Just like their city, Houston Astros prove relentless in wild World Series comeback

LOS ANGELES -- In Game 1 of the World Series the Los Angeles Dodgers channeled its market with a relief-ensuing win over the Astros. In Game 2, it was the Astros that found its connection to its fans, their needs and a cause that goes beyond sports.

Sports teams, I wrote Tuesday, often reflect the personalities and passions of their teams. I neglected to mention the Houston Astros in that column. But on Tuesday few should miss the connection between that team and the city it is playing for.

In a riveting, back-and-forth, instant World Series Classic, the Astros turned a 7-6 11th-inning win into the perfect expression of its city at this moment: Both are in the midst of comebacks, both understand that being undaunted must now define them, and both get that the other -- one a city recovering from Hurricane Harvey, the other a mere baseball team -- can in some powerful way reflect the best of each other.

On the baseball side, the Astros were in dire straights. Justin Verlander somehow surrendered just two hits in six innings but gave up three runs on two homers. Yet the Astros, staring at an 0-2 series hole and a World Series loss in which it would somehow give up two meager hits, somehow found a way to tie the game in the ninth inning. That they did so on a Marwin Gonzalez home run against Kenley Jansen, the game's surest closer, only cemented the team's resilience. 

That alone would have been a moral victory and a fitting metaphor had the Dodgers ended up winning in extra innings. But the Astros weren't done.

In the 10th, Jose Altuve hit a go-ahead and home run, and Carlos Correa followed with his own shot. Two-run lead. And still not enough, as the Dodgers responded with two of their own runs in the bottom of the inning. 

Houston's response? 

No problem.

George Springer hit a two-run shot in the 11th, and the Astros held off another bottom-of-the-frame Dodgers push to win 7-6.

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George Springer hit the go-ahead home run in the 11th to secure a 7-6 win in Game 2. USATSI

Baseball is just a game, and Harvey was a literal force of nature that stole lives and shook a city to its core. They are different things. I get it. But sometimes it is the things that don't actually matter -- like sports -- that somehow matter the most in the face of true tragedy, whether it's the first ballgame after 9/11, the first return to the field after the loss of a parent, or the first World Series win, ever for this franchise, after a hurricane that not long ago felt so utterly unending and unstoppable.

Our games matter. The Astros comeback win against the Yankees in the ALCS, in which they returned to their city and won two straight to advance to this World Series, was the start. And it was another powerful echo of Houston the city in Houston the baseball team.

It also makes the possibility of giving that city a celebration it craves and a moment it deserves that much more possible. Since 1987 -- a year before the Dodgers won its last World Series -- the team that has won Game 1 of the World Series has won 24 of the 29 October classics. Last year's Cubs were the last to do so, and how fitting it would be to follow up that miracle with a different kind for Houston.

And this: The World Series has been knotted at 1-1 56 times since going to a best-of-seven-games format. The team that went on to win Game 3 won the whole thing 69 percent of the times. So, yes, of course, it was a huge win Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. 

And here is a lot of baseball to be played. Yu Darvish awaits in Friday's game, and a Dodgers offense that has been formidable this postseason found itself again in this loss. L.A.'s bullpen will almost certainly return to its dominant form, and Kershaw will pitch again, too, if need be.

Just don't count out the Astros. Ever. At any point.

This is an uber-talented baseball team channeling its resilient city to be resilient itself under the harsh and unpredictable light of October baseball. And that, perhaps as much as anything, has the power to bring more magic to the games ahead.

National Columnist

Bill Reiter began his career as a newspaper journalist before becoming a national columnist at CBS Sports. He currently hosts a national CBS Sports radio show from New York City from 6 to 10 p.m. ET called... Full Bio

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