Falling into an 0-2 hole would’ve given the Houston Astros a massive uphill climb. With the ALCS turning to Yankee Stadium, the Astros needed to knock off the New York Yankees and even the series at one game apiece. Before anyone could finish a sentence to start the bottom of the 11th inning, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa launched J.A. Happ’s first pitch fastball into the right field seats, giving his club a 3-2 win and sending Minute Maid Park into a frenzy.
After four hours and 49 minutes, Correa rounded the bases with one finger pointed to the sky. To most, this echoed the excitement baseball fans witnessed just moments before. But for Correa, it was the culmination of a promise he made to 13-year-old cancer patient Jalen Garcia.
After knocking off the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, Correa and fiance Daniella Rodriguez visited Jalen Garcia at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Rodriguez attended the same Laredo high school as the 13-year-old, who is currently battling Osteosarcoma.
“Nothing else in this world is as rewarding as this,” Rodriguez wrote in an Instagram post. “As soon as I heard about Jalen being in Houston I made sure we did everything possible to meet him. You are our hero Jalen! Keep fighting we’re right behind you cheering you on.”
Aaron Judge’s two-run home run off Houston starter Justin Verlander gave New York a one-run lead in the fourth inning. In the fifth, it was a George Springer solo shot that leveled the game at 2-2. A combined 13 pitchers used from both bullpens kept the ALCS game close all the way into extra innings.
Prior to Sunday night’s game, Rodriguez posted a quote from Correa to her Instagram story that read, “Next home run I hit will be for you… When you see me pointing, I’ll be pointing at you.”
With one swing, Correa sent Houston home winners with an opposite-field pimp job, and his finger raised to the sky in honor of Jalen Garcia.
Carlos Correa’s Walk-Off Home Run
The MLB is one of those leagues where magical things happen more often than any other sport. Dee Gordon’s leadoff home run on the day his team honored Jose Fernandez comes to mind. Earlier this season, the Los Angeles Angels threw a combined no-hitter on a night where every player wore Tyler Skaggs’ No. 45 jersey.
Correa’s postseason moment adds to that mythos, and I can only imagine the scene inside MD Anderson Cancer Center as the Houston Astros and manager A.J. Hinch evened the American League Championship Series in epic fashion.