Seattle – The star squad wasn’t too tired to celebrate. far from it. Music was blaring in the visiting club in T-Mobile Park, the smell of champagne filled the air and a group of weary and excited players tried to absorb and appreciate what they had just seen.
In perhaps the greatest game in franchise history, eight Astros bowlers combined to throw 18 goal-free rounds and were rewarded when young rookie Jeremy Peña scored the biggest hit of his young career. Peña beat Homer in the 18th inning to send Houston to a thrilling 1-0 win over the Mariners in an epic MLS Series 3 game on Saturday.
Peña took charge this year at Shortstop for Carlos Correa, who was one of the highest-performing playoffs in franchise history, and produced his own signature watershed moment. After preparing his fellow Slugger Yordan Alvarez with singles at games 1 and 2 in Houston, Pena climbed 3-2 from loyalist Ben Murphy who sailed 415 feet into smoke-filled air and over a wall on the 18th. .
“It’s a moment I will remember for the rest of my life,” Peña said.
Peña pumped his fist as he circled the bases, and Astros scattered over the fence and onto the warning path in front of the bunker. Pena is the third rookie in post-season history for Homer in additional roles – and the second in 2022, after Oscar Gonzalez of the Guardians did so in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series vs. the Rays.
“Jeremy is unfazed,” said third baseman Alex Bergman. “He’s a lover. He’s a star. An incredible fellow, an incredible guy.”
“Boy, our cast did a really good job here,” said Astros manager Dusty Becker, who is four wins away from playing for his elusive World Championship title. “They’ve done a good job, especially tonight on us, because it’s hard to keep someone without goals for long on both sides. This is a team. These guys, they grind and grind and grind, and sooner or later we break through.”
After 6 hours and 22 minutes, nearly 500 pitches in total and a whirlwind of emotion, the Astros will have three much-needed days off before facing the Guardians or the Yankees in Game One of the AL Championship Series, with the contest scheduled for Wednesday in Houston. The Astros and the Braves (eight in a row) are the only two teams to make it to the LCS in six consecutive seasons.
“There is no complacency on this team,” said Astros player Justin Verlander, who will start the first game of the ALCS. “No one ever gets complacent. It comes from our guys in command who have been here since we did it. The first names that came to my mind are Bergman, [Jose] Altuve and McCullers, and the men who come after these guys, you can’t help but match their efforts. The way these guys prepare and come in every day to win a baseball game, as a new player in this organization, you can’t help but do the same.”
The 18-round affair has been linked to the longest playoff game in major league history, including Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS, which Chris Burke headed with the Homer Astros against the Braves.
Burke, Peña and Gonzalez: The only three rookies for Homer in post-season additions.
“There is pure fun all around,” said Altuve, who shrugged off a 0-for-8 performance on the board. “They were very happy. I think everyone at the club deserves this. We have worked hard, and we are here.”
With the Astros in control, the Brave Mariners stuck with them throughout a bewildering game. The Astros went to 0 for 11 with the runners in the scoring position, stranded on the loaded bases in fourth and with the runners in second and third in the ninth. Seattle held Houston without a hit from the 10th to 15th inning.
Their show was amazing today too,” said Scott Service, Mariners manager. “We kept putting zero in there and we kept putting zero in there, and you think we’d be able to break through because we had so many times. It’s kind of what we’re used to, playing those tight games and finding a way. But there were no mistakes in that game today. I mean, this is a league game. Big, as the shooting and defense were done there. We weren’t able to put anything together.”
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