The Houston Astros proved that their 2017 cheating scandal lurking in the background doesn’t phase them, as they now advance to their third World Series in five seasons.
The Astros beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-0, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Friday, winning the series four games to two. Houston’s Kyle Tucker hit an opposite-field, three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Astros a 5-0 lead that they wouldn’t lose.
The Astros now move on to play the champions of the National League, either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves. The Braves lead that series, 3-2, with Game 6 to be Saturday night in Atlanta.
Despite going down two games to one at the beginning of the ALCS, the Astros came back with a vengeance, dominating Games 4 and 5—scoring nine runs in each—before winning Game 6. Since the eighth inning of Game 4, Houston outscored Boston, 22-1, over the next 19 innings.
Houston will have home-field advantage if they end up playing the Braves as they would have a better regular-season record. However, they will start the World Series on the road if they face the Dodgers, as Los Angeles would have the better season record.
There is still controversy surrounding the Astros, though, as fallout remains from their 2017 season.
While the Astros won their first World Series in franchise history that year, the team was soon after marred by a scandal that revealed they had cheated for the majority of the season.
Ironically, the team they faced in that World Series in 2017 was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will get a chance for revenge if they end up winning the National League pennant. Given the cheating scandal, there will likely be some bad blood between the two clubs.
A 2019 article in The Athletic first revealed how Houston set up hidden cameras in the outfield, and would bang on trash cans to signal to their batter what type of pitch was coming. After a long investigation, the Astros’ manager and general manager were suspended from baseball and later fired by the club.
The Athletic also revealed that the team did not stop cheating after the 2017 World Series, but also used this tactic during a portion of the 2018 season as well.
Many fans and even other ballplayers criticized the Astros organization in the years following the scandal. The team is often still heavily booed in visiting stadiums.
Numerous Astros players were also hit by pitches in 2020, so much that a compilation video was even uploaded to YouTube.
Despite the scandal, though, the Astros have remained one of the most dominant teams in baseball over the past few seasons. Houston won 103 and 107 games in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
2021 was their fifth consecutive year reaching the ALCS. They also made it back to the World Series in 2019, although they lost in seven games to the Washington Nationals.
The Astros’ attempt to win the 2021 World Series marks the team’s fourth overall appearance in the Fall Classic.
In addition to 2017 and 2019, Houston also played in the big dance in 2005 as members of the National League, where they were swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox.
Newsweek has contacted the Houston Astros’ public relations department for comment.