By Steve Almasy, CNN
The Houston Astros are headed to World Series for the third time in five seasons after defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-0 in Houston on Friday night.
The Astros haven’t won the Series since being embroiled in a sign-stealing controversy after their 2017 championship season, which ended with them beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series. In 2019 they lost the Fall Classic to the Washington Nationals in seven games.
With Friday’s victory, led by cleanup hitter Yordan Alvarez, who went 4-for-4, the Astros won the American League Championship Series four games to two.
On Friday, the Astros took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Alvarez doubled off the heel of Red Sox centerfielder Kiki Hernandez’s glove with two outs. Alex Bregman scored easily from first base.
Alvarez led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple and scored to make it 2-0 Houston when Kyle Tucker grounded into a double play.
The Red Sox had runners at first and third with just one out in the top of the seventh but didn’t score because Astros pitcher Kendall Graveman stuck out Travis Shaw and catcher Martin Maldonado threw out Alex Verdugo trying to steal second.
Tucker put the game out of reach with a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth.
The Astros will face the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first game of this year’s World Series on Tuesday.
The team with the best record during the season will host Games 1 and 2 (and Games 6 and 7, if necessary). The Astros won more games than the Braves but fewer than the Dodgers.
The Braves lead the National League Championship Series three games to two and can close out the Dodgers on Saturday in Game 6 at Atlanta.
Major League Baseball doled out a cheating scandal punishment to the Astros in January 2020 after a report said Houston illegally created a system that decoded and communicated the opposing teams’ pitching signs during the 2017 season.
The punishment included both Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow being suspended without pay for one season, forfeiture of top draft picks, as well as a $5 million fine. Astros owner and Chairman Jim Crane fired both managers the same day the punishment was announced.
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