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UMaine alum Jeremy Peña named World Series MVP as Astros win second title

There was pandemonium at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas on Saturday as the hometown Houston Astros put the finishing touches on a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies to win their second World Series title. 

A three-RBI performance by Houston left-fielder Yordan Alvarez, paired with a brilliant nine-strikeout start from starting pitcher Framber Valdez, propelled the Astros to become the first team to clinch the World Series at home since the 2013 Boston Red Sox. 

Jeremy Peña, a graduate of the University of Maine, continued his postseason of historic feats when he was named World Series MVP. He is the first player to win both ALCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same year. Peña, at 25, is also the youngest ever to win the World Series MVP. These playoff accolades come on top of him being awarded the Gold Glove for American League shortstops this year. He is the first rookie to win the award at shortstop. 

The Astros certainly would have struggled without Peña, whose postseason OPS was an outlandish 1.005. On top of the four home runs he hit, Peña accumulated 12 runs this postseason, acting as a highly effective plate-setter for big bats like Alvarez and third baseman Alex Bregman. 

It was a tough 4-2 series defeat for the Philadelphia Phillies, who were getting their first taste of postseason action since 2011. They had made somewhat of a Cinderella run to beat the favorites in the National League but couldn’t stand up to the Astros, who had been among the top picks to win the title all year having finished with the American League’s best record. 

The series-clinching game was a pitching matchup between Houston’s Valdez and Philadelphia’s ace Zach Wheeler, who finished with a 2.78 postseason ERA. The game was scoreless into the sixth, when Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber hit a 395-foot blast to right field, his sixth of the postseason. 

Alvarez took the lead for Houston in the bottom half of the inning with a towering three-run home run to center field, 450 feet away. This made him the only player in postseason history to hit multiple go-ahead home runs in the sixth inning or later with his team behind. He hit three this postseason. 

Catcher Christian Vasquez tacked on an RBI single in the frame before the scoring stopped for good. Vasquez is a familiar name to New England fans, as Houston acquired him from the Red Sox at this year’s trade deadline. 

Houston’s bullpen combined for three scoreless innings of relief, with three strikeouts, no walks and one hit allowed to tuck the Phillies into bed. After the Alvarez home run the fire appeared to be taken out from under the Philadelphia offense, and the last innings were just a formality from there. 

This closes the book on another season of MLB baseball, and soon the focus will shift to the season ahead. Can the Red Sox make another worst-to-first effort? We’ll be monitoring their offseason very closely.

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