His quiet bravado in the face of a raging storm was cool like that. But deep in the recesses of what could have been another catastrophic postseason collapse Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker found his inner Jazzy B and brought his team back to life.
For the third time in five years the Astros are heading back to the World Series after defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-0 to win the American League Championship Series in six games.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) October 23, 2021
Baker became the ninth manager and the first of color to lead teams from both leagues to the fall classic.
“There are some things hovering over me too,” Baker said. “I feel very fortunate to be around these guys with a chance to win the world series.”
Down 3-1 the calm personality of Baker and the confidence he exudes with his toothpick swag and fly glasses were the intangibles that seemed to be the difference in the series.
As the Red Sox were seizing command of the series with their two game offensive barrage Baker was stoic and never gave the impression his team was down.
“He’s a special individual,” said Carlos Correa. “He leads this team in the right way.’
When he was asked by Fox Sports what was the key to their comeback as he prepared to hoist the ALCS trophy, Baker opened up with an old championship baseball philosophy.
“Pitching, defense, and timely hitting,” said Baker. “And plus, these guys always believed that we were going to win. I mean, there was never a doubt in their minds.”
That simple refrain, which has been as much a part of baseball as stirrups and pine tar, was ultimately what turned the series in their direction. Houston found the mojo that made them the AL’s most prolific offense during the regular season and it was if Baker knew that it was only a matter of time for them to break out.
During the closeout game of the series all three phases were on display. Luis Garcia went 5 ⅔ scoreless innings with a frustrating blend of blistering heat and offspeed pitches. Yourdan Alvarez, the series MVP, drove what proved to be the winning run with a triple in the bottom of the first.
Astros catcher Martin Maldonado threw out Alex Verdugo after Travis Shaw struck out to kill Boston’s best shot at rallying in the seventh.
Kyle Tucker, who looked confused in two at bats earlier in the game, put the champagne on ice with a three run blast in the eighth.
The Astros scored 24 runs with two outs during the series and 18 over the final three games of the ALCS and went 12 for 32 with runners in scoring position Their pitching held the Red Sox to one run over the last two games.
Ironically, the only Black American player in the Astros lineup, Michael Brantley, recorded the final out.