Alvarez Wins ALCS MVP, Astros to World Series

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The Astros eliminated the Red Sox with a 5-0 victory on Friday behind an excellent start from Luis Garcia and a red-hot Yordan Alvarez to advance to the World Series. The 24-year-old right-hander shined on the mound, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings with just one hit and one walk allowed.

Garcia struck Kyle Schwarber out to start the game, but Schwarber would reach first base on a wild pitch. Jose Altuve then made an incredible play on a hard ground ball by Enrique Hernandez to prevent the Red Sox from starting with runners on the corners and no outs. Garcia would settle in, allowing one walk in the second inning before taking a no-hitter into the sixth. With two outs, Hernandez hit a 99.3 mile per hour triple off the left-field wall that fell just a few feet short of tying the game. It was the first hit allowed by Garcia in his dominant outing. The triple would end his day while Phil Maton recorded the final out in the sixth. Garcia tossed 52-of-76 pitches for strikes while generating an incredible 18 whiffs to strike out seven batters. Nothing like a Game 6 start in front of the home crowd to get the adrenaline going. Garcia was averaging 96 miles per hour on the fastball, nearly three ticks over his season average.

On the other side, Nathan Eovaldi did his best to keep the Red Sox in this one, making the Game 6 start after throwing 24 pitches in relief in Game 4. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed a base hit to Alex Bregman in the first inning before Alvarez drove in the first run of the game with a sharp double to center field. Eovaldi miraculously got out of trouble in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third and no outs, he struck out three batters to hold Houston to the one run. After Martin Maldonado led off the fifth with a single, Eovaldi struck out Altuve before Josh Taylor took over for the final two outs.

Taylor remained in the game for the sixth to face Alvarez, who tripled to lead off the inning for his third extra-base hit of the day. Tanner Houck replaced Taylor and hit Carlos Correa to put runners on the corners with no outs. A groundball by Kyle Tucker would get two outs and a run across the plate for the Astros.

Boston's best chance to score would come in the seventh inning. With Kendall Graveman on the mound, J.D. Martinez drew a walk with one out before Alex Verdugo singled to put runners on first and third. At a pivotal moment in the game, Travis Shaw struck out swinging while Maldonado fired a laser to Carlos Correa to nab Verdugo for a double-play as he attempted to steal second base.

Tucker would put the bow on this one in the eighth. He took Adam Ottavino deep for a three-run homer, giving Houston a five-run lead going into the ninth. Ryan Pressly would close it out, needing just nine pitches to finish the game and send the Astros to the World Series.

Alvarez would take home ALCS MVP honors after an incredible display at the plate over the final two games. The 24-year-old slugger had seven hits between Game 5 and 6, two more than the Red Sox as a team. He's now hitting .441 with a 1.329 OPS and two home runs over 34 postseason at-bats.

It's no secret that the Astros have been baseball's villain over the last two seasons following the cheating scandal. But if there's one redeeming member of this team, it's manager Dusty Baker. He returns to the World Series nearly 20 years after taking the 2002 Giants -- losing to the Angels in seven games. Baker joins some elite company in becoming the ninth manager in history to win the pennant in both the American League and the National League. His first words after the game, with a big smile on his face, "Hey, I'm going back to the World Series!" Yes, you are, Dusty.

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The Astros await their opponent as the Braves lead the Dodgers three games to two in the NLCS. The two teams will face off for Game 6 in Atlanta on Saturday. Taking the mound for the Braves will be 23-year-old right-hander Ian Anderson. Max Scherzer was expected to start for Los Angeles but was scratched on Friday due to arm fatigue. The 37-year-old right-hander could be available to start a potential Game 7. Meanwhile, the Dodgers may need to go with another bullpen game or pitch Walker Buehler on short rest. Either way, the Dodgers have proven that you can't count them out. Can Atlanta advance to their first World Series since 1999, or will Los Angeles force a Game 7?

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