If you weren’t watching, you’d be forgiven for thinking that rumors of last night’s ballgame are nothing more than tall tales. 25 runs scored in a game started by Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel? Seven more World Series home runs to break the all time record? Blown saves by a pair of the best relievers in the game? It strains credulity.
No matter what happens in Los Angeles tomorrow, this year’s Fall Classic has been one of the most dramatic—and downright fun—in history. It takes some powerfully entertaining baseball to all but erase the memory of that team from Chicago ending a 108-year title drought just under one year ago. The Astros and Dodgers are doing their part.
Game 5 started in improbable fashion and didn’t look back. LA leadoff man Chris Taylor smacked a 90-mph Keuchel sinker for a ground ball single up the middle. Two walks to the next three batters from an uncharacteristically shaky Keuchel loaded the bases, and a Logan Forsythe single knocked in the first two runs of the game. Four pitches later, a wild pickoff play allowed another run to cross the plate, and the Dodgers had an early 3-0 lead. Three innings later, another Dodgers single brought home a runner. Suddenly, Keuchel’s night was over and the Astros’ offense faced a steep uphill battle against Clayton Kershaw, who had faced the minimum through the first three innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, George Springer started to rewrite that story. He reached base on a walk, and advanced to second when Jose Altuve lined a sharp single into left field. When the Houston offense starts to click, they don’t stop. An energized Carlos Correa smoked a line drive double to score Springer, then came home with Altuve on a clutch home run by Yuli Gurriel.
With the game tied 4-4 in the fifth innings, LA rookie Cody Bellinger shot a line drive just over the wall in right field for a three-run homer to once again hand Kershaw and the Dodgers a comfortable lead. Befitting this series, that lead didn’t last long. Jose Altuve launched a towering blast into the Philips 66 Home Run Alley in left-centerfield in the bottom of the fifth for a three-run bomb of his own, and the game was knotted at 7.
The Astros and Dodgers traded blows the rest of the way, each scoring five runs across the next four innings. Houston had built a 12-9 lead heading into the ninth, only to watch it vaporize with the force of a Yasiel Puig home run and a RBI single by Taylor.
Joe Musgrove held the Dodgers in check in the top of the tenth, and All-Star LA closer Kenley Jansen came out for his second inning of work in the bottom half. He started the frame by doing Kenley Jansen things, inducing a quick groundout from Evan Gattis and striking out Marwin Gonzalez on a physics-bending slider. But then things started to go Houston’s way—albeit painfully. Brian McCann was struck by a 95-mph cutter, and the ever-patient George Springer worked his third walk of the night. Rookie outfielder Derek Fisher was brought in for his series debut to pinch run for McCann, and found himself scampering home one pitch later, when Alex Bregman lined a single to left. Fisher slid in ahead of the tag, and 43,300 fans at Minute Maid erupted in jubilation.
Now, the Astros are facing a date with immortality. Never in franchise history have they won the World Series. They’ll get their first chance tomorrow evening at Dodgers Stadium, in front of a raucous crowd of Los Angelenos. Rich Hill fires his first pitch at 7:00 Central; Justin Verlander will work the bottom half.
No Morrow Tomorrow?
LA reliever Brandon Morrow pitched beautifully in the regular season, with a 2.06 ERA across 43.2 innings. But he’s now appeared in all five World Series games, and the fatigue is starting to show. Last night, the fireballing righty allowed four runs on four hits (including two home runs) without recording an out. He deserves some rest—but if the Dodgers are desperate, they could try to push him even further.
Astros superstar Jose Altuve is sure to finish in the top two of the American League Most Valuable Player voting this year after hitting a noisy .346 with 24 home runs and 32 stolen bases. He’s up to his usual tricks this postseason, clobbering seven homers so far and sporting a .344 average. After a cool start to the World Series, he went three for five last night with a home run, a double, and four RBIs. Postseason performance doesn’t impact MVP voting, but one thing is clear: Altuve is as good as they come, and he’s making his case to rank alongside the game’s greatest.