A magical performance on the field. A fairy-tale ending for the star shortstop and his now fiancé. It doesn’t get much better for Astros nation than it did last night in their 5-1 Game 7 victory to clinch the World Series.
Years of disappointment were all but forgotten in the late evening hours in the visiting locker room at Dodger Stadium. The champagne came out of the ice buckets and the Astros team let loose. Their hopes and dreams of getting to this point were now realized.
The Houston Astros are the 2017 World Series Champions.
Writing a blog recapping this remarkable seven-game clash was a no-brainer. The highs and lows experienced by the players in this series resemble those from a Kardashian marriage. One-minute Astros players were jumping for joy. Seconds later Cody Bellinger was smacking a home run over the fence to re-take the lead.
I have watched some entertaining World Series in the past. The ebbs and flows of this series were the craziest I have seen.
I wanted to take you through the rollercoaster ride of emotions the team from Houston went through over the past 9 days. This World Series will undoubtedly go down as an instant classic. I want to make sure we appreciate just how fortunate we are as fans to have been able to watch it first-hand.
After losing the first game of the series in Los Angeles to Clayton Kershaw, the Astros had one thing in mind. Trying to even the series and hop on a plane and head home.
Down 0-1, the Astros counted on ace Justin Verlander to tie this thing up and send it back to Minute Maid Park. They didn’t care how it got done, they just couldn’t afford to go down 0-2 in the series. This one was wild, as it would take 11 innings for the dust to finally settle.
The Dodgers were leading 3-2 heading into the 9th inning. Los Angeles was just three outs away from a win and had their shutdown closer Kenley Jansen on the hill.
The 0-2 pitch that Marwin Gonzales smashed over the head of center-fielder Chris Taylor to tie the game at 3-3 was the shot in the arm this Astros offense needed. Through the first 17 innings of the World Series, the Astros offense had been held in check. Proving that Jansen wasn’t invisible gave Houston the confidence they needed to get over the hump.
Back-to-back blasts in the 10th inning by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa put the Astros up 5-3. High fives and screams of joy were rumbling through the dugout as they were now the team who was just three outs away from winning this game.
Those thrills were short-lived as the hometown Dodgers came roaring back in the bottom half of the inning. A solo shot by Yasiel Puig and an RBI single from Kiki Hernandez and we back where started, tie ball game.
Astros hitters were going to have to provide a spark in the 11th inning. Enter George Springer. This is where the multi-tooled leadoff hitter would start to make his presence felt. The Astros stud centerfielder smacked a 2-run dinger over the top of the right-field wall and just like the Astros were back on top by two runs.
This would be far from the last we would hear from Springer this series. A Charlie Culberson homerun in the bottom of the 11th cut the 2-run deficit in half. However, to the dismay of the A-List celebrities wearing Dodger blue in the stands, the Dodgers rally came up short.
Springer told espn.com after the game:
“When that last out is made, you finally breathe. That’s an emotional high—emotional high to low to high again. But that’s why we play the game. And that’s the craziest game that I’ve ever played in. And it’s only Game 2.”
Astros win 7-6. Series tied at one game apiece.
Springer was right. As unbelievable as a game as this was, the madness was just starting. This back and forth action was just a taste of what would play out over the course of the next five games.
A day off to travel was much needed after the over four hours of up and down action the teams endured the night before. After what we witnessed in Game 2, we couldn’t possibly see another game like it could we?
That’s exactly why they play the game. After splitting games 3 and 4, the series was knotted at two games apiece. The Astros jumped on Yu Darvish early and often in Game 3 and were able to stave off a Dodgers comeback attempt. In Game 4, we saw the Dodgers light up the Astros bullpen for five 9th inning runs. Through four games, this was about as close as a contested of series as Major League Baseball could hope for. What would ensue in Game 5 would be off the charts.
Game 5s in a 2-2 series generally prove to be the difference-making game. It is extremely difficult to win a series by having to win Games 6 and 7 with your back against the wall.
That’s exactly what the Astros would attempt to do on Sunday night. The problem is, it would take until the wee hours of Monday morning for the fat lady to sing.
It started at 5:20 pm EST on Crawford St in Houston. The 40,000+ fans packed inside Minute Maid Park donning orange tops and hats had no idea they had just sat down for a game for the ages.
Things couldn’t have started out worse for the home team. Before the Astros hitters had a single at-bat, they were in a 3-0 hole. An Austin Barnes RBI single in the top of the 4th inning gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. Things were looking good in Hollywood. If Los Angeles could hang on, they would be going back home with an opportunity to close Houston out and capture their first World Series in 29 years.
Not so fast Dodger fans. You never count your chickens before you hatch. In the bottom half of the 4th, the Astros bats caught fire. Carlos Correa doubled in George Springer to get the home team on the board. With Altuve and Correa in scoring position, Yuli Gurriel stepped up to the plate.
Gurriel was made famous earlier in the week after his irrational actions towards Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish caught headlines. An illogical gesture made by Gurriel earned him a 5-game suspension to start next season. It also earned him a big fat target on his back for the remainder of the World Series.
Yuli would get the last laugh this at-bat. With one giant swing, the Astros first basemen launched a 3-run homer over the left field wall. In a blink of an eye, this game was now 4-4. The fans in Houston were getting riled up. They would need to save some energy. The hoopla this night in Houston was just getting started.
Dodgers first baseman rookie sensation Cody Bellinger put his team back in command the following inning with a 3-run blast. Dodgers up 7-4.
What would take place in the bottom half of the 5th inning? How would the Astros respond? Springer and Bregman got on base and it was up to the MVP-frontrunner. What would the heart and soul of this Astros squad do next?
Try an absolute moonshot over the center field wall from the 5’5” second baseman. Tie ballgame. 7-7.
Believe it or not, I haven’t even got to the craziest parts of the game yet. Buckle up.
To me, what happened in the 7th inning was the coolest moment in the entire World Series. It started with the game tied at seven and Cody Bellinger back at the plate. A blooper into centerfield caused George Springer to miss-time his jump. The bailed sailed underneath Springer’s glove and chased back to the center field warning track. Kiki Hernandez was able to score easily, and the Dodgers now had an 8-7 lead. The frustration and disappointment on Springer’s face were obvious. He felt as if he let his team down and was the reason the Dodgers now had a one-run lead.
Fortunately for Springer, he was due to lead-off the bottom half of the 7th inning. He wouldn’t have to wait long to redeem himself. Springer took this to the extreme.
Springer stepped up to the plate with his team now trailing by one-run. The same one-run he felt as though he was responsible for allowing them to score just minutes earlier. With the Dodgers turning to reliever Brandon Morrow for the third consecutive night, Springer took out his frustration on the very first pitch Morrow would throw that night.
An outright behemoth 484-foot shot to left center field was Springer’s response. So much for letting your team down huh?
It felt eerie watching it live. I could tell how upset Springer was for letting that ball go past him and letting the run score. I just had a feeling he was going to do something special for his team. The way he stepped up to the plate, wasted no time and ripped the cover off the ball on the first pitch. That was the coolest thing I’ve seen in a baseball game in a long, long time.
The Astros 7th inning party was just getting started. Morrow would face four hitters that night. After the mammoth homer given up to Springer, he allowed a single and a double to Bregman and Altuve. Carlos Correa stepped in and clobbered a Morrow fastball to left field and the Astros suddenly went from down 8-7 to up 11-8 in just four short at-bats.
Time to celebrate for Astros fans, right? Not in this game. Not on this night. The Dodgers and Astros exchanged one run apiece in the 8th inning. Astros led the game 12-9 going into the 9th inning and had their closer Ken Giles coming in to close it out.
Just like a Hollywood movie script, another comeback ensued. A Yasiel Puig 2-run homer followed by a clutch RBI single from Chris Taylor. The Dodgers miraculously tacked on 3 runs in the 9th and sent this game into extra innings.
We were already well into Monday morning on the east coast, why not play some more baseball?
Thankfully for the Houston fan base, Alex Bregman would play the role of hero on this night (or should I say morning). Once again, the Astros got to closer Kenley Jansen. Bregman roped a single, scoring pinch-runner Derek Fisher.
5 hours and 17 minutes later, Game 5 was in the books. A historic 13-12 extra-inning victory is what it would show up the next day in the newspaper.
This was already a series for the ages. With the Astros now leading three games to two, it was back to Los Angeles to try and close this thing out.
I just this series was too competitive and too highly contested to end in just six games. I expected the Dodgers to show up on Tuesday and force a decisive Game 7. My fruitions came true and the baseball world was getting what they had hoped for.
Game 7s in World Series doesn’t happen every year. It was just the third time in the past 15 seasons that we have been treated to a Game 7 in the World Series.
The only people disappointed were the Dodgers fans. From the moment this game got underway, the Astros looked like the team that was ready to finish this juggernaut off. Springer’s magical World Series run continued by leading off the game with a double off Yu Darvish. Things didn’t get much better for Yu.
What happened was an absolute nightmare for the Dodgers’ pitcher. Darvish would only last into the 2nd inning before Dave Roberts had seen enough. Los Angeles had spotted Houston a five-run lead and the air was completely out of the building. The 56,000 packed in fans were stunned as the Astros looked like a team on a mission this night.
They were clearly the better team during Game 7. The Dodgers had no problem in getting baserunners aboard. They, however, were unable to capitalize on the many opportunities to crawl back into this ballgame. Each time it looked as if the Dodgers were going to score runs, Astros pitchers were able to get out of the jam.
Sometimes when it’s your time, it’s just your time. I kind of think that was the case for this Houston Astros ballclub.
I hate getting into to sappy stuff, saying things like “this team was destined” or “they deserved to win that game”. However, this year’s Astros squad was that team. This is a team that lost more than 100 games three straight seasons just a few short years ago.
This is the city that had to experience the worst hurricane in United States history just a month or so prior. This team and these fans deserved to enjoy the high that is winning a World Series.
I am just glad I got to watch it all take place. This blog hardly does justice to the spectacle that was this year’s World Series. Reminiscing and recapping the intensity each night was what I was trying to achieve. If you got even 10% as fired up reading this article as I was watching the games, I know I did my job!