The Astros or Indians deserve to be in the World Series.
The two teams that won their American League Division series openers decisively Thursday are not only the best teams in their league but have reasons to advance that go well beyond the playing field.
The Houston Astros continued to outclass the Boston Red Sox with an explosive lineup and far better pitching. They rocked the Sox and a worn-down Chris Sale to win easily 8-2. But they have even more incentive than never having won the World Series in their 55-year history.
They have joined the NFL Texans as the pride of a city that was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and continue to provide a distraction for a few hours each time they play to the natural disaster that Houston will be digging its way out of for years.
Symbolic of the seismic struggle is the smallest man on the Astros, but the probable American League MVP, Jose Altuve, who joined an elite group by hitting three home runs in one post-season game when he bombed his hat trick out of Minute Maid Park.
In the second game Thursday, the Cleveland Indians showed why they are favored to not only advance to the World Series but win it for the first time since 1948, the current longest championship drought in baseball, and erase the bitter memory of their seven-game loss to the Cubs last year.
Their pitching staff is so deep that ace and likely Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber agreed to stabilize the rotation by starting the second game and allowing Trevor Bauer to pitch the opener against the Yankees and then have enough rest to come back if needed later in the series.
Bauer and former Tar Heel Andrew Miller held the slugging Yanks to two hits through eight innings of the 4-0 victory, and now Cleveland has its ace to win the second game at home and pretty much wrap up the series; then move on to the best-of-seven against the Astros and keep hope alive for their long-struggling fans.
If those two ball clubs do play for a berth in the World Series, they will have done it by not only being the best teams in their league but also having the right karma on their sides.