In a city known for its unforgettable endings, what do the Dodgers and Astros have prepared for their final act in Hollywood?
Like most silver screen epics, this year’s World Series has been an up and down roller coaster that has left even the biggest critics of baseball’s archaic rules and game play awestruck. It’s only fitting that it ends in a winner-take-all Game 7.
Game 5: As told by George Springer pic.twitter.com/LGW8RUBnmU
— ESPN (@espn) October 30, 2017
This will be the 39th time a World Series championship will be decided in the game’s final stanza. One doesn’t have to jog the memory too far to remember the last (last year), but the battle for the greatest World Series doesn’t happen without a Game Seven.
Unlike the other major sports’ biggest game, what separates Major League Baseball is the in-game chess match. In football and basketball, the players’ minutes do not fluctuate. The game plan might, but you know who will be in the game for the pivotal moments.
So many questionable moments in baseball. Who starts both on the mound and at the plate? When do you go to your bullpen? When do you pinch hit? These are the questions that will be rattling the brains of the respective managers.
Astros-Dodgers will be the first WS Game 7 between 100-win teams since 1931, when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia A's.
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) November 1, 2017
So far this series, it has been two different tales; Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts over-managing and Houston’s firepower. The two connected by Roberts’ over-reliance on a bullpen that has been callously overused.
This game will be no different. All signs point to Roberts starting Game 3 loser Yu Darvish. It would not be out of the realm of possibilities for Darvish to get pulled at the first sign of danger for any one of the other 11 pitchers on the Dodgers World Series roster. Ace Clayton Kershaw, Game 4 stud Alex Wood, even Game 6 starter Rich Hill will all be ready to go. That doesn’t include an embarrassment of riches in relievers that has led Los Angeles to own the best bullpen in the regular season and produce 28 straight scoreless innings in the postseason. How Roberts manages the bullpen will be the biggest question going into tonight’s game.
On the other side, Houston has been counter punching all series. The Astros lineup that finished at the top of baseball in almost every offensive category has landed haymaker after haymaker on every mistake the Dodgers pitching staff and Roberts had made. Houston has knocked 14 dingers this series — tying a the 2002 Giants for most all-time, with George Springer responsible for four of them, a record as well.
We’re here because the Dodgers battled back from a dominating performance from Justin Verlander in Game 6. Scoring two runs in the sixth off the Houston mid-season pick up. Joc Pederson added an insurance home run an inning later, his third of the Fall Classic. Pederson’s resurgence is a microcosm for the series. He hit only two home runs in 99 at-bats after the All-Star break.
Kenley Jansen would record six straight outs and three strike outs in the last two innings to extend the series. Roberts before the game said Jansen was only available for one inning. Brilliant gamesmanship by Roberts or just another example of Roberts’ malpractice of an unhittable force before this series.
As the Los Angeles manager walked up to the podium after the win, former Dodgers skipper, Tommy Lasorda pulled him aside.
“Remember, it doesn’t mean s— unless you win Game 7.”
Lasorda knows, in Hollywood, a story is nothing without a big finish.