Right at the stroke of midnight – during Game 5 of the 2017 World Series – it happened again. Another big hit, and another tie score.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder and leadoff hitter Chris Taylor hit a single to centerfield in the top of that inning, the 9th inning, sending Dodgers baserunner Austin Barnes home to score, tying it up 12-12. Taylor’s hit marked the fourth time during Sunday’s game in Houston versus the Astros that a run had made it a tie game. And after the Astros’ failure to score in the bottom of the 9th, the game was sent into extra innings.
Sunday’s contest was nothing short of a prolonged tug-of-war, one which started with the Dodgers in a commanding 4-0 lead in the 4th inning. But eventually what looked like at first an easy, Hollywood-scripted win for the Dodgers, ended anything but. Instead, score lines of 4-4 in the bottom of the 4th, then 7-7 in the 5th, then 8-8 in the 7th, resembled more of a wild night at Las Vegas slot machines.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the 10th inning, after Astros reliever Chris Devenski blew the Astros’ three-run lead in the 9th, that the Houston Astros could close out this 5 hour and 17 minute-long game decisively. Tied 12-12 with two outs, third baseman Alex Bregman lobbed a base hit to shallow left field off of the Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen. Bregman’s timely hit sent pinch runner Derek Fisher from second base home to score the final run, closing it out 13-12.
Along with momentum and lead changes, the second-longest game in the history of the World Series was also a slugfest that marked 2017 as the most home run-heavy postseason ever.
During Sunday’s game the Dodgers had worked up their early lead on just walks and singles, with one in the 1st inning by second baseman Logan Forsyth and another in the 4th by catcher Austin Barnes. To even up the Astros had to rely on bigger hits.
Trailing by four in the 4th, a double by Astro shortstop Carlos Correa sent leadoff man George Springer home to make it 4-1. Thereafter, with Correa and Jose Altuve on base, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel smacked Clayton Kershaw’s first pitch far past left field for a three-run homer that made it 4-4. Gurriel’s whack that inning was the first of seven home runs in Game 5 alone.
Over the course of the next few innings, Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig would homer for the Dodgers, while Correa, Altuve, Springer and later catcher Brian McCann would add to the Astros’ own home run tally to keep them in the game and eventually grab their first lead of the night in the 7th inning.
Looking back to the start of the series, Sunday night’s game —which didn’t end until Monday morning technically— seems the perfect summary of a Fall Classic made up of extremes.
Tuesday’s kickoff started the first of two games played in L.A. under 100-degree temperatures, but was a relatively controlled outing for perennial Cy Young candidate and seven-time all-star Clayton Kershaw, who kept the Astros to one run. After Taylor and Bregman each shot one solo home run for teams to make it 1-1 in Game 1, Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner —who is easily more popular right now in L.A. than Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake combined— sealed the deal for the home team with a two-run homer in the sixth. But that was where any predictability about the 2017 World Series ended.
Game 2 on Wednesday, October 25, foreshadowed Sunday’s marathon with the Dodgers jumping out to a 3-1 thanks to Joc Pederson’s solo homer and Corey Seager’s two-run launch. But by the 9th inning the Astros would even up 3-3 forcing the game to venture into extra innings. Five more home runs from both sides saw the Astro lead and Dodgers tie up, before it ended in a 7-6 win in 11 innings for Houston.
Heading to Houston was less kind to the Dodgers as Yu Darvish was chased from the mound early in Game 3, a 5-3 Astros win, only to see the Dodgers force the series even with a 6-2 Game 4 win Saturday night.
During the week-long World Series stretch starting pitchers on both sides looked up to the task, while also revealing themselves as human. Bullpens were heavily taxed and didn’t fail to disappoint. Hitting stars from both sides struggled at different times, with Turner largely silent after Game 1 and Bellinger going 0-13 at the plate deep into Saturday. For the Astros it wasn’t until extra innings in Game 2 that stars Altuve and Correa hit for extra bases.
Houston’s Game 5 win puts the Astros up 3-2 in the World Series and one win away from the club’s first world championship. Heading back to L.A. things look good for the Astros with six-time all-star and 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander taking on Dodgers ace lefty Rich Hill on Tuesday, Game 6.
On Monday, before the start of the World Series, Verlander talked about his comfortable transition into the Astros organization, and a pretty natural feel with teammates.
“I couldn’t have it going any better than it did. Really, right away the guys made me feel right at home,” Verlander tells Rolling Stone about his last-minute move to Houston. Verlander also mentioned one player specifically, McCann, who will be catching for him next game, at Dodger Stadium.
“We’ve have been friends for a number of years. Finally we’re on the same team, [and] we really click on the mound and off. It’s a pretty special feeling, and made me feel like this was meant to be.”