The Houston Astros dropped Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday, losing to the Yankees, 8-1, in the Bronx. That, however, couldn’t dampen Houston spirits – not those of the players, and certainly not those of the fans.
It’s just been that kind of year, especially since the acquisition of Justin Verlander in late August.
“It was in the midst of a lot of turmoil, and the Astros had been on an extended road trip because of Hurricane Harvey, and the devastation to the city was on everybody’s mind,” former MLB pitcher and current Astros radio analyst Steve Sparks said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Families were back home, and nobody knew really what to expect as the Astros arrived back in Houston.”
The Astros had an off day, but the night before, everybody got word that the Astros had obtained Verlander.
It was pure elation.
“Jose Altuve was talking at the press conference before (Game 2 of the ALCS), saying, ‘Hey, I didn’t want that off day. I just wanted to see Justin Verlander in a Houston Astros uniform because I couldn’t believe it. That’s all I could dream,’” Sparks recalled. “It boosted everybody’s spirits at a time where everybody was really feeling down. There was a lot of things going on.”
Especially since the Astros were quiet at the July 31 trade deadline.
“There was a bit of a letdown that not more was done at the first trade deadline, and the team was really lackluster for the month of August,” Sparks said. “So with that acquisition, the team getting out in the community and getting a chance to be part of the healing process with the community in Houston, and trying to be part of what’s good about baseball when it can take your mind off some of your pent-up frustration with what everybody’s going through (were good).”
Verlander pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the ALCS. He scattered five hits and struck out 13 Yankees in a 2-1 win.
The Astros remain two wins away from their first World Series appearance since 2005.
“This has been six weeks now since Hurricane Harvey, and you tend to forget because there’s so many other things going on in the world,” Sparks said. “But this is devastating. These people are hurting. It’s going to be like that for two or three more years, I would imagine, before things get back to some type of normalcy. These players are playing for a little bit more than just themselves this year because of what the community means to them.”