From Cheaters to Champions: Astros win 2022 World Series


via Instagram (@astrosbaseball)

The Houston Astros are 2022 World Series Champions.

Stephen Wade, Contributing Writer

The Houston Astros have truly gone from cheaters to champions.

For the past few years, the Astros have been the most hated team in baseball, possibly all of sports. But now, they have won the World Series without cheating and they have made it clear that they are powerhouse team in Major League Baseball. 

The Astros faced allegations of cheating during the 2017 regular season, including the World Series that they won. By 2019, people caught on that players had been banging trash cans to let the hitter know what pitch was coming, after using a camera in center field to steal the catcher’s signs. That team was labeled as nothing more than a bunch of cheaters.

Major League Baseball reprimanded the Astros’ by suspending the general manager along with manager A.J. Hinch for one year. The team also lost its first-round draft picks for the next two seasons. 

Despite these punishments, it wasn’t enough for many fans of the game. They wanted the Astros stripped of their World Series title – especially fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team the Astros beat to win. Astros players were relentlessly hated, booed, and talked trash to (no pun intended). Fans even made trash cans with the Astros logo on them. 

Going into the 2022 season, the Astros saw only five returning players from the 2017 team: second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, and starting pitchers Lance McCullers and Justin Verlander. 

However, the ‘Stros stayed strong, winning the American League pennant with a playoff sweep of the New York Yankees, and making it to the World Series in four of the last six seasons. But they have struggled to secure another championship to silence the haters and earn the the title of “champions.”

But, after punching their ticket to the World Series once again, these players had another chance to win without the trash cans. Houston battled a red-hot Philadelphia Phillies team that lost only two games all postseason and were undefeated at home up until that point.

The first two games were played in Houston, where the Phillies came back from a 5-0 deficit to win Game 1 by a score of 6-5 in extra innings. The win was topped off by a homer in the tenth inning by Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto to seize the lead. 

After a demoralizing Game 1 defeat, the Astros bounced back to take Game 2. They scored three runs in the first inning after RBI doubles from shortstop Jeremy Peña and outfielder Yordan Alvarez, both young rising stars on the team. The Astros held onto the lead and even added to it with a two-run homer from veteran third baseman Alex Bregman to win 5-2.

The next three games were not as easy for the Astros: the Phillies had an intimidating home field advantage with sellout crowds of over 40,000 people and an undefeated record at home in the postseason. 

The Phillies flexed their home field advantage in Game 3 by launching five home runs as a team, tying a World Series record, and winning 7-0 which, gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the series. Phillies’ star Bryce Harper kickstarted the offense by homering in the first inning, followed by home runs from Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, Kyle Schwarber, and Rhys Hoskins.

But Game 4 featured even more history, as the Astros’ pitching staff threw a combined no-hitter in a 5-0 win. Astros starting pitcher Christian Javier pitched the first six innings, surrendering just two walks, while striking out nine batters. Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero came out of the bullpen in the seventh and eighth inning to continue the no-hitter while closer Ryan Pressly finished it in the ninth.

It was just the third no-hitter in MLB postseason history and only the second in World Series history (Don Larsen threw a perfect game for the Yankeesin Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers).

With the series tied at 2-2 and Game 5 being the last game in Philadelphia, there was a lot on the line for both teams.

The Astros answered with a crucial 3-2 win, aided by rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña’s two RBIs: a single in the first inning and a homer in the fourth inning. Astros first baseman Trey Mancini and center fielder Chas McCormick made game-saving defensive plays late in the game.

For Gamne 6, the series went back to Houston, where all the action took place in the sixth inning.

Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber homered in the top of the sixth to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. But the Astros would take the lead right back in the bottom of the sixth with a monster three-run homer from Yordan Alvarez that traveled 450 feet to center field. This lead was capped off later in the inning by a single by catcher Christian Vasquez that scored Alex Bregman, expanding the Astros lead to 4-1.

The Astros held the lead to beat the Phillies with a 4-2 series win, winning their second World Series title – the first since the cheating scandal. Dusty Baker secured his first World Series as a manager after 3,884 games and 2,093 wins, the most by a manager without winning a World Series. 

Mancini, traded to Houston from the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the season, completed quite the comeback story after being diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago. Mancini was not sure if he step on the field again, or even if he would live. Now, he’s a World Series Champion.