NEW YORK -- The dream died somewhere around the fifth inning at Foley's NY Pub on Saturday night, but the hope never faltered. The pack of Yankees fans that crowded New York's premier baseball bar for the first Game 7 the city has seen in 13 years, remained thick as Evan Gattis, then Jose Altuve, then Brian McCann sent the idea of a Big Apple World Series fading into the night.
Their brows furrowed, their hands wringing nervously, the crowd that witnessed the Yanks' season end with a 4-0 loss to the Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World, remained until the final out. Greg Bird skied a curveball out to George Springer, and those gathered uttered a collective groan. Then they left, balancing disappointment with a hopeful sense that this surprise of a season is a sign of things to come.
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"This is the beginning of something," Foley's owner Shaun Clancy said. "This is a young team. If you are a Yankees fan now, you're excited. This could be similar to 1995, that heartbreaker of a game against Seattle. The next year they went to the World Series."
It would be tough to find a more festive place for New York baseball fans to take in a game of this magnitude than Foley's, the Irish pub that routinely ranks among America's best baseball bars. Thousands of pieces of memorabilia line the walls, from bobbleheads to scorecards to more than 3,500 signed baseballs. Foley's -- decorated with endless waves of autographs, framed photos and back pages -- resembles a full block in downtown Cooperstown squeezed into midtown Manhattan's steely scene.
The bar is home to the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame, the pinstriped honorees of which include Paul O'Neill, Brian Cashman and Casey Stengel.
On Saturday, the menu offered timely remixes, like the Aaron Hicks Burger and Player Page for David Robertson's Chicken Pot Pie.
"This is our time of the year," Clancy said. "But of course, it's a little bit more special when the Yankees are in the playoffs. The city has a buzz. People that aren't baseball fans, everybody kind of becomes a Yankees fan."
The night began in nervous anticipation. Fans flooded Foley's hoping to witness what few thought possible when this baseball season started: the Yanks reaching the World Series. News crews followed, hoping to document a celebration.
There were celebratory moments. Fists shot into the air when Aaron Judge leaped to rob Yuli Gurriel of a potential home run in the second inning, and the bar let out its first collective cheer.
"That's the second time he's saved us," someone said, referencing Judge's home run-robbing catch in the AL Division Series presented by Doosan, against the Indians.
The fans again appreciated when the Yankees escaped jams in the third, cheering loudly enough to shake some of the signed baseballs in their glass frames.
When the fourth inning brought the game's first run, courtesy of Gattis' solo homer off Yanks starter Carsten Sabathia. Back in New York, the faithful remained optimistic.
"It's still early," bar manager Morgan McCann assured.
That run wound up being the only one Houston needed. The Astros tacked on, and the Yankees managed just three hits off of starter Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers The fight the Yanks showed time and time again this season never arrived.
"I don't know what happened tonight. They didn't play like they played this week in New York," said Oscar Garcia, a fan who traveled from New Jersey. "I'm upset, but at the same time, I'm happy they made it to this point."
"This season was a very pleasant surprise," said Dan Schneider, of Manhattan, who has been a Yankees fan since 1961. "Nobody expected them to be even a .500 team, and even the fact that they made the playoffs, it was a very pleasant surprise. As a fan, I'm very encouraged for the next few years.
"It was fun," Schnieder added. "But it could have been more fun."