The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers were division rivals from 1969 to 1993. It wasn’t until 1979 that the rivalry started to take off and mean more to the two teams. That was the year that the Astros finished ahead of the Dodgers in the standings for the first time. The Astros were 10 games better than the Dodgers and finished in 2nd place to the Cincinnati Reds.
In 1980 the rivalry took shape when the Astros won the NL West for the first time. Winning the division by 1 game over the Dodgers. They lost in the National League Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies went on to win the World Series.
In the strike season of 1981 the Dodgers won the NL West in the first half of the season while the Astros won the NL West in the second half of the season. The two teams squared off in the first round of the playoffs. The division series that year was a best of 5. The Astros took games 1 and 2 in Houston. Nolan Ryan won game 1 and the Astros won 3 to 1. In the second game the Astros won in the bottom of the 11th on a pinch hit single by Denny Walling. The Astros were up 2 games to 0 and headed to Los Angeles only needing 1 win to move on to the National League Championship Series.
But then the bottom dropped out. The Dodgers won game 3 by a score of 6 to 1. In game 4 the Dodgers won 2 to 1 with Fernando Valenzuela on the mound. In the deciding game 5 Nolan Ryan took the mound for the Astros and Jerry Reuss was the starter for the Dodgers. In the 6th inning the Dodgers broke through with 3 runs. They scored another 1 in the 7th. The Astros were held to 5 hits and 0 runs. The Dodgers took game 5 and headed to the National League Championship Series and eventually the World Series. The Dodgers won in 6 games.
The Astros never recovered from that series. They were competitive for the rest of the 80s, but didn’t win the division again until 1986. They then played the New York Mets in the NLCS and lost in 6 games. The Mets went on to win the World Series. (Game 6 of the NLCS is the last game where the Houston Astros wore their “rainbow” uniforms.)
The Astros main nemesis for those years in the 80s were the Dodgers.
Now the 2017 World Series comes down to these two former Division Rivals. When the Astros first came into Major League Baseball, and the Western Division, it was the Dodgers that they wanted to copy. The Dodgers never wanted this “little brotherr” to become an upstart. Now it’s time to see if the little brother has finally grown up and no longer needs it’s big brother.