HOUSTON – The city of Houston is optimistic its Astros can survive Game 6 and extend the World Series to a final seventh game. They’ve done that before in the postseason.
But if not, it could be one of the saddest days in the history of baseball in the city, since in addition to losing the opportunity to be crowned in the Major Leagues for the second time, it can represent the official end of the “golden generation” of the Astros.
That generation that started with talented, prosperous youngsters who lost three consecutive seasons, more than 100 games, before making the leap to the postseason, which has made an annual tradition in Houston.
There are only four players left who have been to all three world series in five years or who have at least made the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons.
Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel. They were joined by Marwin Gonzalez, who was part of the generation, before leaving at the end of the 2018 season, to return last August.
“We will never forget what they have done for baseball and the city,” Raúl Andrade, a Houston resident of Latin American origin, said Tuesday morning. “They built a dynasty. They’ve been the best team in the majors for the last 10 years. They’re homemade guys who’ve been through it all.”
Correa, Altuve and Bregman were drafted as amateurs by the Astros. Gurriel arrived after his native Cuba. But all four have displaced names like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Bregman, who formed the cornerstone in the franchise’s first World Series and lost to their misfortune in 2005.
Altuve, Correa, Bregman and Gurriel already won the first World Series title in history for the Astros in 2017, have been American League champions in three of the last five seasons and have made their division a fiefdom.
“They have to win this series because if not, it will be very little for everything they have achieved,” Andrade added. “They have been very attacked by what happened with the theft of signals and if they lose they will all say that the championship was for that very reason.”
It is true that in the history of this generation of the Astros there will always be that stain. But also that the previous two seasons have shown that being under the microscope they have been able to overcome everything; from repudiation on and off the pitch in rival stadiums, to continuing to win by coming from behind.
This is what they did in the most recent Championship Series to get their ticket to the Classic against the Atlanta Braves, whom they beat last Sunday, to come to say goodbye to their audience, either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the result of Game 6.
And it is likely to be the firing of Correa, who will become a free agent at the end of the World Series, the first overall pick in the 2012 Draft, and who has signaled that he will hit the market with everything this winter.
“This is a special group,” acknowledged Correa, 27. “I love these guys very much. We have grown together. We have improved together. We always expect perfection from each other and that’s the way we push each other because we want to be better every year. It’s going to be special …”