A fairytale finish. With two strikes to his name, and the Houston Astros already with two outs at the bottom of the ninth inning against the New York Yankees, a walk-off two-run home run from Jose Altuve sparked delirium inside Minute Maid Park as the Astros booked their ticket to the World Series.
Altuve's 31st home run of the year, and his fifth in the postseason, could not have come at a better time, securing a 4-2 series win over the Yankees to clinch the American League pennant.
Champions in 2017, after a seven-game epic against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Astros now face the Washington Nationals in next week's big show, with the Nationals making a first-ever appearance in the World Series.
Houston's stellar pitching line-up headlined by Justin Verlander, the 8x All-Star, will have refocused by the time Game 1 gets underway on Tuesday night, but Altuve's strike was a joyous moment - for everyone bar the Yankees.
Aaron Boone's side, who visited London earlier in the year, will have to wait for title number 28. New York hopes had been raised after DJ LeMahieu's two-run shot at the top of the ninth inning to tie the game at 4-4, but Altuve had other ideas, his drive to left-centre clinching a 6-4 victory.
siri show me pure joy in mascot form pic.twitter.com/Cww3wGNF8D— Whitney McIntosh (@WhitneyM02) October 20, 2019
"I get asked to describe Jose Altuve all the time," manager AJ Hinch said. "I think MVP is what he is." Altuve himself was even more succinct. "Beautiful game," he said.
For Boone, the inquest begins. This is the first decade in which the Yankees have failed to make a World Series appearance since the 1910s.
"I feel like we are on equal footing with them," Boone said. "Unfortunately, sports can be a little bit cruel for the team that goes home. The work never ends. And we'll continue to try and I guess close that gap."
Yuli Gurriel's three-run home run in the first inning set Houston on their way, leading 3-0 before the Yankees chipped away at the lead through Gary Sanchez and then Gio Urshela, the latter with an enormous 395 feet to right centre.
Altuve scored off an Alex Bregman hit in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it 4-2 before LeMahieu's game-tying late strike. But Altuve and the Astros would not be denied.