A ninth inning with dueling home runs sent the Astros to the World Series and a matchup with the Nationals. The Yankees came back Saturday night in Houston to tie the Astros with a homer by D.J. LeMahieu in a 10-pitch at-bat, Deadspin reports. Jose Altuve launched a walk-off celebration in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out, 407-foot home run. The 6-4 ALCS victory means the Astros will face the Nationals starting Tuesday in Houston; the Nationals swept the Cardinals in the NLCS. The Astros are shooting for their second title in three years, while the Nationals—formerly the Montreal Expos—will be in the World Series for the first time. In a season known for home runs, per the AP, the series will include a list of dominant pitchers that includes Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, and Gerrit Cole.
The Yankees took the loss hard. "No matter how many games we won in the regular season or what else we did, the season's a failure," outfielder Aaron Judge said. The Yankees have now played an entire decade without making it to the World Series, for the first time since the 1910s, per the AP. In the past decade, per the Wall Street Journal, the Yankees spent more than $2 billion on players' salaries, more than any other team. They won 921 games, more than anybody else, and have made it to the playoffs more often than any other team. But they haven't added to their total of 21 World Series titles. The standards have been so high that when the team lost the 1981 World Series, owner George Steinbrenner issued a statement that began, "I want to sincerely apologize to the people of New York." On Saturday night, the team told fans in a tweet that "it hurts to be going home." (Read more Major League Baseball stories.)