MLB playoffs 2021

MLB playoffs 2021: Astros reach fifth straight ALCS, face Red Sox

The Houston Astros thrashed the Chicago White Sox in a rain-delayed game to move through to the ALCS for the fifth consecutive season on Tuesday.

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MLB playoffs 2021: Love, greatness and bitterness as Astros reach fifth straight ALCS

Dusty Baker explained how "love" is the secret to public enemy number one the Houston Astros' success after they advanced to their fifth consecutive American League Championship Series (ALCS).

The Astros stormed through to the ALCS thanks to Tuesday's 10-1 rout of the Chicago White Sox – Houston becoming the third team ever to appear in five successive league championship series and the first to do so since the Atlanta Braves featured in eight straight from 1991 to 1999.

Houston have not been popular among opposition teams and fans after the Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams en route to winning the MLB World Series three years ago, as well as for part of the 2018 campaign.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by Houston in January after they were initially suspended for the entire 2020 campaign by the league.

Amid the backlash, the Astros have continued to perform and manager Baker hailed Houston, who will face the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.

Baker: "We've been constantly bombarded by negatives"

"They've been doing that really since last year," Baker told reporters. "And then it was accentuated this year even more. I don't know if they feed off it necessarily, but we've been constantly bombarded by negatives, you know, especially on the road.

"But these guys, they came in – they come to play, and they love each other. And I remember talking to Bill Russell years ago, a few years ago, and I asked him, man, how did you win all those championships in Boston, and he told me, you know – I thought he was going to say Red Auerbach, you know lot of hard work, but he told me that they loved each other, and they love each other.

"Love can take you to heights you never thought you could get to. And they feed off of each other and pull for each other on a daily basis. And one guy falls down, and the next guy, you know, picks him up. And, boy, this was a heck of a series. It was a downer night before last whenever we played when we got beat pretty badly, but on a daily basis, they don't take one day into the next unless it was good. You know, I love this team, and the city loves them, and that's what counts."

Astros star Carlos Correa tied Albert Pujols for the most playoff RBIs among active players after reaching 54 on Tuesday.

Houston team-mate Jose Altuve also hit his 19th postseason homer – matching George Springer and future Hall of Famer Pujols for fourth all-time.

Baker hailed Correa, saying: "Carlos has been one of the greatest big game players in the history of the Astros and even the history of the game, and I don't hear him talking about it.

"He just wants to play for his team-mates and wants to win. You know, when you win, that puts pressure on the organisation to maybe do something in the future, and this is his home. I've heard him say that many, many times. You know, he grew up in this organisation and grew up in the city of Houston.

"Just like I was talking to him just like me, I grew up with the Braves as a kid, and then you grow into a man, you realise that business is business, but you still got to play with the enthusiasm of a kid, and you play for your teammates, and hopefully that transcends to something good for us in the future."