The Houston Astros are headed to their first World Series since 2005 and second in franchise history after a Game 7 filled with great pitching, stellar defense, and strong offense to beat the New York Yankees to win the ALCS and take the American League pennant.
Charlie Morton pitched five shutout innings, Lance McCullers backed that up with four of his own, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered, and Brian McCann drove in two runs on a huge hit as the Astros shut out the Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of the ALCS.
The Astros will represent the American League against the National League champs Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, which opens in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 24.
Morton started Game 7 with a three-pitch strikeout of Brett Gardner for the first out of the night in the top of the first. Morton followed that with a groundout and another strikeout for a 1-2-3 top of the inning. George Springer hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning off of CC Sabathia but became the first stranded batter after three consecutive groundouts end the inning.
Gary Sanchez led off the second inning with a single for the Yankees' first hit, but Morton was able to work around it with a fly out, groundout, and strikeout to end the half inning. In the bottom of the inning, Aaron Judge robbed Yuli Gurriel with an amazing leaping catch as he crashed into the right-field wall for the first out. McCann took a four-pitch walk with two outs, then moved to second on a bloop single by Marwin Gonzalez, but both were left stranded as Josh Reddick continued his hitless streak with a pop out to send the scoreless game to the third.
Morton continued to look strong in the top of the third, getting through the hitless half inning thanks to a couple of great defensive plays behind him from Altuve. Alex Bregman reached on an infield single in the bottom of the inning with one out, then moved to second on a walk to Altuve. Carlos Correa grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out, followed by Gurriel grounding out to leave two on base and keep the game tied 0-0 going into the fourth.
Morton had another quick inning in the top of the fourth, retiring the Yankees in order and finishing his fourth inning with his pitch count at only 36. After an extended at-bat by Gattis against Sabathia to start the bottom of the inning, Gattis won the battle and hit a solo shot to left-center field to put the Astros ahead 1-0 and get the first score of the game. McCann followed with his second walk of the game but was out at second on a fielder's choice by Gonazlez for the first out. Reddick finally got his first hit of the series, putting runners on first and second with one out and ending Sabathia's night. Tommy Kahnle was first out of the bullpen and was able to get a double play on his first pitch to end the inning and take the 1-0 game to the fifth.
Greg Bird led off the fifth with a double to the right-field corner then moved to third on a wild pitch from Morton on ball four to Aaron Hicks, putting runners on first and third with one out. Todd Frazier hit a ground ball to Bregman in the next at-bat which he lasered home just in time to get Bird for the second out and save the run. Morton got Chase Headley to hit a ground ball to Altuve for the big third out to end the threat and preserve the 1-0 lead. Kahnle returned to the mound for the bottom of the fifth but was met with a one-out solo homer from Altuve to extend the Astros lead to 2-0. Correa followed with a single, then moved to third on a single by Gurriel, putting runners on first and third with one out. McCann drove a ball into the right-field corner with two outs, scoring two more runs to make it 4-0 Houston, prompting another call to the bullpen. Adam Warren was out next for the Yankees and was able to get the last out to end the extended inning and send the 4-0 game to the sixth.
A.J. Hinch ended Morton's night after five great, scoreless innings and brought in McCullers to start the top of the sixth. McCullers gave up a leadoff single to Gardner but worked around it by getting the next three batters out. Warren pitched again in the bottom of the inning and put the Astros down in order to keep the game at 4-0 going into the seventh.
Springer made another great grab in center field to lead off the seventh as he leaped over Gonzalez to make the catch on a Bird fly out to the wall. McCullers retired the next two batters to finish the 1-2-3 half inning. David Robertson was next out of the bullpen for the Yankees in the bottom half and worked around a one-out single by Correa to get through the inning.
McCullers looked to be in trouble when he started the eighth with a leadoff walk to Frazier on four pitches but battled back with two strikeouts and a flyout to get the next three batters in order. Robertson came back out for another inning of work for the Yankees and retired the Astros in order to send the game to the ninth still 4-0 in the Astros favor.
McCullers returned for his fourth inning of work in the top of the ninth and put the Yankees down in order to earn his first career save and complete the 4-0 shutout to send the Astros to the World Series.
World Series Game 1: The World Series will kick off Tuesday, October 24, at 7 pm CST at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and can be seen on Fox. Starting pitchers have not yet been announced.
This story originally appeared on SportsMap.