October 31, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Thriller in Houston: Astros stun Dodgers again!

With Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Sunday night (going against Dallas Keuchel of the Astros, just like in Game 1), it looked like the visiting team would take a 3-2 lead in the World Series. But once again, just like in Game 2 (see previous post), the proverbial "Flying Fickle Finger of Fate" (from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In") changed everything. The Dodgers scored three runs in the top of the first inning, and added another run in the fourth. But the Astros responded with a four-run rally in the bottom of that inning, capped by a three-run homer by Yuli Gurriel, and the home fans immediately became a big factor in the game once again. The Dodgers responded with three runs in the top of the fifth, and then the Astros did the same in the bottom of the inning. Home runs were going every which way out of Minute Maid Park: Bellinger for the Dodgers and Altuve for the Astros in the fifth. It was an incredible back-and-forth slugfest. In the seventh inning, George Springer's home run tied it for the Astros, and then the home team took the lead for the first time on a double by Altuve. Then Carlos Correa hit an extremely high pop fly to left field that landed in the second row of seats, only 315 feet away. The Dodgers scored once in the eighth, and then Brian McCann hit a solo homer to give the Astros their three-run lead back. That seemed like enough of a cushion, but then Yasiel Puig hit a line drive homer to virtually the same place that Correa's homer had gone, but with a much different trajectory. Down to their final out, the Dodgers' Chris Taylor (yes, that Chris Taylor!) hit an RBI single to send it into extra innings. In the top of the tenth, the Dodgers could only manage a single, and with Kenley Jansen on the mound, it seemed certain that the game would go at least another inning. But he hit Brian McCann with a pitch and then walked George Springer, after which Alex Bregman hit a walk-off RBI single to left center field. And the crowd went wild!!!

Thus the Astros won Game 5 by a score of 13-12, the second-highest score in World Series history. (In Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, the Blue Jays beat the Phillies, 15-14.) In tonight's Game 6, the Astros had a 1-0 lead until the sixth inning, when the Dodgers staged a rally. Stay tuned, sports fans!

In Game 3 (Friday), the Astros capitalized on the momentum from their stunning Game 2 victory with a big rally in the second inning. Yuli Gurriel led off with a homer, and his racially-tinged taunt toward the Dodgers' starting pitcher Yu Darvish got headlines, and a five-day suspension effective at the beginning of next year. After the Astros scored three more runs, Darvish was taken out in his shortest outing in the major leagues. The Astros' Lance McCullers pitched into the sixth inning, and his replacement Brad Peacock had a rocky beginning, allowing a second run to score in that inning on a wild pitch. But then he settled down and went the rest of the game to get a record-setting 3 2/3-inning save as the Astros held on to win, 5-3.

In Game 4 (Saturday), the Astros scored first with a solo home run by George Springer in the sixth inning, but the Dodgers tied it 1-1 in the top of the seventh. In the top of the ninth, the Dodgers suddenly exploded with a five-run rally, three of which were charged to the Astros' closing pitcher Ken Giles, who didn't even get a single out. In the bottom of the ninth, Alex Bregman hit a solo homer, but it didn't really matter as the Dodgers still won, 6-2, thus evening the series at two apiece.

I should have mentioned that at the beginning of Game 2 in Los Angeles, the Dodgers had their long-time broadcast announcer Vin Scully throw out the first pitch, and then Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Yeager joined him near the mound. That was a pretty touching moment, I have to admit. Scully retired after the 2016 season, and possibly wishes he could have stuck around for this most successful year for the Dodgers since 1988.

Nats pick Martinez as new manger

In Our Nation's Capital, meanwhile, the Nationals front office announced that Dave Martinez had signed a three-year contract as the team's new manager. Details to follow...