Astros playing for more than a title in hurricane-ravaged Houston
A little more than a week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August, the Houston Astros returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the storm, taking the field with “Houston Strong” patches sewn on the left breast of their uniforms and with thousands of people who had been displaced in the stands.
The Astros have a record of 30-14 since then, including an 18-3 record at Minute Maid Park.
Manager A.J. Hinch doesn’t believe his team’s sterling record is a coincidence.
“Any time you’re on the national stage, you play for your city,” he said. “When something like the hurricane happens, there’s even greater responsibility to represent your city and bring awareness to the things that are needed to rebuild …
”We could feel how important the Astros became to the city of Houston and the residents. What does the World Series do to that city? Obviously, it gives some hope. It gives appreciation. It gives a smile or two for people going through some hard times. And for that we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Flooding from the storm, the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the U.S., killed 89 people, displaced more than 30,000 and caused more than $70 billion in damage.
Part of the destruction occurred in Corpus Christi, where Sunday’s starter, Dallas Keuchel, spent two seasons in the minor leagues.
“When you break it down, we represent all of Texas,” Keuchel said. “It makes you feel like your home had been devastated. And that’s what we talked about playing for after everything.”
The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger hugs Joc Pederson after Pederson’s three-run homer in the ninth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Cody Bellinger flips his bat as he hits an RBI double in the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers tosses his bat after hitting an RBI double in the ninth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Joc Pederson connects for a ninth-inning three-run homer to give the Dodgers a 6-1 lead over the Astros.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Joc Pederson celebrates his three-run home run in the ninth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Joc Pederson celebrates his three-run home run in front of Astros catcher Brian McCann in the ninth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Joc Pederson, left, and third base coach Chris Woodward celebrate Pederson’s three-run homer in the ninth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Austin Barnes celebrates with teammates in the Dodgers bullpen after hitting a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers raises his arms after hitting a double against the Astros to break his hitless streak in the seventh inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Astros catcher Brian McCann tags out Austin Barnes, who was trying to score from third base in the sixth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Austin Barnes is tagged out by Astros catcher Brian McCann while trying to score from third base in the sixth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez and Astros pitcher Charlie Morton watch the ball sail into right center field for a sixth-inning hit.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Astros’ George Springer hits a solo home run against Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood in the sixth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood watches a home run by the Astros’ George Springer in the sixth inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers starter Alex Wood catches his breath between batters as he pitches in the fourth inning against the Astros.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Umpire Laz Diaz calls the Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez out on strikes in the third inning against Astros pitcher Charlie Morton.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor is tagged out by Astros shortstop Carlos Carrea while trying to steal second base in the first inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Chris Taylor of the Dodgers is caught stealing to end the top of the first inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Dodgers’ Alex Wood throws a pitch against the Astros in the first inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton throws to the Dodgers’ Corey Seager during the first inning.(Matt Slocum / AP)
Dodger players huddle in the dugout before Game 4.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Cody Bellinger sits in the Dodgers dugout before Game 4.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen throws from his knees during batting practice.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Andre Ethier of the Dodgers fields a fly ball during batting practice.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson tosses a ball to fans in right field during batting practice before Game 4.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A lesson Astros third baseman Alex Bregman learned the hard way against the Angels has twice benefited him and the Astros during the playoffs.
With runners at first and third during a Sept. 24 game against the Angels at Houston, Bregman fielded a ground ball hit by Justin Upton and tried to turn an inning-ending double play. Upton beat the throw to first, a run scored, and the Angels won the game.
Afterward, Astros coaches told Bregman he should throw home if a similar situation arose during the playoffs, because runs were likely to be at a premium.
In the sixth inning Saturday, he charged in to stab a Chris Taylor chopper and threw out Austin Barnes, who was running on contact from third.
A week earlier, in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, he made a similar play on Greg Bird in the fifth inning of a one-run game that the Astros went on to win. On that play, catcher Brian McCann made a great play to make the tag and hang onto the ball.
The Astros had been praised for their hitting and stellar relief pitching in the Series’ first three games — not so much in Game 4 — but they have played stellar defense throughout.
They have turned five double plays and made only one error.
“We have athletes all over the field. We do execute plays,” Hinch said before Saturday’s game. “To see it on the biggest stage is why we’re having the success that we’re having.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series
Video: Kenley Jansen, Cody Bellinger, Rich Hill talk about losing Game 7
Video: Analysis: Dodgers lose Game 7 and the World Series
Video: Yu Darvish talks about using his slider for Game 7
Video: Kenley Jansen and others talk about winning Game 6
Video: Analyzing the Dodgers Game 6 win
Video: Clayton Kershaw on starting Game 5 of the World Series
Video: Dave Roberts Talks Rich Hill and Kenley Jansen pitching in Game 6
Video: Dave Roberts talks preparing for Game 7
Video: Here it is, Game 7, and Bill Plaschke knows who wins
Video: Rich Hill talks about Game 6 of the World Series
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11
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