“To be honest with you, this year’s team is better than last year’s team, I believe,” said third baseman Alex Bregman, who reached base 10 times in the first three games of the series, but went 0-for-9 in Games 4 and 5. “The ball’s got to bounce your way in the postseason. It’s tough, and we’ll learn from it. Everyone in here will have a little bit of an edge to play with next year, a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, knowing that we believe we should have been back-to-back champions.”
Houston was trying to become the first team since the 2000 New York Yankees to win back-to-back rings. It was a quest that started back in mid-February, when the Astros kicked off their title defense amid a swirl of controversy.nfl nike jerseys for cheap
The day before Houston’s first spring training workouts, MLB Network host Chris Russo proclaimed that the Yankees, who’d acquired reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton during the offseason, were the team to beat in the AL. Later that day, Astros ace Justin Verlander took exception on Twitter, where he posted the message, “I can think of a reason why.” When Houston reported for Grapefruit League duty the following day, Verlander elaborated on his response.
“The American League goes through us,” said Houston’s hurler at the club’s West Palm Beach complex. “Obviously, the old saying, to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and I think we proved we were last year.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap
Although the Astros’ 103 wins during the regular season were three more than New York’s total, they finished with the second-best record in the majors behind the Red Sox, who won 108 games. Anchored by Verlander and offseason trade pickup Gerrit Cole, Houston’s pitching staff worked to a 3.11 ERA, best in the bigs. The offense, which had to withstand injuries to reigning MVP Jose Altuve and star shortstop Carlos Correa, ranked sixth in scoring.
Despite being pushed by two surprising AL West rivals in the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners, the Astros spent all but three weeks in first place on their way to their eighth division crown in franchise history. They then swept the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, outscoring them by a combined score of 21-6. That set up a playoff rematch with the Red Sox, who were eliminated by the Astros in last year’s AL Division Series and had beaten the wild-card Yankees 3-1 in this year’s division series.