The Astros are back in the World Series for the first time since 2005, the year they were swept by the White Sox.
The Astros are one of eight teams never to win a World Series, a list that has the Nationals, Mariners, Brewers, Padres, Rangers, Rays and Rockies. The Nationals and Mariners are the only teams that haven’t appeared in a World Series.
The Astros’ championship drought covers 55 years, currently the third-longest. The Astros started as the Colt .45s in 1962 and had that nickname through the 1964 season.
Sports Illustrated is known for jinxing potential championship teams by putting them on the cover of the magazine before they win. And while SI earlier this year said that the Dodgers are the best team ever, the magazine also picked the Astros to win the 2017 World Series - in a cover story in June 2014. So far, the prediction is holding.
The Astros and Dodgers tied for the 1980 NL West title, and then the Astros beat the Dodgers 7-1 in a one-game tiebreaker. Joe Niekro won his 20th game and allowed one unearned run against a lineup that had former Nationals manager Dusty Baker hitting third and former Nationals coach Davey Lopes batting leadoff.
Now the Astros and Dodgers play in a World Series of 100-win teams for the first time since 1970, when the 108-win Orioles beat the 102-win Reds.
Here’s what you need to know about the Astros, who wrapped up the American League pennant with a 4-0 win against the Yankees:
* The Astros won all four games in the American League Championship Series at home. It’s the fifth time in postseason history the home team has won all the games in a series. The others are the Reds over the Astros in the 2005 National League Championship Series; the Diamondbacks over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series; and the Twins over the Cardinals (1987) and Atlanta (1991) in the World Series.
* The Astros won 101 games and the AL Central by 21 games, becoming the first team to win division titles in three different divisions. They won the NL West in 1980 and 1986 and the NL Central in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
* The 2013 Astros hit rock bottom, losing 111 games. The only players remaining from that team are Jose Altuve, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock.
* The Astros’ world revolved around 5-foot-6 second baseman Jose Altuve, 27, who is a candidate to win the AL MVP this season. He’s won three batting titles, two stolen base titles and led the league in hits for four consecutive seasons. In Game 7 of the ALCS, he made two fantastic defensive plays and hit his fifth postseason home run. Altuve, from Venezuela, attended a tryout camp, but the Astros had no interest because they thought he was too short. Altuve’s dad encouraged him to return to the same camp a year later. He did and the Astros wound up signing him for $15,000.
* Where would the Astros be without ALCS MVP pitcher Justin Verlander, the Astros’ Game 2 starter? He’s pitched in nine games since coming in a trade from Detroit, and the Astros have won all nine. He pitched a complete-game ALCS win in Game 2 and seven shutout innings in Game 6 against the Yankees with a combined 21 strikeouts in 16 innings and a 0.56 ERA. ... Verlander has been in two World Series and has not pitched well. In 2006, he gave up 10 runs in 11 innings in two starts against St. Louis. In 2012, he allowed five runs in four innings against San Francisco.
* The Astros had five All-Stars this season: Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel. ... The Astros had a Springer on the 2005 World Series team, pitcher Russ Springer.
* Astros shortstop Correa has five home runs this postseason, becoming the fifth player to have that many home runs in a postseason before turning 24. The others are the Rays’ Evan Longoria, the Braves’ Andruw Jones, the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber and the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle.
* The 2005 Astros won the division with an 89-75 record. Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was the leadoff batter. Lance Berkman hit .293. Morgan Ensberg hit 36 home runs with 101 RBIs. Roy Oswalt had 20 wins to lead the rotation, while Houston natives Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were in the rotation.
* The Astros celebrated their second pennant at home with a Game 7 win over the Yankees. In 2005, they were about to celebrate winning the NL pennant at home, but the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols hit a monster home run off Brad Lidge in Game 5 and the Astros had to win Game 6 in St. Louis before spraying champagne.
* The Astros were swept by the White Sox in the 2005 World Series, but each game was decided by two runs or fewer.