Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, Oct. 26.
Whatever else may happen in this World Series, no man can deny the Astros belong there with the Dodgers. After losing all 4 games with the White Sox in 2005 and losing game 1 Tuesday night, they bucked the odds and shocked the world with a 7-6 11-inning win in game 2 in Los Angeles. The ball never flies at night at Dodger Stadium-until 8 balls left the lot, all but 2 coming in the last 3 innings.
As the old DJ’s of top 40 radio might say, It was an instant replay, replay, replay of game 1-until it wasn’t. Through 7 innings it was 3-1 Dodgers, the score by which the Angelinos had won Tuesday night and most of the east coast fans couldn’t have been blamed for calling it a night. Even the Astros’ 8th-inning rally to make it 3-2 didn’t seem all that important. After all, Kenley Jansen was on the hill for the Dodgers and he hadn’t blown a save-until he did in the 9th inning.
The game wasn’t an exact carbon copy. This time the Astros scored first, on an RBI hit by Alex Bregman. Rich Hill, the Dodgers’ starter was no Clayton Kershaw and was pulled after 4, the earliest hook for an uninjured pitcher since the Reds’ Gary Nolan in 1975 (and even he might have been injured that night.) Kenta Maeda and Tony Watson held the fort while the Dodgers first tied the game, then took the lead. They evened the score at 1 in the last of the fifth on a home run by Joc Pederson, inserted on a hunch by Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts. It was the first hit given up by Justin Verlander at the time. In the last of the 6th, after a walk to Chris Taylor, Corey Seager played the role Justin Turner played on Tuesday night. He launched a 2-run home run making it 3-1. End of story, Dodgers up 2 games to None. Or not?
In the 8th the Astros mounted their second rally of the night. After a ground-rule double by Bregman off Brandon Morrow, Roberts turned to Kenley Jansen an inning earlier than usual looking for the save. Carlos Correa singled home Bregman making it 3-2. An inning later, Marwin Gonzalez, a Venezuelan who is barely a household name in his own household tied the score with a solo blast off Jansen. The last time the Dodgers’ amazing closer blew a save was in late July against Atlanta in a game the Dodgers went on to win. Up to then the Dodgers were 98–0 if they had a lead after 8 innings.
This is where things got crazy. With most of his relievers expended Roberts had to look to the back of his bull pen. Josh Fields lived up to the family name, serving up cookies to Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. On this stage, those cookies were hit out of sight for a 5-3 Astros’ lead. But the visitors had pitching issues as well. While closer Ken Giles had kept things quiet in the 9th, he couldn’t hold the lead an inning later. Yasiel Puig opened up with a home run which might have been excused if Giles could buckle down and get 3 outs. He couldn’t. KiKe Hernandez singled home the tying run in the person of Logan Forsythe. Chris Devenski replaced Giles and ended the inning, putting himself in line for a win if the Astros scored in the 11th and if he could hold the line. In the 11th facing Brandon McCarthy, the Astros’ George Springer unloaded a 2-run home run putting his side up 7-5. Even that wasn’t quite enough drama for the night. With two men out and nobody on the Dodgers’ last man standing-one Charlie Culberson-homered to draw L.A. within a run. At long last Yasiel Puig struck out and the battle had been won by the visiting Astros. Texas is proud.
From here the Astros return home where they demolished the Yankees last weekend. Said demolition has now rendered Joe Girardi unemployed. Binder Joe as he has come to be known was told to go peddle his papers as I was writing the opening words for this column. Barring an urgent message I received, you wouldn’t be reading of it in this forum as I haven’t turned the radio on yet and wasn’t about to look at Twitter until I wrote up last night’s game. Girardi took the Yankee job after an insulted Joe Torre called it a career and took Don Mattingly with him. It had been presumed that Mattingly was Torre’s heir apparent. Mattingly managed the Dodgers through 2015 and since then has run the good ship Marlins aground in Miami. Binder Joe, along with Dusty Baker (Nationals) and John Farrell (Red Sox) are playoff managers who are managers no longer since their teams have been eliminated from the postseason. Only two sitting big league managers have been doing the job longer than Girardi. One is the Angels’ Mike Scioscia, the other Bruce Bochy of the Giants. Girardi’s cards may have been marked since game 2 of the ALDS against Cleveland when he didn’t ask for an umpire’s review on a play that led directly to a massive rally by the Indians. Much as I dislike replay reviews on principle, this one would have been worth the effort. Only winning the World Series might have saved Girardi’s job after that blunder. In a postgame press conference He seemed to know the axe was poised above his head Saturday night after the Astros ended the Yankees’ season. I know how he felt. After a firing from a job I had in 2010 I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the firing would end my marriage. It did. A perceptive man can sense when a cornice is about to fall.
Following a needed off night after last night’s craziness the World Series will pick up tomorrow in Houston. Logic dictates the Dodgers would start Darubisshu Yu, aka Yu Darvish although I can’t find data to back that up. I have less of an idea who the Astros might go with considering the gymnastics the Astros’ pitchers have had to perform just to get where they are.