HOUSTON -- The Astros capped a remarkable season by winning their first World Series last Wednesday, beating the Dodgers in a tremendous seven-game series to give the franchise its first championship in 56 years of existence.
Despite losing their entire starting rotation to injury at one point -- and later losing All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa for two months -- the Astros roared to the American League West title and won 101 games, one shy of the franchise record. They acquired Justin Verlander in late August and got everyone healthy in September, and then they charged through the postseason, taking out the Red Sox in four games in the AL Division Series and the Yankees in seven games in the AL Championship Series before toppling the Dodgers in the Fall Classic.
• Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear
The Astros, who had six All-Stars, featured an explosive offense that led the Majors in runs, hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage while striking out fewer times than any other club. Houston was 53-28 on the road, 50-26 against the AL West and 15-5 in Interleague Play, and it finished the regular season by winning 14 of 17 games.
Here are five things worth remembering from the 2017 season:
1. In Game 5 of the World Series, the Astros trailed, 4-0, with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound, but they got game-tying homers from Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve and Willie Mays Most Valuable Player Award winner George Springer to tie the game at 8. After giving up a 12-9 lead in the ninth, Houston got a dramatic walk-off win, 13-12, when Alex Bregman's single scored pinch-runner Derek Fisher from second base, giving it a 3-2 series lead heading to Los Angeles for Games 6 and 7.
- The performance of Charlie Morton. Some scoffed when the Astros signed the often-injured veteran to a two-year, $14 million contract, but he started and won Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees and pitched the final four innings in relief to win Game 7 of the World Series against the Dodgers. He sent down the final nine batters he faced to lock down Game 7 for Houston.
- After the Dodgers won Game 1 of the World Series, 3-1, they were three outs from taking control of the Series when they entered the ninth inning of Game 2 with a 3-2 lead (the Dodgers were 98-0 in 2017 to that point when leading after eight innings). The Series changed when Marwin Gonzalez led off the ninth with a game-tying homer off Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen, who had a postseason streak of 12 consecutive converted saves snapped. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit back-to-back homers in the 10th to give Houston a 5-3 lead, and -- after the Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the 10th -- Springer won it with a two-run homer in the 11th -- one of five World Series homers he hit.
- Altuve continued to cement his status as one of the game's top hitters by winning his third AL batting title, hitting .346 with 24 homers, 81 RBIs and 32 stolen bases en route to becoming an AL MVP Award finalist. He became the first player to lead the AL in hits outright in four consecutive seasons and was the fourth right-handed hitter in history to reach 200 hits in four consecutive seasons. Altuve hit seven home runs in the postseason and drove in 16 runs in 18 games across the ALDS, ALCS and World Series.
- The Astros were on the road in Anaheim in late August when Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas, dumping 51 inches of rain in parts of Houston. The storm caused massive flooding and dozens of deaths, and it forced the Astros to move a series against the Texas Rangers to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg from Minute Maid Park. The Astros, wearing a patch with the word "Strong" on their chests, were able to return home for a series against the Mets in early September, and they swept three games at Minute Park to provide a boost for the city. That started a strong finishing kick in which the Astros went 21-8 in September to won their first AL West title.