggled to replicate the same kind of dominance that powered Clayton Kershaw’s Game 1 win on Tuesday. He started the game with a seven-pitch walk to George Springer and worked into a jam in the third inning, issuing base hits to Josh Reddick and George Springer before Alex Bregman plated a run on a line drive to left field. The fourth inning was another mixed bag; the Astros put a runner in scoring position thanks to a pair of walks from Hill and a passed ball by Austin Barnes, but the southpaw shut down their rally with a pair of three-pitch strikeouts to Gonzalez and Verlander.

It wasn’t enough to hold the Astros back forever, though. Hill made his exit after four innings, leaving the remaining five innings to the bullpen. Kenta Maeda, Tony Watson, Ross Stripling and Brandon Morrow combined for a scoreless fifth, sixth and seventh, but just as they were preparing to wind down and clinch the win, Houston caught another break in the eighth. Bregman lined a double into the right field corner that just tipped off the edge of Yasiel Puig‘s glove, causing Puig to chuck his glove at the warning track in frustration.

Kenley Jansen promptly replaced Morrow, but Altuve’s groundout moved Bregman to third base and Correa’s RBI single plated another run. It was the first run the bullpen had given up in an MLB-record 28 postseason innings and the first Jansen had given up all month. In the ninth, Gonzalez did one better, mashing a 398-foot home run to tie the game.

The real kicker came in extras. Altuve wasted no time putting up his first World Series home run to take the lead in the top of the 10th, while Correa provided the exclamation point to the Astros’ rally with his own 427-foot blast, marking the first back-to-back extra-inning homers in World Series history.

The Dodgers retaliated with Puig’s solo home run in the bottom of the inning, tying the game up again with Enrique Hernandez‘s two-out RBI single. In the 11th, with Dave Roberts fresh out of relievers not named Brandon McCarthy, George Springer returned for the go-ahead home run. One Charlie Culberson home run and Chris Devenski game-ending strikeout later, the Astros secured the long-awaited conclusion to their four-hour, 19-minute contest.

The series is headed back to Houston on Friday, where Yu Darvish will attempt to regain the lead against Lance McCullers. The Astros, unlike their World Series rivals, have yet to lose at home this October. Game time is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET; luckily for all those in attendance, the forecast is much more temperate.

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.