November 1, 2017

WS7: Astros 5, Dodgers 1

Astros  - 230 000 000 - 5  5  0
Dodgers - 000 001 000 - 1  6  1
In an unforgettable World Series, who would have expected Game 7 to be fairly dull and anti-climatic? (Note: As long as you were not a serious fan of either team.)

The Houston Astros are baseball's champions, prevailing in a game whose course was set by the middle of the second inning. The Astros scored two quick runs off Yu Darvish in the first, aided by an LA fielding error. After the Dodgers left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, Houston scored three more times in the second, capping the inning on George Springer's two-run homer.

The Dodgers continued putting men on base but were unable to bring them home. Through six innings, they went 1-for-13 with runners on second and/or third and left 10 runners on base. When they did finally score a run, on Andre Ethier's pinch-hit single with one out in the sixth, it seemed like maybe getting a run on the scoreboard would loosen up the Dodgers and they could get back in the game. As it turned out, that was the high point (such as it was) of their night. Charlie Morton retired the next (and last) 11 Los Angeles batters, allowing only two balls out of the infield.

Springer's home run was his fifth of the series and gave him the honour of being the only player in history to homer in four consecutive games in the same World Series. Springer also set World Series records for extra-base hits (eight) and total bases (29). He also had an extra-base hit in six consecutive WS games.

As it turned out, the June 24, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated (pictured above) was right. The magazine even put Springer (the 2017 World Series MVP) on the cover! Ben Reiter wrote that story three seasons ago and last week, he explained why. Reiter also noted that the Houston Chronicle called SI's claim "more of an attention-grabbing, perhaps even tongue-in-cheek projection than a prediction".

Springer began the game by hitting Darvish's third pitch for a double into the left field corner. Alex Bregman grounded a ball to the right side. Cody Bellinger ranged far to his right, and his throw to first was behind Darvish and went for an error. Springer scored. Bregman stole third without a throw and scored on Jose Altuve's grounder to first. Darvish had thrown only eight pitches and the Dodgers trailed 2-0. Darvish got the final two outs, one of which was a 13-pitch battle against Yuli Gurriel.

In the Dodgers first, Chris Taylor led off with a double to right-center. Corey Seager struck out, but Astros starter Lance McCullers hit Justin Turner with a 1-2 pitch. After Bellinger - who set a new WS record with 17 strikeouts - whiffed, McCullers drilled Puig. With the bases loaded, Joc Pederson grounded an 0-2 pitch to second.

Darvish appeared to have struck out Brian McCann to begin the second, but home plate umpire Mark Wegner incorrectly called the 1-2 pitch a ball. McCann eventually walked. When Marwin Gonzalez doubled McCann to third, I could easily see Wegner's blown call making a huge difference in this game. If Wegner had made the proper call, perhaps Darvish doesn't allow any runs in the second and the Dodgers, feeling more confident down by only two runs, end up on top. It is not an outlandish proposition. A blown call changing the course of a Game 7 does not have to be on a late-inning tag at home plate. It could be a wrong call at any point that causes an inning to get out of control.

The Dodgers played the infield in and Darvish got two ground balls to second. The second one, off McCullers's bat, scored McCann. Darvish (1.2-3-5-1-0, 47) fell behind Springer 2-0, worked the count full, and gave up a 438-foot blast to deep left-center. Brandon Morrow got the final out.

(Morrow is now the second pitcher to appear in all seven games of a World Series, joining Darold Knowles of the 1973 Athletics. This was the first Game 7 in World Series history in which neither of the starting pitchers lasted three innings.)

In the bottom of the second, Logan Forsythe singled and after a groundout moved him to second, McCullers hit pinch-hitter Enrique Hernandez. The BABIP gods cursed the Dodgers when Taylor lined out to shortstop and Forsythe was doubled off second.

The LA third offered more of the same. Seager singled and McCullers hit Turner for the second time. It was McCuller's fourth HBP in 12 batters. After McCullers (2.1-3-0-0-3, 49) struck out Bellinger, A.J. Hinch went to his bullpen. Brad Peacock got Puig to fly to center and then he struck out Pederson.

Through the first three innings, the Dodgers sent 15 men to the plate - and 10 of them batted with a runners on second and/or third. None of those 10 batters got a hit.

The Dodgers also left two men on base in each of the fifth and sixth innings.

Clayton Kershaw took the mound in the third inning and threw four scoreless innings, allowing only two singles and two intentional walks. The walks came in the sixth after Carlos Correa led off with a single and reached third with two outs. LA manager put Gonzalez on first and then, when Evan Gattis was announced as a pinch-hitter for Josh Reddick, Roberts put him on base, too. The moves gave Kershaw no margin for error and if Houston could add to its 5-0 lead, that would likely put the game on ice. Kershaw got a called strike on Cameron Maybin, another pinch-hitter, and then got him to foul out to third.

So the score remained 5-0 and the Dodgers finally scored in the bottom of the sixth. They trailed 5-1 and had runners at first and second with one out. Morton had no problem striking out Taylor, who was anxious and hacking at everything. He took a strike, then swung and missed, fouled a pitch off, and swung and missed again. Seager grounded the first pitch to shortstop, shattering his bat. Correa ran in and had trouble getting the ball out of his glove, but made the play to end the inning.

Morton then retired the side in order in each of the last three innings. The last two outs in the ninth were ground balls to Altuve at second.

Lance McCullers / Yu Darvish

There have been 38 World Series winner-take-all games. The home team has won 19 and the visiting team has won 19. (Also, the World Series has gone to seven games in three of the last four seasons.)

This is the first World Series Game 7 between two 100-win teams since 1931, when St. Louis' "Gas House Gang" Cardinals beat the Philadelphia A's, who had won the previous two World Series under manager Connie Mack.

This will also be the 11th World Series game that has been played in November. The previous ten: 2001 (Games 5-7), 2009 (Games 4-6), 2010 (Game 5), 2015 (Game 5), and 2016 (Games 6-7).

Barry Petchesky, Deadspin: Get Ready For A Night Of Weird Bullpens
This series, this season is going to end tonight, or maybe early tomorrow morning. Just a few more outs left to get. It's been a while since the managers' decisions on who to get those outs felt like they carried so much weight.
Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan discusses Rich Hill and "The Early At-Bat That Changed the Whole Game":
Hill knew if he could just get through Reddick, he might find a way mostly out of the inning. ... If Reddick could be retired, then, presumably, Verlander could be retired. Then it would be a matter of facing Springer or Alex Bregman. Nothing easy, to be sure, but better to get there with two outs than one. ...

Hill needed to focus on getting rid of Reddick. ... That was going to keep the Dodgers alive. ... Ball one. Then ball two. Then ball three. ...

Do you know what happens after 3-and-0 counts? Let me tell you what happens after 0-and-0 counts. Batters walked 9% of the time. They struck out 22% of the time. ... And, after 3-and-0? Batters walked 60% of the time. They struck out 7% of the time. ...
Hill's margin of error had been reduced right down to nothing. ... Hill didn't want to concede. He just had to be perfect. ...
Baseball Lets You Lose Your Mind
Lindsey Adler, Deadspin, October 31, 2017
[I]n baseball, there are a billion and four different outcomes in any single moment, and there is no clock limiting the possibilities. It's a game that people smarter than me have quantified in nearly every way imaginable, and yet, it's by its nature the game that allows for the most random deviation of what's expected based on the information about every batter, every pitcher, even every fielder now. To watch baseball is to submit to a reprieve from control. It's the ultimate antidote to control-freak tendencies. It's a game of suspense and chance, and when that outcome is a ball hit 450 feet through the park, it's a game of wonder.
Fun Fact, from Craig Edwards:
There have been two games in World Series history with 5 plays where win probability changed at least 25%
Game 2, 2017
Game 5, 2017
If you thought Hill stepped off the mound each time Yuli Gurriel came to the plate last night in order to give Dodgers fans more time to boo Gurriel for his racist gesture in Game 3, you are right. Hill said after the game "that was my silent gesture" to condemn Gurriel's actions.

Astros Game 7 starter Lance McCullers began warming up as soon as Game 6 ended.

Fox/Smoltz Note: In Game 6, Dodger pitcher Tony Watson had a 2-1 count on Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth inning. His next pitch was over the plate and low, but clearly within the strike zone. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called it a ball. Fox's John Smoltz started to say the umpire blew the call, but stopped. He probably realized he should not say that on the air. Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes had failed to catch the ball smoothly, so Smoltz jumped on that, saying that Iassogna made his call because the pitch "was not presented as a strike". There is absolutely nothing in the rule book about how pitches should be "presented" to the umpire. It doesn't matter if the pitch drills the ump in the nuts: if it passes over the plate within the strike zone, it's a strike. ... Have you ever been at a game and overheard some idiot behind you manplaining the game to his date and uttering the most ridiculous (and obviously wrong) things? Have you ever wondered where that guy could have picked up such silly ideas about how baseball works? Well, wonder no more.

Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated has a lengthy article about David Ortiz's transition from the diamond to the TV studio and his relationship with fellow analyst Alex Rodriguez.


Jere said...

I tweeted about the "presented as a strike" bullshit. How could he not at least explain to the audience that this isn't actually a rule, but apparently IS how umpires think and that that's utterly ridiculous?

Jere said...

About the HR4HR campaign. I already knew that the phone company behind it is obviously most concerned with their own bottom line under the guise of hurricane relief. But what I didn't realize is that the hashtag was bought by the company. Meaning any time anyone types those letters into a tweet, the company's logo automatically appears next to it. And it's UNDELETABLE. I'm so pissed that they don't tell you this. They say to tweet out the hashtag and $2 goes to hurricane relief. Without saying that you'll also be giving them advertising whether you like it or not.

Paul Hickman said...

HR ......

Home Runs
Hurricane Relief
Houston Romps !!!!!!!!

At the risk of being a cliche - you could say it was obviously meant to be .......

Well Done to the Dodgers for a great season
Congrats to the Astros for finally winning it all

Let's hope Alex Cora can keep a pocketful of the Magic Dust & bring it North over the Winter ?

Cheers to All
See you in April !

David Cho said...

2015: Eliminated in NLDS
2016: Eliminated in NLCS
2017: Eliminated in WS. Game 7!
2018: ????

That is how I look at it. Good night and Go Dodgers!

David Cho said...

I know fans are really upset with Darvish, and they have every reason to be. But he was phenomenal in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and without him, I am not sure if we would have made it to the WS. He did everything to earn his place on the WS roster.

Also his gracious response to Gurriel's racially insensitive gesture should be noted.

laura k said...

They should not be upset with Darvish. You can be sure he didn't want to give up those runs. He did all he could do.

It's a team sport. Darvish didn't cause the Dodgers to leave a whole platoon of men on base.

Darvish's compassionate response to Gurriel's racism was amazing. I mean truly amazing. He can hold his head high.

laura k said...

Jere, seriously, did you think Giant Telecom Company only cared about hurricane relief??

allan said...

News story: "The 2014 Sports Illustrated cover predicting that the Houston Astros would win the 2017 World Series has apparently turned into a serious collectors item. Over the past two days, full copies of the magazine, published on June 30, 2014, have sold on eBay auctions for as much as $1,025 each, with an average price of $280."

David Cho said...

I tried not to read the papers, but the ones I saw from the LA media are really harsh on Darvish and Roberts. It's as though the team didn't even make the playoffs. What is this all or nothing nonsense.

wallythe24 said...

Thanks for another season of entertainment , amusement and education.
Keep that pencil sharp 'til spring training.

Jere said...

"Jere, seriously, did you think Giant Telecom Company only cared about hurricane relief??"

My second sentence covers this topic ;)

allan said...

I tried not to read the papers, but the ones I saw from the LA media are really harsh on Darvish and Roberts. It's as though the team didn't even make the playoffs. What is this all or nothing nonsense.

It's best to find a few websites you like and trust and just stick with those. Most of the mainstream newspapers are going to suck, I think.

allan said...

Thanks for another season of entertainment , amusement and education.
Keep that pencil sharp 'til spring training.

Thanks. I enjoyed myself this year, more than in '15 and '16, I'd say.

I probably complained about NESN too much, but that's the way it goes!!

(And they deserve it.)

laura k said...

My second sentence covers this topic ;)

Yup, I read that. That's why I'm surprised by what appears to be your surprise. :)

laura k said...

the LA media are really harsh on Darvish and Roberts

Mainstream sport media -- best avoided.