After fumbling away the 2019 World Series against the Nationals, Houston has yet to grow from their past.
Say what you will about the Houston Astros, but this team knows how to win. Yes, they cheated their way to a World Series title in 2017 and that will never be forgotten. Yet, since the scandal was reported, they have reached the ALCS the past two seasons and are currently playing in the World Series for the third time in five years.
In fact, their current World Series run is reminiscent of their 2019 season. The 2019 playoffs saw the Astros stumble against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS before winning the decisive game five. Against the Yankees in the ALCS, Houston was overwhelming and won the series in six games thanks to a Jose Altuve walk-off bomb.
Entering the World Series, they were massive favorites against the Nationals and jumped out to an early Game 1 lead thanks to Yuli Gurriel’s two-run double. With ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, Houston was in a comfortable position to run away with the game. Ryan Zimmerman silenced the Houston crowd with a solo shot in the second inning and Juan Soto added three RBIs as the Nats won 5-4. The Astros had a chance in games one and two to bury the Nationals, but never took advantage.
Houston’s home crowd is a wild bunch and can make the environment feel hostile for opposing players. Silencing them is hard to do, but it goes a long way to winning in that stadium. That’s exactly what Washington was able to do thanks to the heroics of Howie Kendrick, Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto, and Anthony Rendon. Washington went on to win the 2019 World Series in seven games and in a shocking turn of events, they won all four games on the road. That had never been accomplished before.
To start this year’s playoffs, the Astros made quick work of the White Sox in the ALCS and overcame a 2-1 deficit to dispatch the Red Sox in six games in the ALCS. After winning Game 6 at home, Carlos Correa told reporters the team had 2019 on their mind and that they didn’t want to repeat past mistakes of not putting away the series when given the chance.
When he made that statement, it seemed the Astros had finally learned what the Nationals had taught them. To put their opponents away early and make their home fans a factor. Unfortunately for Houston, they are already making past mistakes. Entering the World Series, the Astros are once again favorites against an NL East opponent. Last night in Game 1 of the World Series against Atlanta, the Braves jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it. Jorge Soler led off the game with a solo shot to silence the crowd.
Houston had a chance with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first but they left them stranded. That was their chance to get the crowd back on their side. Atlanta would continue to add on insurance runs throughout the game and every chance Houston would start to get a rally together, they would shut the door. Atlanta won 6-2 and has a 1-0 lead in the series and is following in the Nationals 2019 footsteps.