A primer on the Astros, Nationals’ opponent in World Series

The Astros will play in their third World Series, and their second in three years, when the Fall Classic opens Tuesday night in Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

The Astros won 107 games and are champions of the American League West. They beat Tampa Bay in a five-game American League Division Series and then beat the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, just as they did in 2017.

It’s well documented that Washington is playing in the World Series for the first time since 1933 and trying to win its first title since 1924.

The Astros were swept by the White Sox in the 2005 World Series and beat the Dodgers for the title in 2017. The 2005 Astros team brought the World Series to Texas for the first time in baseball history.

That 2005 team, with Roy Oswalt and Houston natives Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte leading the rotation, was much like this season’s Nationals in that they started 18-32 and finished with 89 wins, making the postseason as a wild card team.

The Astros are four wins away from becoming the first team since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals to win at least 100 games in three consecutive seasons with at least two World Series championships during that time.

Here’s everything you could possibly need to know about the Astros - from their infamous rainbow uniforms to retired numbers and ballpark history.

* The Astros’ most recognizable player is second baseman Jose Altuve, 29, whose height is 5-foot-6. He hit the walk-off home run in the 6-4 Game 6 win to give the Astros the AL pennant. He grew up in Venezuela and was frustrated that he couldn’t get a realistic tryout because of his size. Finally, he got one after his dad begged a scout to give his son a chance. Altuve signed at 16 for $15,000 and wound up winning the AL MVP in 2017 and the ALCS MVP this year. He’s the Astros’ longest-tenured player.

* Believe it or not, Astros pitcher Justin Verlander wasn’t sure he wanted to move to Houston. On Aug. 31, 2017, the Astros worked out a trade with Detroit for Verlander, who had to approve before the deal was complete. He decided to accept less than a minute before the deadline. If he stayed with the Tigers, he would have had to endure losing. The Tigers lost 98 games in 2017 while the Astros won the World Series. Detroit also lost 98 games in 2018 and 114 this season.

* The Astros will pitch Gerrit Cole in Game 1 of the World Series, followed by Verlander in the second game and Zack Greinke in Game 3 in Washington. Cole was scheduled to pitch Game 7 of the AL Championship Series Sunday, but the Astros clinched in six. Cole was 16-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his final 22 starts of the regular season.

* There will be no DH when the series starts in Washington. Greinke will bat in D.C., and he’s the Astros’ best-hitting pitcher with a .225 career average and eight home runs in nine NL seasons. Cole hit .174 with three home runs in his five NL seasons with Pittsburgh. Verlander has never played in the National League.

* The Astros this season are the first team in history to have a pitching staff leading the league in strikeouts (1,671) and a lineup that had the league’s fewest strikeouts (1,116). Cole led the Astros with 326 strikeouts and Verlander had 300. In the lineup, Altuve struck out 82 times in 550 at-bats. Yuli Gurriel had 65 strikeouts in 554 at-bats and Alex Bregman, a candidate for AL MVP, 83 in 554 at-bats. (Bregman, by the way, led the Astros with 41 home runs.)

* The Astros’ manager is A.J. Hinch, a former catcher who hit 32 home runs playing for Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit and Philadelphia. He has a degree in psychology from Stanford and was on the the U.S. baseball team that won the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

* The Astros had AL bests for team average (.274) and OPS (.848). They finished third in the league in runs (920), third in home runs (288) and eighth in stolen bases (67).

* The Astros started out as a National League team in 1962 and were first known as the Colt .45s. They changed their name in 1965 when they moved into the Astrodome, which was billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The Astros name was picked to honor the U.S. space program headquartered in Houston at about the time the NASA’s Gemini program launched. In the early years, the Astros grounds crew dressed as astronauts, complete with space helmets, while working the Astrodome surface.

* The Astros went a major league-best 60-21 at home this season. The Astros are 15-5 in Houston during the postseason. “We still have home field for the World Series,” Hinch said. “It’s why we worked our tail off to get as many wins as we could.”

* The Astros moved to the American League in 2013 to give balance so that each league would have three divisions of five teams each. Since 1998, when Arizona and Tampa Bay established expansion teams, the AL had one four-team division and the NL had one six-team division. The Astros moving to the AL created a natural Texas rivalry with the Rangers.

* The Astros’ worst game of the season came Sept. 10 when they lost 21-7 to the Athletics. Former National Tanner Roark was the winning pitcher. Former Oriole Wade Miley took the loss.

* The Astros’ longest winning streak was 10 games, their longest losing streak seven. They had eight walk-off wins and five walk-off losses.

* The Astros took over first place in the AL West on April 16.

* The Astros had three consecutive seasons of triple-digit losses, with 106 in 2013, 107 in 2012 and 111 in 2011. This should be good news for the Orioles because their team architect, Mike Elias, helped rebuild the Astros before he took over the rebuilding job with the Orioles.

* The Astros are the only team in baseball history to make the World Series representing each league. The 2005 Astros were an NL team. One team that has come close to doing that is the Brewers, who represented the AL in the 1982 World Series and made the postseason four times as a member of the NL.

* Bregman has seven postseason home runs, all against All-Star pitchers: He’s hit two against Chris Sale and once each against Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell.

* At 25, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is the youngest player in history to have at least 30 postseason RBIs.

* The Astros’ home field is named Minute Maid Park - capacity is 40,976 - and has a retractable roof. The roof takes anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes to open or close and goes back and forth approximately 160 times a year, covering 14.6 miles.

* Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000, has defining characteristics including an 800-foot-long, cream-colored wall in the outfield that is carved with arches. The dimensions: left field 315 feet, left-center 362, center 409, right-center 373 and right field 326. The outfield wall height varies from seven feet in right field to 10 in center and 25 in left-center.

* The ballpark’s original name was Enron Field, but when the energy company went bankrupt because of a financial scandal the Astros took a public relations hit and wanted to take the name away from the field. Enron initially refused but finally gave up the name after a court decision.

* Minute Maid is known for long games. On Oct. 9, 2005, the park hosted one of the longest postseason games in major league history when the Astros defeated the Braves 7-6 in 18 innings. The game took 5 hours, 50 minutes. A World Series game in 2005 against the White Sox went 14 innings and lasted 5:41. The White Sox won 7-5.

* From 1975 through 1986, the Astros quite possibly had the most polarizing uniforms in history. Often referred to as “rainbows,” the unis had bright yellow, orange and red stripes with a big black star slapped on the chest and “ASTROS” in sold black block letters across the front. The uniforms were to represent a Texas sunset. Baseball fans were divided: Some called them bold and grand, others the ugliest ever.

* Hall of Famer Craig Biggio holds the team record for playing 20 seasons with the Astros. He finished his career with 3,060 career hits, one of 27 players to have at least 3,000 hits in his career. Lance Berkman’s .302 career batting average is the highest for an Astro, while Roy Oswalt’s .668 winning percentage as a pitcher is the highest in team history.

* Biggio’s No. 7 has been retired by the Astros. Also, the team has retired Jeff Bagwell (No. 5), Jimmy Wynn (24), José Cruz (25), Jim Umbricht (23), Mike Scott (33), Nolan Ryan (34), Don Wilson (40), Jackie Robinson (42) and Larry Dierker (49).