'They know not to panic' - Baker hails history-making Astros after 18-inning epic to sweep Mariners

By Sports Desk October 16, 2022

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker hailed his side for never panicking as they edged an 18-inning epic after Jeremy Pena's homer to sweep the ALCS with a 1-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.

The game was only the fourth 18-inning game in MLB postseason history, and the first in postseason history to go scoreless through 17 innings. It officially lasted six hours and 22 minutes.

The Astros made their own history with the series-sweeping victory, becoming the first team in the MLB to win a playoff series in six straight seasons. Houston also reached the ALCS for a record sixth consecutive time.

That would not have been possible if not for 25-year-old shortstop Pena's 18th-inning solo shot over deep left-center field off a Penn Murfee 3-2 fastball, before Luis Garcia closed it out earning praise from Baker.

"This is some team," Baker told reporters. "These guys they grind and grind and grind. And sooner or later we broke through.

"These guys, they know not to panic. They don't get too excited. They don't get too down. It means a lot."

The Astros have endured plenty over the past few years in light of the sign stealing scandal, before a period of success under Baker since taking over in January 2020.

Houston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS in 2020, before losing the World Series to the Atlanta Braves in 2021. Baker said their sustained success was all about "excellence".

"Once you've been through it and go through it again and again and again, you expect excellence," he said. "That's what this team expects out of itself."

"We didn’t know who the hero was going to be tonight. We were hoping we'd have somebody and we had somebody in Pena. This whole series it's been different guys. Our pitching staff and our bullpen did a heck of a job during this whole series."

The defeat ended a wild ride for the Mariners, who reached the postseason for the first time in 21 years, and were cheered by their fans at T-Mobile Park after the game despite the defeat.

"We were right there," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "You look at the whole series it really comes down to three swings of the bat.

"I thought our pitching was just off the chart, starting with George Kirby. To fire him out in a must-win game and get seven shutout innings from a rookie, you can't ask for anymore. Great experience.

"The number of young players that played huge roles for us in this series is going to benefit us immensely going forward."

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