LOS ANGELES – Game 2 of the World Series was a three-act play that carried on for 4 hours and 19 glorious minutes and included more home runs than any game in the championship’s 113 incarnations. The first act lasted for nine innings and provided an untouchable pitcher getting touched up. The second act was the 10th inning, a madcap, back-and-forth novella of its own. And the third was the 11th, where the Houston Astros won the first World Series game in franchise history in absolute style.
Their 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers featured a game-tying home run, a go-ahead extra-innings home run, an extraordinary bat-flipping extra-innings home run and another go-ahead extra-innings home run that proved the game winner. And though the Dodgers clawed and fought and invigorated the 54,293 at Dodger Stadium who wanted to see them leave here with a two-games-to-none series lead, the Astros forced a split and will take home-field advantage back to Houston for Game 3.
George Springer’s two-run home run in the 11th inning off Brandon McCarthy, who hadn’t pitched since Oct. 1, provided the winning margin for the Astros, who fought off nine Dodgers pitchers and dropped six runs on a Los Angeles bullpen that hadn’t allowed any over its previous 28 innings. The drip-drop started in the eighth inning, when Houston cobbled together a run, and then in the ninth, Marwin Gonzalez homered off the Dodgers’ indomitable closer, Kenley Jansen, to tie the game at 3. In the bottom of the 10th, Jose Altuve led off with a home run, and Carlos Correa followed with another, flipping his bat 25 feet in the air.
It was far from over. Yasiel Puig hammered a home run off Astros closer Ken Giles, who with two outs walked Logan Forsythe, allowed him to advance to second on a wild pitch and let him score on a Kiké Hernandez single into right field. Forsythe slid around a Brian McCann tag after a laser of a throw from Josh Reddick, and the game was tied at 5.
Cameron Maybin led off the 11th with a walk, stole second base and that’s when Springer followed with an opposite field shot. But that didn’t end the scoring.
Charlie Culberson, a Dodgers backup who entered the game as manager Dave Roberts emptied his bench, homered off Chris Devenski, the eighth of the game, with two outs in the bottom of the 11th. Up stepped Puig, who worked a nine-pitch at-bat that ended with a strikeout on a changeup.
What looked like a surefire Los Angeles win wound to a wild conclusion. The Dodgers entered the game 98-0 when holding a lead after the eighth. Gonzalez’s home run was the first to tie a World Series game on the road in 42 years, and Altuve and Correa were the first ever to go back to back in extra innings of a World Series game, and they weren’t even the biggest homers in a game defined by them, as four of the Dodgers’ five hits left the ballpark – and nearly won them the game.
Jansen, so unhittable, allowed a home run to Gonzalez and gave the Astros life as they return home to face Yu Darvish, with Lance McCullers Jr., whose four sparkling innings cinched the American League pennant.
Houston’s night looked fortuitous early, with Verlander flashing the top-notch stuff that earned him ALCS MVP and the Astros’ lineup cobbling together three third-inning hits to score a run off Dodgers starter Rich Hill. Los Angeles pulled Hill after the fourth inning, wary of Houston’s lineup facing him a third time, though it wouldn’t matter much if the Dodgers couldn’t touch Verlander.
In the fifth, they finally did. Joc Pederson, who lost his center field job and had been to the plate only six times all postseason, took a hanging slider from Verlander over the right-field fence for the first hit he surrendered in the game. With the score 1-1, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts mixed and matched relievers. Houston stuck with Verlander the next inning, and after inducing a pair of flyball outs, he issued a six-pitch walk to Chris Taylor, bringing up Seager, who promptly launched a shot over the left-field wall.
Before he left the batter’s box, Seager screamed: “Yeah!” He tucked his head and followed with a “Woo!” By the time he reached first base, the Dodgers held the lead, and by the time he reached second, the stadium was shaking, and by the time he reached third, Verlander was lamenting the pitch he’d thrown, and by the time he reached home, the Dodgers were feeling a two-games-to-none lead.
Seager, the Dodgers’ 23-year-old star shortstop who missed the National League Championship Series with a back injury, had moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, a fortuitous shift that helped the Dodgers mimic their Game 1 victory. The scenarios preceding the home runs were almost identical: In a 1-1 game, with the Astros’ starting pitcher going through Los Angeles’ lineup for the third time, leadoff hitter Chris Taylor drew a two-out walk and set the stage for a home run on a 1-2 count from the second hitter. In Game 1, it was Justin Turner. Seager provided the damage Wednesday, before the Dodgers’ bullpen broke.
Of all the joyous reactions throughout the stands, and even on the field, perhaps none was as purely blissful as that of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who thrust his arms skyward, closed his eyes, leaned back his head and unfurled a smile of simultaneous relief, joy and amusement. Those feelings would relent in the eighth inning, when reliever Brandon Morrow allowed a double and Carlos Correa chopped an RBI single off Jansen, ending the Dodgers bullpen’s scoreless streak and starting this game down a wild path that finally ended with an epic Astros win.
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