1 of 6 | Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton reacts after retiring the New York Yankees in the fifth inning in Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve belted solo home runs and the Houston Astros, laughingstocks throughout the majors following their relocation from the National League, claimed their first American League pennant with a 4-0 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday night in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park.
Houston advances to its first World Series since 2005 on the backs of Altuve, whose opposite-field homer in the fifth inning keyed a three-run frame, and right-handers Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, who worked in tandem to deny the Yankees their 41st pennant.
Hosting their first Game 7 in franchise history, the Astros became the eighth team in postseason history to win a seven-game series after losing three consecutive games during that series. The home team won all four games of the ALCS, with Houston limiting the Yankees to just three runs at Minute Maid Park.
Astros right-hander Justin Verlander was named MVP of the ALCS. He went 2-0 in the series and allowed one run in 16 innings.
The Astros will visit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series.
Gattis crushed his first home run of the postseason off Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia (1-1) leading off the fourth inning. After Altuve clubbed his fifth postseason homer with one out in the fifth off Yankees right-hander Tommy Kahnle, the Astros responded with three hits over their ensuing four plate appearances, with catcher Brian McCann delivering a two-out, two-strike, two-run double to right that scored Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel to double the lead.
After Morton worked the first five innings, McCullers emerged from the bullpen for just the second time in his career and allowed just two baserunners over four dominant innings. McCullers recorded six strikeouts in relief while producing his first career save.
The Astros were convinced that bad luck played a significant role in the loss Morton suffered at Yankee Stadium in Game 3 and, given another opportunity to showcase his worth, Morton validated the faith manager A.J. Hinch showed in naming him the starter in the series finale.
Morton attacked the strike zone early and needed just 28 pitches to complete three innings of work. He pumped in 22 strikes during that stretch and, after retiring the side in order in the fourth, finally hit a trouble spot when he surrendered a leadoff double to Greg Bird in the fifth.
After striking out Starlin Castro, Morton benefited from the combined defensive brilliance of third baseman Alex Bregman and McCann. Bregman fielded a Todd Frazier grounder and fired home to McCann, who applied a perfect tag on Bird as he attempted to score from third.
Morton responded by inducing a ground-ball out from Chase Headley and closed his outing by allowing two hits and one walk over five scoreless innings, adding five strikeouts to his ledger.
NOTES: Astros RF Josh Reddick, who entered the series finale batting 0-for-21, hit ninth in the order for the first time this postseason and just the fifth time overall. Reddick recorded an opposite-field single in his second plate appearance, leaving him tied with Cardinals SS Dal Maxvill (1968 World Series) for the longest hitless streak in one postseason series. ... Yankees RHP Tommy Kahnle had retired 28 of 32 batters faced over six appearances and 10 scoreless innings this postseason before surrendering three runs in the fifth inning. ... With his solo home run in the fifth inning, Astros 2B Jose Altuve recorded his fifth homer of the postseason and moved into second place in franchise history. Astros CF Carlos Beltran clubbed eight postseason homers for Houston in 2004.