HOUSTON – José Altuve was emphatic when asked what Carlos Correa means to the Astros after his key hit Thursday.
“We are here thanks to him,” said the Venezuelan midfielder.
Correa hit 25 homers this season, the most of his life, with a three-run drive that guided Houston to the AL West coronation Thursday, thanks to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles. Tampa Bay Rays.
It is the fourth division title won by the Astros in the past five seasons. In total, Houston has 10 divisional pennants in history.
“That sounds like something quite special,” said the Puerto Rican Correa.
The Astros will make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, extending a franchise record.
“They are used to winning. We hate losing and now the fun is going to begin,” said driver Dusty Baker.
Baker’s team will open the AL Division Series on October 7 against the Chicago White Sox. It is not yet defined who will have the home advantage for that series to the best in a maximum of five games.
With his big hit in the fourth inning, Correa allowed the Astros to end a streak in which they had lost five of six games.
And the celebration began at Minute Maid Park.
Orbit, the Astros mascot, entered the field with a large orange flag commemorating the divisional scepter. The players screamed and hugged after the last out.
Tampa Bay, which has already secured No. 1 on the Young Circuit for the playoffs, put runners in first and second, with no outs in the ninth inning, but did not score.
Rays rookie Wander Franco went 4-0 to see his 43-game hitting streak snapped. With that run, he had tied the longest of its kind in major league history by a player 20 or younger.
Frank Robinson had accomplished the feat in 1956.
Lance McCullers (13-5) took the win and Ryan Yarbrough (9-7) was the loser.
For the Rays, Cubans Randy Arozarena 3-1, Yandy Díaz 1-0. The Dominicans Franco 4-0, Nelson Cruz 4-0, Manuel Margot 3-0.
For the Astros, Venezuelan José Altuve 4-0. The Cubans Yordan Álvarez 4-2, Yuli Gurriel 4-1 with a scored. The Puerto Ricans Correa 3-1 with one scored and three RBIs, Martín Maldonado 3-1.