On Saturday night in Houston, the Astros defeated the Yankees by a score of 4-0 (box score) in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Astros will now advance to take on the Dodgers in the World Series, which begins Tuesday in Los Angeles.
As for Game 7, Houston starter Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers pitching in relief combined for the three-hit shutout. For the Astros, Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve homered, and Alex Bregman shined on defense. On the other side, CC Sabathia allowed only one run despite putting eight men on base in 3 1/3 innings. However, Tommy Kahnle, who had been perfect in the 2017 postseason, gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings. On offense, the Yankees as a team went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.
Here are 14 more things to know about Game 7.
Morton was nails
What an effort from Charlie Morton in the biggest game of his life. He coughed up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in his previous ALCS start, but this time around, he threw the ball very well.
Morton was efficient, needing only 54 pitches to get through five innings, 37 of those pitches going for strikes. He had the stuff, sitting mid-90s with the fastball and masterfully weaving in the ol' 12-to-6 curveball. He allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking one.
The Astros were likely prepared for anything when it came to the pitching plan in this one. Among the most unlikely outcomes heading in, at least for outside observers, was Morton dealing for five scoreless.
It was only five innings -- by design -- but Morton deserves heaps of praise in this one. He stifled a very good offense.
McCullers has a huge ALCS
Lance McCullers Jr. was an All-Star this season and a huge part of the club's success through June. From July through the end of the regular season, though, he battled injury and was 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA in seven starts. In his ALDS start against the Red Sox, McCullers lasted just three innings, giving up two runs.
This series, McCullers looked like first-half Lance. In Game 4 of the ALCS, he got through six scoreless innings allowing only one hit. He gave up a solo shot to Aaron Judge to lead off the seventh and the bullpen would blow the game, but it was still a great outing.
In Game 7 on Saturday, McCullers relieved Morton in the sixth inning in lieu of what has been a volatile bullpen. He would go four scoreless innings, allowing only one hit (a single) and one walk while striking out six and picking up the save in the pennant decider.
Before this series, it appeared the Astros only really had two reliable starters in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, but they have to be feeling pretty good about Morton and McCullers right about now as well.
Astros broke through in fifth
Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Astros had gotten baserunners on but weren't getting them home. They had a 1-0 lead thanks to a solo homer, but had left six guys on base, failing to get the big hit several times. Jose Altuve would homer with one out to give them a bit of a cushion at 2-0.
What came after is what put the Astros in control of this game.
Carlos Correa singled and then reached third on a hit-and-run single from Yuli Gurriel. They were cooking. Still, Evan Gattis struck out and there were two outs. It looked like the Astros might be missing out on a chance to break the game open once again.
Instead, Brian McCann ripped a line drive down the right field line. Two runs scored, it was 4-0 Astros and the win probability shot up over 90 percent.
Those are the types of big hits that win pennants, right?
Kahnle's dominance runs out
Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle has had an excellent postseason. He entered Game 7 with a 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP and nine strikeouts in 10 postseason innings.
He came into a jam to close down the fourth and induced a double play to end the inning on his first pitch. In the fifth, however, Kahnle was touched up for three runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
He's still a great reliever, it's just that the best offense in the AL finally got to him after seeing him a few times.
Bregman's huge play
We already discussed the bottom of the fifth inning, but Morton was helped in a big way in the top half by third baseman Alex Bregman. With runners on the corners and one out, Todd Frazier sent a chopper to third. Greg Bird had doubled and was on third base (he moved over on a wild pitch). He broke on contact. Given that it wasn't hit all that hard, it seemed like Bregman might take the easy out.
Instead, he hosed Bird at home with a perfect strike to McCann.
If Bird ended up safe on that throw, it's a 1-1 tie with two runners on and one out for Chase Headley -- who has been swinging a good bat of late -- and then the top of the order coming up. That's a big-time play from Bregman that helped, along with the offense breaking through in the bottom half of the inning, push everything in favor of the Astros.
Plays at the plate in Minute Maid Park weren't kind to the Yankees in this series. Remember, Game 2 ended on Gary Sanchez dropping a throw at home while Jose Altuve slid in for the walk-off victory.
CC's streak broken
Yankees starter CC Sabathia was 10-0 this season after a Yankees loss, including him looking dominant in Game 3 of this series against the Astros. He was unable to push things to 11-0 in this one obviously, only getting through 3 1/3 innings and allowing a run on five hits and three walks with zero strikeouts.
A DH finally hits a home run
Believe it or not, but a designated hitter had yet to hit a home run this entire postseason entering this game. The first run of the game, naturally, came on a DH home run, when Gattis parked one to left-center off Sabathia in the fourth inning.
Prior to that, Astros DHs in the series were 1 for 20.
Judge robbed a home run
In the second inning, Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge made an outstanding catch to rob Gurriel of a home run. .
Reddick avoids dubious history
Astros right fielder Josh Reddick entered the game 0 for 21 in the ALCS. He made an out in his first at-bat, so that ran him to 0 for 22. Had he ended there, he would've tied Dal Maxville (1968 World Series) for the most at-bats without a hit in a postseason series in history (via James Smyth).
Reddick, though, singled in his next at-bat to end the drought.
Home field rules
We just witnessed a seven-game series in which the home team won every game. It feels like this happens often in the NBA, but in MLB it's not commonplace. In fact, there have only been four postseason series where the home team won every single game (via Dan Hirsch):
Astros make history
This is the second pennant in club history for the Astros, as they won the National League in 2005. So they now have one NL pennant and one AL pennant. They are the only club in MLB history to win one in each league.
Astros pull off another rare feat
The Astros lost the middle three games of the series. They are now the eighth team in history to win a postseason series after having lost three straight games during the series.
World Series is next
Now that we have our AL pennant winner, the focus will soon shift to the World Series. The Astros will fly to Los Angeles and there will be team workouts and World Series media day on Monday in Dodger Stadium. Then, it's on.
Tuesday at 8:07 p.m. ET is Game 1 of the 2017 Fall Classic. We've been building for this since back in mid-February when pitchers and catchers reported to camp. Now it's down to one seven-game series. Hopefully it'll be a classic.
Starting pitchers haven't been confirmed, but Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will be on normal rest for Tuesday. He's a shoo-in. On the Astros' end, Keuchel will be on one day extra rest and then Verlander would be on normal rest for Game 2. As such, we can count on Kershaw vs. Keuchel for Game 1 on Tuesday.
We'll have more time in the upcoming days to discuss the World Series, but we do have one nugget here. The World Series is always fun because it's the World Freaking Series. But how about this one ...
Rare matchup of teams with 100-plus wins
Believe it or not, we haven't seen a postseason series between two 100-win teams since all the way back in 1977, when it was the Royals and Yankees in the ALCS. This is the first time since 1970 (Reds-Orioles) that two 100-win teams have met in the World Series.
Tuesday can't come soon enough. Bring on the Fall Classic.