Home USA News Astros rookie star Peña wins another World Series

Astros rookie star Peña wins another World Series

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jeremy Peña rounded third base, looked toward the Houston dugout and gave the most casual two-handed shake you’ll ever see on a ballpark.

As it was a regular May game.

Only it was November. In the World Series. In the biggest game of his life.

Yes, Peña just got better and better this postseason.

Showing the finesse and poise of a proven veteran, the 25-year-old Peña showed quite the all-around performance on Thursday night. He hit the first rookie World Series homer, added two key singles and had a critical walk in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5.

“Rookie or non-rookie, it doesn’t matter,” Peña said. “We’re in the World Series. You just go out and play. Go compete and let the best win.”

Having already won the AL Championship Series MVP award and the Gold Glove over the past two weeks, the rookie star from the Dominican Republic has helped Houston move within one win of the ultimate prize, the World Series trophy.

Up 3-2 against the Phillies, it’s hard to imagine the Astros starting the season with many fans wondering how they would replace All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent.

“I never saw it as a need to fill shoes,” Peña said. “I just had to come in and be myself, play my game. But at the end of the season, once we reach our goal of going all the way, that’s when I sit down and reflect on my journey. But there is still work to be done and we have to get a foothold.”

Proving again that the biggest moments in baseball aren’t too big for him, the expressive and flamboyant Peña delivered a solid RBI single in the middle of the first inning, then rose high to hit a liner off Nick Castellanos to derail a potential rally in the third.

In the fourth, Peña gave the go-ahead single into the left seats to take a 2-1 lead and chase Phillies starter Noah Syndergaard.

“It was good from the beginning, but I didn’t know if it was enough,” Peña said. “I was running normally and then when the referee gave the signal I started jogging.”

Peña raised his right index finger high as he approached second base and clapped his hands after crossing the bag. A few moments later, he shrugged—perhaps in a hint of Michael Jordan—and folded his hands over his heart as he touched home plate.

No wonder manager Dusty Baker and the Astros love him so much.

“Well, he came into camp as a young player. His eyes were open. He always paid attention. You could tell he was very attentive and confident, but quiet,” Baker said. “Boy, he played extremely well. Boy, I mean, he’s really carried us through some time here through this postseason, and that’s especially tough for a young player, a young shortstop. And I’m just glad that we have him.”

Peña showed he can play small ball, too, with a deft hit-and-run single that created a much-needed insurance run in the eighth.

The three-hit show made Peña 8-for-21 (.381) with a pair of doubles to go along with the World Series homer.

That’s after he went 7-for-16 (.353) with two home runs and two doubles in the Yankees’ four ALCS games.

“I just go out and enjoy it, have fun, play hard, play my game and then just trust my preparation,” Peña said. “A lot of preparation went into it.”

He credited his Houston teammates for helping him keep his composure under pressure in contested games this time of year.

“They prepare for every game. It affects you. They have a sense of calm because they’ve been here for, I guess, four years out of the last six,” Peña said. “So you just root for them and just go out and compete and have fun.”

The Astros thought they saw something special when Peña hit .253 with 22 home runs during the regular season while excelling defensively.

In October and November of this year, the Astros and the baseball world saw just how special.

“I talked to him earlier this year about being ready, especially in a clutch situation, and staying aggressive. And he is working on it. He’s working on his game,” Baker said.

“These guys come from time to time—not very often. But it just goes to show you, I mean, his future is very, very bright.”

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