LOS ANGELES (AP) — From laughingstock to lift off.
George Springer and the Houston Astros rocketed to the top of the baseball galaxy Wednesday night, winning the first World Series championship in franchise history by romping past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7.
Playing for a city still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and wearing an H Strong logo on their jerseys, the Astros brought home the prize that had eluded them since they started out in 1962 as the Colt .45s.
“I always believed that we could make it,” All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve said. “We did this for them.”
For a Series that was shaping up as an October classic, Game 7 quickly became a November clunker as Houston scored five runs in the first two innings off an ineffective Yu Darvish. Hardly the excitement fans felt during the Cubs’ 10-inning thriller in Cleveland last fall.
Well, except for everyone wearing bright orange.
“We’re coming home a champion, Houston,” Springer said after accepting the World Series MVP trophy named this year after Willie Mays for the first time.
Altuve, one of four carry-overs from a club that lost an embarrassing 111 times in 2013 after switching from the NL to the AL, and this collection of young stars silenced Dodger Stadium from the get-go.
Normally a starter, Charlie Morton finished up with four stellar innings of relief for the win.
“We held down a really tough lineup,” Morton said. “For my teammates, for the city of Houston, it’s just unbelievable.”
Springer led off the evening with a double against Darvish, and soon it was 2-0.
Springer hit his fifth homer — tying the Series mark set by Reggie Jackson and matched by Chase Utley — when he connected for a record fourth game in a row, making it 5-0 in the second.
That was plenty for Houston manager A.J. Hinch. He pulled starter Lance McCullers Jr. soon after the curveballer crazily plunked his fourth batter of the game, and began a bullpen parade of four relievers that kept the lead as the Astros overcame a shaky postseason bullpen .
“I knew yesterday I didn’t have much,” McCullers said. “I knew I didn’t have much to give other than to gut it out as long as I could.”
Forever known for their space-age Astrodome, outlandish rainbow jerseys and a handful of heartbreaking playoff losses, these Astros will be remembered as champions, finally, in their 56th season.
The club that wears a star on its hat also filled out the Texas trophy case. Teams from the Lone Star State had won most every major crown — Super Bowl, NBA and NHL titles, championships in college football, and men’s and women’s hoops — except the World Series.
Built on the skills of homegrown All-Stars Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel and more, and boosted by the slick trade for Justin Verlander, general manager Jeff Luhnow completed the ascent that some predicted.
Famously, now, there was the Sports Illustrated cover in 2014 — after Houston had lost more than 100 games for three straight years — that proclaimed: “Your 2017 World Series Champs” and featured a picture of Springer in a bright Astros jersey.