Since this had the possibility of being the last game played at Dodger Stadium in 2017 I had to seriously contemplate plunking down $1200 and going to this game.
Cooler heads prevailed once I did the math. Not only would it cost me $1200 but given the traffic situation from game one I estimated it would take nine hours, and six of those would be in a car and my old ass hurts after being in one for twenty minutes.
This left me with several options. Walk to my Numero Uno sports bar and watch the game while ogling the pretty bartenders or stay at home and listen to my wife complain about a team that is in the World Series, hear my cat constantly complain because I’m watching the World Series instead of taking him outside, and get pawed at repeatedly by my dog to give her the attention she felt she deserved. I decided for the comfort of home.
I settled into my couch at 04:30 to listen to the inane chatter of pre-game Fox hosts. My wife got home right at first pitch and would wander in and out throughout the game wondering why anyone was on the roster who couldn’t hit or pitch at exactly the moment she wandered in.
I really should have gone to my local bar.
With Justin Verlander throwing a no-hitter for five innings and the defense being saved by a brim I congratulated myself on saving $1200 and the misery of the trip. My cat was purring in my lap, agreeing with my inner thoughts. You belong here he said. Verlander was on tonight, I was starting to wonder if the Yankees won the World Series when Don Larsen threw a no-hitter (they did). Like others I marveled at how this pitcher looked on the wrong side of his career from April – MidAugust only to turn back into vintage Cy Young Verlander simply by becoming an Astro and having something to pitch for. This guy was good, no way were we scoring runs tonight against him. Our only hope was that he would run out of gas.
Right after I completed that thought, Joc Pederson got the first hit of the night, a booming home run to tie the game at one. Dave Roberts had been right again. It was hard to fathom Joc starting this game but Dave said in the pregame that “Joc hits velocity” and damn if he didn’t send a Verlander mistake into the pavilion. My wife happened by right at the moment and smacked me on the head for not going to the game.
One inning later Chris Taylor drew an incredible walk with two borderline pitches being called balls. Corey Seager launched an opposite-field home run off of Verlander and screamed as he hit it. Seager showed more emotion in that home run than he had shown in two seasons as a Dodger. The Dodger winning strategy was at work once again. Chris Taylor would force a tough walk, the next hitter would hit a home run. My dog was barking crazily at me and I knew what she was saying “why are you here, why aren’t you there”. She is a smart dog. My cat had stopped purring.
Since the Dodger bullpen had blown through the weak Astro hitters for two games and we had Morrow with six outs to go, this game seemed to be in the bag. It hadn’t been very exciting, just a couple of Dodger home runs. Same ole same ole.
Springer led off the eighth with a shot down the right-field line that I felt for sure Puig would make a circus catch as he has done all year but this time. ….this time the ball just knicked off the outside of his glove and bounced into the stands. Watching Puig I couldn’t decide which was more impressive how close he came to catching that or how quickly he took his glove off and threw it on the ground in as close to an in-game tantrum you will ever see in the World Series. Dave Roberts wasted no time and lifted Morrow for Kenley Jansen who was now tasked with getting the last six outs.
Jansen did his job in the 8th, the Astros did score Springer but nothing else happened and the middle of the order was done. If Jansen did his job in the 9th, the Dodgers would never see Springer/Bregman/Altuve/Correa again at Dodger Stadium.
With Jansen ready to toe the mound in the 9th I looked at the sold-out Dodger crowd and knew they were about to explode as the Dodgers took a 2 – 0 game lead. It was killing me that I wasn’t there. My dog was barking at me again “you fool, you fool, you fool”
One pitch later the game was tied at 3 and the cat was purring those comforting sounds which said: “aren’t you glad you skipped out on this madness”. Jansen had been Broxtoned. Who’d thunk it? By the guy, I said last winter would be a good guy to get. I can be so annoying.
Still, it was tied 3 – 3 headed to the 9th, and I’ve always said I’d rather watch a walk-off than win 10 – 0. The white knuckler has a bigger payoff. Who would be the Dodger hero in the 9th? Seager, Turner, or Bellinger? None of them, fork it.
Who the hell was going to pitch the 10th now that Roberts had blown through the bullpen? I could only remember Brandon McCarthy until I saw Josh Fields on the mound and my mind sank. I had not been fond of including Josh Fields on the original NLDS roster.
Josh Fields – I could easily see him being the Pedro Baez of 2017 if they let him
Two batters later the Astros had hit two home runs. Jose Altuve had finally put his mark on the game. Watching the Venezuelan Leprechaun jump up and down after his home run I still can’t fathom how he generates such power. Baseball has no great equalizer, you can dominate this game at 6’8 or 5’6. The cat was in full purr mode letting me know once again I’d made the right decision by providing a lap for him. My wife was yelling at the TV about the how the Dodgers suck and why can’t anyone play the game. Why was Fields pitching she yelled at me? I couldn’t answer her without thinking of Ryu.
Tony Cingrani replaced Fields and restored order and we headed to the bottom of the 10th down two runs.
Puig led off and so far had a meh game. He had continued to display his new found patience seeing pitch after pitch in each at-bat, but doing nothing substantial when he finally did make contact. He did the same in this at-bat working the count to 2 – 1. This time….this time he crushed a home run to LF, and also gently laid the bat down which was as cool as any bat flip he had ever done. Down only one, with no outs. My cat had stopped purring again, my wife said it was no big deal, they were still going to lose. My dog, however, was losing it, barking barking barking and I knew what she was saying. I should have been there to witness that Puig home run.
Still, we were down another run and when our two catchers struck out back to back it was up to Logan Forsythe. In a typical Logan Forsythe at-bat, he saw pitch after pitch until he had walked. A wild pitch later Ken Giles looked like that guy who had struggled against the Yankees. Hernandez had barely hit right hand pitching all year but John Smoltz said to throw those stats out. Kiké agreed and aimed a single into right field right at the charging Josh Reddick who was ready to close the game and shut the Dodger fans up. Josh fired to McCann but the throw was on the 1st base side and Forsythe slid in just before the tag and the Dodgers had tied the game.
It was just too much. This wasn’t just a Dodger game, this had turned into one of the greatest World Series I had sat on my ass at home to watch. What a forking maroon I had been not to go to this game.
Now it was upto Brandon McCarthy but Brandon pitched like a guy who hadn’t pitched in a month because he hadn’t. Down two runs the Dodgers had one more surprise in them.
Charlie Forking Culberson hit a home run. In one of the strangest sights of a night filled with strange sights, not only did Charlie Culberson hit a home run, he celebrated as though he had tied or won the game. No one does that. Not even Puig would do that. It was surreal and a perfect ending to a game the Dodgers would lose 7 – 6.