Combining luck and skill
Astros manager Dusty Baker wears No. 12 in the dugout, and the number carries some extra significance this postseason. This is Baker’s 12th trip as a manager to the postseason, including his third in Houston. So far, he is 0-11 as a manager trying to lead his team to a World Series title.
“It doesn’t weigh on me,” Baker said about still striving to win a title as a manager. “I feel very fortunate to have been here for the 12th time. 12’s my lucky number, since I was a little kid, so I look forward to it. It doesn’t weigh on me at all. I’ve done the best that I could do to this point, and that’s really all that you can do. Like I said, it’s a joy to be back here in postseason.”
With 12 being his lucky number, maybe a lucky streak has already started this postseason for Baker and the Astros with the walkoff blast from Alvarez. But there’s more than luck involved with what Baker’s team pulled off in the late stages of the game.
There were some big decisions by Baker even before Alvarez connected on that fateful pitch. Inserting David Hensley into the game in the ninth and the pinch-hitter drawing a walk to start the one-out rally. Telling his young players to “relax, concentrate, be determined, but stay alert as much as anything, and follow the guys that have been here,” as Baker said before the game, with that advice likely playing a role in the calm at-bats from Hensley and Peña, a pair of rookies who reached base before Alvarez’s blast.
“At the end there, the at-bats that the youngsters had, Hensley, and then Peña with two strikes to get a hit to set it up for Yordan,” Baker said. “We just wanted to get it to Yordan and maybe even (Alex) Bregman and past them. We know if we got it to those guys, we had a chance to win.”
Call it a combination of luck and skill that paid off in one of the most memorable games in Houston postseason history.