The Houston Astros advanced to their second-ever World Series appearance on Saturday night in a 4-0 Game 7 victory over the New York Yankees, completing a series comeback that saw them trail 3-games-to-2.
It's their first pennant since winning the NLCS in 2005 when they would later be swept by the Chicago White Sox in the Fall Classic.
Houston's unlikely starter Charlie Morton pitched the game of his life while starter-turned-reliever Lance McCullers closed the door on the Yankees' season, combining to allow just three hits while striking out 11.
AJ Hinch's decision to start Morton was a surprising one in a do-or-die Game 7 considering he was hammered by New York in Game 3 when he was tagged for seven runs in 3.2 innings.
But it was clear early on that his stuff was working, making easy work of an aggressive Yankees offense that was trying to unnerve the starter. The problem was, they weren't touching him as Morton got through the first three innings on just 28 pitches.
He and Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was 10-0 following Yankees losses this season entering Saturday night, traded zeroes for the first three innings, but Evan Gattis nearly blew the roof of Minute Maid Park in the fourth inning. Leading off the frame, Gattis launched a 2-2 offering from Sabathia, a hanging slider, high above the yellow line on the left-field wall to deliver the Astros into the lead:
Sabathia was out of the game later in the inning.
The Yankees pieced together a threat in the top of the fifth, putting runners on first and third with one out. But Alex Bregman's heads-up play cut down Greg Bird at home on a slow grounder from Todd Frazier kept New York off the board before Chase Headley grounded out to end the threat and cap off Morton's night in style.
He allowed just two hits on the night, striking out five.
The Astros picked up some insurance in the next half inning thanks to their best bat and likely American League MVP. Jose Altuve doubled Houston's lead when he cracked an opposite-field home run off Tommy Kahnle:
Kahnle fell into deeper trouble after allowing two-straight singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel and was burned for it when Brian McCann drove them both in with a double.
While a 4-0 lead is a sizable one, it wasn't safe against a Yankees team that overturned the same deficit during the Game 4.
Houston turned to McCullers, who started Game 4, to preserve that lead and he did it in spades, going the final four innings while allowing just a single hit and striking out six.
While it's a heartbreaking way to end a season, the Yankees by no means were expected to make it this far, which at the end of the day won't be much consolation to disappointed players and fans. However, it's clear that they already have the pieces needed to challenge for the World Series every year.
For now though, the Astros are off to Los Angeles to meet the Dodgers in the World Series, which begins Tuesday night.