I love baseball. Presumably, you are here because you, too, love baseball.
I don’t usually write recaps of postseason games that don’t involve the Cubs, but Game 2 of the World Series, won in 11 innings by the Astros 7-6, had so many twists and turns and leads blown by relievers who normally don’t do such things that I thought it deserved a few comments this morning.
Vin Scully’s introduction alone made this game worthwhile:
Then Alex Bregman began the scoring by hitting a single with runners on first and third with one out in the third inning [VIDEO].
That ball hit the brim of Chris Taylor’s cap, helping the Dodgers hold Bregman to a single. If that ball goes a couple of inches higher, or lower, it likely goes to the wall, a second run scores and Bregman is at least at second, maybe third. How many runs might Houston have scored?
Justin Verlander had a no-hitter through 4⅔ innings, walking one and facing the minimum because of a double play. Joc Pederson, who had one hit in the postseason prior to that inning, homered to tie the game.
Then after another Verlander walk in the sixth, Corey Seager homered — and he knew it!
Verlander has allowed just two hits, but his team is trailing 3-1, as both of those hits were home runs. Meanwhile, Rich Hill is long gone from the game, pulled after only four innings and 60 pitches (and TV shots of him in the dugout show that he was not happy about that). This will become important later.
We go to the eighth. Bregman leads off with a sinking liner tailing away from Yasiel Puig, who nearly makes a great diving catch [VIDEO].
Puig was mad at himself, as you can see, for not making that grab, but the effort was outstanding even to get there. If Puig does make that catch, you’re probably not reading this recap, because Bregman eventually scored to make it 3-2. The hit that drove in Bregman came off Kenley Jansen, who had been brought into the game to get a six-out save.
In that, he failed when Marwin Gonzalez led off the ninth. Gonzalez was once in the Cubs organization, but he went to the Astros in the 2012 Rule 5 draft. At the time he left the Cubs — and even for the first couple of years he was in the big leagues with Houston — he didn’t appear to be more than a nice utility player, kind of a poor man’s Ben Zobrist.
He had a breakout year in 2017, leading the Astros in RBI and hitting 23 home runs, posting 4.3 bWAR while starting games at five positions.
And he might never hit a home run bigger than this one:
Gonzalez’ homer tied the game 3-3. It was Jansen’s first blown save since July 16, 2016 and his first ever in a postseason game. He’d pitched in 25 postseason games before Wednesday without blowing a save.
Ken Giles retired the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, and on we went to the first extra-inning game in a World Series since Game 7 last year. Little did we know at the time 2017’s Game 2 went to extras that we’d have a contest rivaling Game 7 for excitement, even if it wasn’t about the Cubs.
The Dodgers’ pulling of Hill early, and running through five relievers from the fifth through the ninth, came back to bite them. Josh Fields entered to throw the 10th, and Jose Altuve wasted no time crushing Fields’ third pitch:
Two pitches later, Carlos Correa gave the Astros a two-run lead [VIDEO].
Tony Cingrani was summoned and he eventually got out of the inning with a double play, after a double and an intentional walk. But the Astros had a two-run lead. Would it be enough?
No! And this is where the game got even crazier. Four pitches into the bottom of the 10th, Puig made it 5-4 [VIDEO].
Giles settled down and struck out the next two hitters. And he ran a 1-2 count on Logan Forsythe.
One. Strike. Away.
That strike never came, as Giles walked Forsythe. Astros pitching coach Brent Strom came out for a visit. Those never seem to work in situations like this, because almost immediately Giles wild-pitched Forsythe to second. That brought up Kiké Hernandez, who had tortured the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLCS. Hernandez singled [VIDEO].
That play was awfully, awfully close, but Forsythe was clearly safe. Josh Reddick made a great throw — can you imagine if that game had ended on that play? That alone, plus all the things that had happened before, would have made it an all-time classic. Also, that was the only Dodgers hit in the game that wasn’t a home run.
Hernandez went to second on Reddick’s throw and A.J. Hinch relieved Giles with Chris Devenski. Before Devenski even threw a pitch, he tried to pick off Hernandez. That didn’t go well [VIDEO].
If that throw doesn’t hit Laz Diaz, Hernandez is on third. At least. Who knows? Maybe he scores from there. But it didn’t happen. Hernandez stayed on second and Devenski struck out Taylor to end the inning.
We weren’t done having our jaws drop, either.
Verlander, who had left the game many hours before, made an appearance in the dugout before the 11th [VIDEO].
Shades of Jason Heyward’s speech during the Game 7 rain delay last year. Here’s what Verlander said about it after the game [VIDEO].
Brandon McCarthy, the last available Dodgers pitcher, entered to throw the 11th.
Cameron Maybin, who had hit .186 in 21 games after being acquired by the Astros from the Angels August 31, had played in just three of the Astros’ first 12 postseason games. Yet here he is in the 11th inning, leading off with a single. Then he stole second, on a throw that probably had him out, except Austin Barnes dropped the ball.
Austin Barnes. Who’s normally a catcher, although he did play parts of 21 games at second base during the regular season. He’s at second because Dave Roberts double-switched himself out of players in this one.
That brought up George Springer.
Lots of heroes tonight.— MLB (@MLB) October 26, 2017
But Super Springer topped them all! pic.twitter.com/BB6NJ9GiW9
Springer’s home run gave the Astros a two-run lead. Again.
There had been 17 extra-inning HRs in World Series history before tonight. There have been 4 in the last half-hour— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 26, 2017
That wasn’t going to be it for home runs, either.
Devenski, who had recorded the final out of the 10th in relief of Giles, stayed in the game. I had thought Hinch might bring in Luke Gregerson or Brad Peacock, guys who have had closing experience, but there was Devenski, a man with five big-league regular season saves in 110 games.
He got the first two outs, though both balls were well-struck, the second a hot line drive by the dangerous Justin Turner that was snared by Bregman.
And so, again... one out away.
Charlie Culberson has six home runs in 411 regular-season at-bats. And there he was, hitting a home run in a World Series game he probably didn’t figure to even play in just a few innings before.
It’s 7-6. And Puig is the next hitter.
You could sense the game might wind up tied again. Puig ran the count from 0-2 to 3-2, then fouled off two pitches. And then:
After five tries — four in 2005 and Game 1 this year — the Astros had the first-ever World Series victory for the franchise. (In fact, they had the lead in just one of the previous five games, for a few innings in Game 2 in 2005.)
Jayson Stark’s tweet above needed to be amended just a few minutes after he wrote it, because a fifth home run was hit in extra innings after it was sent, Springer’s game-winner. That also gave this game a record for total home runs in a World Series game with eight. (Previous record: seven, by the Athletics and Giants in Game 2 of the 1989 World Series.)
For seven innings, this game looked like a repeat of Game 1 and it sure seemed as if the Dodgers would take a two games to none lead heading to Houston, with the possibility of a sweep.
Now? As we saw Wednesday night, anything can happen in baseball. Games like this thrill not only the fans of the winning team, but should thrill any baseball fan, even one who doesn’t follow the game as closely as we do here. That’s why I wrote this recap, because I thought everyone here would like to re-live this amazing baseball game.
I love baseball. Games like this are a big reason for that. Hopefully, we have more excitement and great games like Game 2 in store for us before the 2017 season is over.