Saturday’s Game 6 appeared to be a battle of which closer can cause the most damage to his team.


As usual, whenever a big game loomed and Houston Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch summoned his ace closer Roberto Osuna from the bullpen to save the important game, the reliever fell flat on his face and pitched as if it were batting practice.


That mishap occurred last Wednesday after fire-balling Gerrit Cole had pitched seven scoreless innings against the New York Yankees and left the game with a slender 3-0 lead. The eighth inning was a breeze for reliever Josh James, who set the pin-stripers down in order. The Astros scored a lone run in the bottom of the eighth upping the score to 4-0.


Osuna was ready to put the game on ice like he has done on 39 occasions this year, so another save would be as easy as rolling off a log.


But the Yankees had different ideas and banged out a couple of solid base hits interspersed by a ground out and a four-pitch walk.


After the Yankees scored a run and had the bases loaded, Hinch had seen enough and called on Will Harris from the bullpen, who calmly got the final two outs on nine pitches, preserving the victory for Cole.


As if Hinch didn’t learn his lesson, he once again called on Osuna Saturday
to pitch the ninth inning and preserve the 4-2 lead that would send the Astros to the World Series.


The first batter, Gio Urshela, ripped a single to left. Osuna struck out Brett
Gardner. Yankees’ leadoff hitter D.J. LeMahieu, who lead the American League in hitting during most of the season, kept fouling off Osuna’s strikeout pitches and worked the count to 3-2.


Osuna’s 10th pitch resulted in a line-drive smacked into the right-field stands as the overflow crowd at Minute Maid Park became eerily hushed. Osuna got the next two batters and the Astros came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at 4-4.


Not to be outdone, Yankee ace closer Aroldis Chapman came in to try and send the game into extra innings. He got two quick outs before George Springer legged out an infield single to keep the inning alive for fan favorite Jose Altuve.


Chapman, who in his younger days threw a pitch that was clocked at 105 miles per hour, reared back and threw a high, hard one that Altuve crushed and then watched as it landed over the fence in left-center field giving the Houston Astros a 6-4 victory and punching their ticket to the 2019 World Series which began last night in Houston and easily earning him the ALCS Most Valuable Player. Osuna was credited with the mound victory.


Fortunately, there was no Game 7 in the ALCS, so fireballer Cole got two extra days to rest before last night’s outing against the National League champion Washington Nationals, who swept the light-hitting St. Louis Cardinals in four straight games and had several extra days off to think about the World Series, with all games beginning at 7:08 p.m. CST and will be televised by Fox.

The two teams match up fairly well with great starting pitching, with the Astros’ relievers having a huge edge. Houston starters Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke will be opposed by Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez who collectively did not allow an earned run in 21 2/3 innings and limited St. Louis to just nine hits in 73 at-bats (a .123 average).


The 31-year-old Strasburg pitched for the fourth time this post-season and earned his third win and lowered his career ERA in the playoffs to 1.10 over 41 innings.

Strasbourg is scheduled to oppose Justin Verlander tonight at Minute Maid Park.

Tomorrow is a travel day and Friday the two teams will resume the World Series in Washington with Zack Greinke on the mound for the Astros. The Nationals have not decided on their starter.

The Astro’s pitchers will have to bat for themselves at Washington as per National League rules.

The 25-man World Series roster for Washington has 18 players past their 30th birthday, 13 who were 32 or older and six older than 35 including 42-year-old Fernando Rodney, who is the oldest player in the major leagues by three years.


The NLCS Most Valuable Player was Howie Kendrick, 36, who over the past
three years has the highest batting average (.325) in the majors, comparable to Houston’s 29-year-old MVP Jose Altuve.
The last team in Washington to reach the World Series was the 1933 Washington Senators.


KWICKIES…The Houston Texans’ defense was so pathetic Sunday at
Indianapolis that Monday’s Chronicle graded the defensive secondary with an “F”. The Texans never led in the game but stayed within striking distance in the second half and still lost 30-23.


The other Texas NFL team—the Dallas Cowboys–did much better in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football, overpowering the Philadelphia Eagles 37-10 before their bye week.


The Texas Longhorns, who were more than a three-touchdown favorite over Kansas Saturday afternoon, escaped by the skin of their teeth by booting a field goal as time expired and winning 50-48.


Chuck Schilling, who hasn’t thrown a pitch since 2007, wants back in the game as a major league manager. Schilling says he wants to interview for the Philadelphia Phillies’ managerial vacancy after the firing of Gene Kapler and said he also is interested in the Boston Red Sox’s pitching coach opening.


Orange native Wade Phillips’ defense just got better when the Los Angeles Rams signed cornerback Jalen Ramsey last weekend. The Rams moved to 4-3 after walloping the hapless Atlanta Falcons 37-10.


JUST BETWEEN US…It’s a crying shame that local high school football fans
must consult the Saturday Houston Chronicle just to find out the Friday night final score of Orange County football teams which do not appear in Saturday newspapers in either Orange or Beaumont.