Space City Champs: Houston Astros Win 2022 World Series


The strongest team in the American League takes the trophy home. (Courtesy of Twitter)

After posting a dominant regular season record of 106-56 and storming through the postseason, the Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to secure the 2022 World Series title. Their 4-1 game six win on Saturday illustrated the exact kind of grit required to win baseball’s most-coveted accolade and delivered manager Dusty Baker the first championship win of his storied career.

The Astros have dealt with an image problem since the now-infamous 2017 sign stealing scandal. Many fans have questioned the legitimacy of the club’s success in previous years as a result. Regardless of the controversy, Houston’s 2019 and 2021 seasons were undeniably solid. Both campaigns ended with a trip to the Fall Classic, but neither resulted in a title. Something was different in 2022. Perhaps it was that they bashed the fourth-most home runs or that they boasted baseball’s second-best team ERA. Perhaps additions such as Trey Mancini, Christian Vazquez and a revitalized Rafael Montero put them over the top. In any event, it was abundantly clear they were the most complete team in the American League. They swept the “Cinderella” Seattle Mariners in the ALDS and did the same to the touted New York Yankees.

The World Series proved to be more challenging. The red hot Philadelphia Phillies slugged their way to a 2-1 series lead. J.T. Realmuto’s game one heroics and a game three defined by Philadelphia home runs forced the space city to dig deep. Houston grabbed a game two victory thanks to a strong showing from Framber Valdez, but games four, five and six each seemed to be a more complete demonstration of the “Stros” excellence. Christian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Montero and Ryan Pressly threw a combined no-hitter as Houston grabbed a 5-0 win that knotted the series at two games apiece.

Game five could be best described as “the Jeremy Peña game.” The Houston shortstop went 3-4 with a home run and 2 RBI’s en route to a critical 3-2 win. Game six managed to encapsulate what clicked for Houston throughout the series. Once again, Valdez tossed a gem. He turned in six innings of one run baseball and surrendered only two hits. One of those hits happened to be a Kyle Schwarber home run in the top of the sixth inning that briefly gave Philly a 1-0 advantage. Yordan Alvarez flipped the script when he launched a monster three-run home run in the bottom half of the inning off of Philadelphia reliever Jose Alvarado, and propelled Houston to a 3-1 edge. The AL’s best added another run in the inning thanks to a line drive RBI single from catcher Vazquez. Hector Neris, Abreu and Pressly shut the door on the Phillies’ championship dreams and provided three innings of scoreless relief. The Houston Astros won game six by a final of 4-1 and clinched the franchise’s second World Series title. Game five hero Jeremy Peña took home MVP honors. The rookie shortstop hit .400 in the Fall Classic and delivered and delivered three huge RBI’s in the process.

The win gave Baker his first World Series win as a manager. He was a part of the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers title team as a player, but had never won a title as manager. After 25 seasons of managerial work and quite a few close calls, the 73-year old Baker finally received the ultimate prize. He is the oldest manager to ever win the October tournament, but he was sure to give credit to his squad. “I have thought about [winning the World Series] a lot,” Baker said after the series. “I tried to have faith and perseverance and knowing with the right team and right personnel you knew this was going to happen.” The battled tested skipper also made it clear that the 2022 World Champion Houston Astros were a club fueled by the detractors, and one that hopes to remain on the mountain top for as long as they are able to.

“I think that’s what drove this team,” Baker said. “That’s what motivated them. The boos and the jeers that we got all over the country, it bothered these guys, but it also motivated them at the same time. And it wasn’t an ‘us against the world’ thing. It was more of a ‘come together even closer’ type thing. And what happened before, it doesn’t ever pass over completely. But we have turned the page and hopefully we’ll continue this run.”