Not sure how many people out there stayed awake for the entirety of Game 5, but if you fell asleep then you probably missed the greatest baseball game ever played. Considering the stakes of game 5 of a 2-2 World Series, combined with a back and forth extra inning ball-game that featured both teams scoring more runs than the San Francisco 49ers did, I don’t think anything has topped it.
Game 5 had the makings of an epic pitchers duel. Both starting rotations have been good throughout the series, limiting the two high powered offenses for the most part in games 1-4. Clayton Kershaw vs Dallas Kuechel was supposed to be even better. Then came the top of the first, where Dallas Kuechel just never had his stuff. He loaded the bases and went on to give up 3 runs in the inning. Another run in the third, and the Dodgers appeared to have plenty of cushion for the best pitcher in the game to work with. Or so they thought.
Kershaw reverted back to his mediocre post season ways in the bottom of the 4th, giving up a 3 run jack to the 33 Year Old rookie Yuli Gurriel. And then it was on. In the top of the 5th, Kershaw was gifted another 3 run lead thanks to a Cody Bellinger blast, and he couldn’t hold onto that either. After giving up a couple of base runners in the bottom of the inning, Dave Roberts made the genius move to pull his ace with one of the best hitters in the game coming to the dish. Jose Altuve promptly hit one to the moon off of Kenta Maeda, and the game was tied up again. Clearly pulling Kershaw didn’t work out, but I think it was a stupid move to begin with. You have the best pitcher in the game, postseason struggles or not, that you have limited all postseason in preparation for this situation, and you yank him with the Astros best hitter coming up. And it is not like you are loaded in your bullpen either. Maeda had far less of a chance to retire Altuve then Kershaw did, any other reasoning to me is overthinking it.
The game stayed knotted at 7 for an inning, until Bellinger struck again with a run scoring triple on a misplayed ball by Astros CF George Springer. Springer, who has played a great CF playoffs, laid out on a ball he had no chance on, only for it to roll all the way to the fence allowing Enrique Hernandez to score from first. As if Springer wasn’t going to make up for his mistake. He stepped into the box in the bottom of the inning, and launched one onto the tracks miles over the left field wall. The inning continued with an RBI double from Altuve, and a 2 run dinger by Carlos Correa and this time it was the Astros who had a 3 run lead.
The Dodgers wouldn’t go away and Corey Segar got one back in the top of the 8th, until the shaky dodger bullpen let it get back to 3 runs after a Brian McCan solo job in the bottom half. With a 3 run lead heading into the 9th, the Astros would turn to their new closer of one day, Chris Devenski. That move didn’t go so well for AJ Hinch. A Yasiel Puig 2 run shot and a Chris Taylor RBI single tied the game once again, and we would play extra baseball.
Of course with Kuechel and Kershaw on the mount to start, we would have a 12-12 game with both teams relying on their equally unreliable bullpens. The Dodgers definitely have the slightly better Pen, led by stud closer Kenley Jansen. However, Jansen has never been great at recording more than 3 outs and that ultimately proved costly and to be the deciding factor in this one. In the bottom of the 10th, Astros 3rd Baseman Alex Bregman ripped a double into Left scoring pinch runner Derek Fisher and that was that.
A 13-12 extra inning ballgame, in Game 5 of the World Series… This was a complete blown opportunity for the Dodgers, even though they still get to head home for games 6-7. With Kershaw on the hill, a 4 run and then another 3 run lead has to be good enough to win the ballgame. Kershaw couldn’t get it done, and all the credit has to go to the Houston lineup. They have been the best in baseball all year long, and are unbelievable in their home park. Just ask the Yankees. Altuve is the toughest out in the game, and the lineup goes 9 deep. The Stros get the luxury of throwing out Justin Verlander in Game 6 on full rest with the opportunity to win a World Series. It is certainly not over for the Dodgers though, as the Astros have not proven to be the same team away from home. Still, I think Verlander caps off an incredible postseason run, and the Astros get it done in Game 6. What a series this has been, and I would not be surprised nor upset to see it go 7.