Wasn't that a crazy game Sunday night? The Houston Astros took a three-games-to-two lead in the World Series by beating the Dodgers 13-12 in ten innings in Game Five—a rematch of game one that was a pitcher's duel. If you think that was the craziest game in World Series history, the second craziest was probably Game Two. That one was 7-6 in 11 innings, and the Dodgers lost that one, too. Blame the manager? You could.
In a game that took 5 hours and 17 minutes, saw a combined 25 runs, 28 hits, 2 errors, and 36 players, it's pretty easy to play 'what if'. You can also play several rounds of 'he shouldn't have done that' with either manager. However, every game seems to have a defining moment, and for the Dodgers on Sunday, it came in the seventh inning. After the Dodgers blew leads of 4-0 and 7-4, and now leading 8-7, moments after a sellout Houston crowd of 48,300 finished singing God Bless America and Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts put a tired Brandon Morrow in to pitch. This was the Dodgers' 13th playoff game, and Morrow had pitched in 11 of the previous 12. Roberts said before the game that he preferred not to use Morrow, but with ace Clayton Kershaw unable to get through five innings, Kenta Maeda giving up a three-run blast, and a warm, but apparently not trustworthy Ross Stripling throwing in the bullpen earlier, in came Morrow.
Granted it was a gamble, and sure, it had risk. You can't begrudge Roberts for going with the guys who got him there. First pitch from Morrow to George Springer? Hit up onto the train tracks beyond left field. The game is tied 8-8. So the gamble didn't pay off. Get Morrow out of there and move on. Roberts has set records for making pitching changes, and would probably take his own mother out if she was three strikes away from a perfect game. What? Roberts leaves Morrow in.
Next pitch? Alex Bregman singles. Jose Altuve took a strike, then after a pickoff attempt on Bregman at first, Altuve doubles him home to put Houston in front 9-8. Now might be a good time to get Morrow out of there. No? Really? In steps Carlos Correa. The first pitch to him skips past the catcher for a wild pitch, and Altuve moves to third. 1-0 to Correa. Morrow delivers. Correa swings and hits a high fly ball down the left field line. Way up there. It's back, it's back, it's gone. Houston leads 11-8, and finally, that will be all for Brandon Morrow.
The Dodgers would tie it 12-12 in the ninth, but closer Kenley Jansen, unfairly asked to get six outs for the second time in the series, couldn't do it. Bregman singled home the winning run and Houston goes ahead in the series.
In Game Two, Roberts could (and should) be criticized for taking a pitcher (starter Rich Hill) out of the game too early. Sunday, he stays with Morrow too long. Again, you can find several plays here and there that could have gone differently. Game two, however, was clearly on Roberts. Not only did he go to his bullpen when Hill was only trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning, but in a game that ended up going 11, he used 22 of his 25 players. In Game Two, the only Dodgers who didn't get in were the previous night's starting pitcher (Kershaw), the Game Three starter (Yu Darvish), and the Game Four starter (Alex Wood). Roberts double-switched his way to an empty bench and a bullpen with only two guys who he doesn't trust (Josh Fields and Brandon McCarthy). Both gave up runs and the Dodgers lost the game.
It's not all on Roberts, though. The two wins have been fantastic, and the Dodgers were just outplayed in Game Three. But now it's back to LA. Hill versus Verlander in Game Six, and maybe a thrilling game seven. Win or lose for the Dodgers, this series deserves to go the distance. The dugout seat for the manager might be a little hot, though.
Yu forgives Yuli: No one seems to know why he did it, but Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel made an “anti-Asian gesture” toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish after hitting a home run off of him Friday night. He also called him a 'chinito” to his teammates, which means “Chinese boy” in Spanish and is considered a slur to those from Japan. For some reason, mlb.com wouldn't report what the gesture was, but other outlets correctly reported that Gurriel held his fingers to the corner of his eyes. Gurriel was suspended without pay for the first five games of next year by MLB, but will not miss any World Series time. It would be unheard of in this day and age, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch could have written Gurriel out of the starting lineup for game four, but kept him available off the bench. Darvish, through a translator, said he was angry, but hoped that Gurriel would learn from the mistake, and put it behind him.
L' Chaim: The Philadelphia Phillies today announced former Dodger executive Gabe Kapler as their new manager, and one of the very few Jewish managers in Major League history. According to forward.com, when the Detroit Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to be their skipper in 2014, he became the sixth all time (Lipman Pike (in 1844), Lou Boudreau, Norm Sherry, current A's manager Bob Melvin, Jeff Newman, and Ausmus). Unless we missed one in between, Kapler is number seven. Mazel tov.
By the numbers: In the post-season, opponents are only batting .184 against Clayton Kershaw, but the ace has given up 8 home runs and has an ERA of 4.34. The only Dodger who has a worse earned run average, and has pitched more than one inning, is Brandon Morrow (4.38), which includes allowing 4 runs in 6 pitches Sunday... The 8 homers by Kershaw means 42 percent of the hits he's allowed in the playoffs (8 out of 19) have left the yard... Of the 12 Dodger pitchers used in the playoffs (13 games), only two have not allowed a home run. They are Ross Stripling and Tony Watson. Stripling, whom Roberts wouldn't use in favor of an exhausted Brandon Morrow, is the only Dodger pitcher who hasn't allowed a post-season run... On the hitting side, Yasiel Puig (.300) is the team's best hitter with a minimum of 33 at-bats.. Cody Bellinger has struck out 22 times. No other Dodger hitter is in double digits (Corey Seager and Austin Barnes each with 9 Ks, four others have 8).
Pool play: It seems not paying attention to NFL football is the best way to win big. The administrator of our football pool at work wouldn't confirm it, but rumor has it around the station that I had a perfect week, with Kansas City winning tonight (I think I should automatically get like $100, but it will be more like 18). I've still won twice in three weeks. In the survival pool, Cincinnati barely beat Indianapolis, but I move on. In a bold move, and with Carolina, New England, Green Bay, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, and Cincinnati off the table, I'm taking the Rams at the NY Giants Sunday.