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ALCS Game 6: Jose Altuve propels Houston Astros to World Series in true bullpen game vs. New York Yankees

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The Houston Astros sent the New York Yankees back to the Bronx in a Game 6 win using the method of scoring they have used most: the long ball.

It could not have happened to any more of a fan favorite than Jose Altuve, whose two-out clutch swing off the bat left New York Yankees flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman smiling in disbelief on the mound. 

In a true bullpen game of sorts, where the Yankees and Astros each utilized seven pitchers, no pitcher went further than 2.2 innings pitched. 24-year-old right-hander Jose Urquidy was the pitcher left in the longest, going 2.2 innings and allowing just three hits (including a solo shot from Gio Urshela), one walk, and five strikeouts.

Houston started the night with Brad Peacock, the same pitcher they used to end Game 5. He dominated the first inning, only needing seven pitches to sit down the top three batters in the Yankees’ lineup.

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The Astros would pull ahead in the bottom half of the first, never really looking back until the ninth inning. The Yankees went with Chad Green as their starter, who had 98 strikeouts in 69 innings of work in the regular season.

Green opened with a quick strikeout of George Springer but then served up a double to Altuve, who finished the night 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Alex Bregman would draw a walk two batters later, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel blasted a three-run shot over the left field wall to put the Astros ahead in a crucial Game 6.

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The Yankees answered back, not needing the home run to get on the board. Didi Gregorious hit a double and scored on Gary Sanchez’s single. The Yankees could have added more, but a tough Brett Gardner at-bat ended in a strikeout with two runners stranded.

The next inning saw a similar situation for the Yankees: runners in scoring position, primed and ready to strike. However, they failed to come through as Gregorious grounded out to pitcher Ryan Pressly with the bases loaded to end another threat.

Urshela finally broke through with a solo home run in the fourth when the Astros put in Urquidy. The Astros then tightened up on defense and prevented their opponents from scoring until the wild ninth inning.

Astros outfielders Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley made crucial diving catches in the sixth and seventh innings to continue to shut down rallies. After diving and catching a liner in left field, Brantley stood and fired to first to double up Aaron Judge, taking the wind out of the Yankees sails. 

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It would be the Houston infielders’ turns to provide spectacular defense in the eighth, where Altuve had to lunge to his left on a Gary Sanchez grounder. He fielded the ball and threw across his body to Carlos Correa at second, who fired to first to complete another big-time double play. 

The Yankees would not let this stellar defense get them down. When closer Roberto Osuna came in to get the final three outs to send his team to the World Series, he would only get one of them before one swing of the bat shifted the momentum.

D.J. LeMahieu, after being one of the top American League hitters all season, sent a pitch to right field. It landed inches from an extended George Springer’s glove … and over the wall. Home run. The Yankees, having rally after rally killed by stellar defense, finally found a way to put the baseball past the Astros’ gloves, tying the game 4-4 in the ninth.

Aaron Boone would send Aroldis Chapman out to hold the Astros. After two quick outs, Springer worked a five-pitch walk, bringing up the face of the Astros, Jose Altuve. On the fourth pitch he saw, Altuve swatted a Chapman slider up and away to left-center. The ball hit the wall above the yellow home run line, and Altuve ran around the bases with a smile. 

His Astros were World Series bound. 

For the second time in three seasons, the Houston Astros have earned a trip to the Fall Classic. This time, it will be a little different. The fresh and hungry Washington Nationals await them, eager to put away all of the postseason woes in the past once and for all. 

Game 1 is Tuesday in Houston. Buckle up.

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