The long journey that is the Major League Baseball season has landed us with a Fall Classic that features teams with two of the best records in baseball. It seemed sure to provide some classic moments. Little did we know that those moments would come fast and furious in the first two games of the series.
Clayton Kershaw Joins Elite Dodgers Company
The Dodgers ace has been the best pitcher in baseball for most of his career, at least during the regular season. But he seemed to carry with him a perception of not getting it done in the postseason heading into this year. While he quieted many critics with his performances in the division and championship series, there were some folks were still waiting for him to shine bright when the lights are the brightest. He did that and more when he took the hill for Game 1 of the World Series.
Kershaw threw seven innings of one-hit, one-run baseball, striking out 11 Astros in the process, on the way to a 3-1 Dodgers win. His stuff was virtually unhittable all night long.
The 11 strikeouts are the most for a Dodgers starter in a World Series game since the great Sandy Koufax in 1965. Kershaw was already a historically great pitcher prior to this postseason, but now, with a 3-0 record and 2.49 ERA in his four starts this October, he’s leaving no doubt that he’s among the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen.
Verlander’s Houston Unbeaten Streak Stays Alive… Barely
After the Dodgers took Game One, the Astros sent Justin Verlander to the mound looking to even the series. Since joining the ‘Stros in August, Verlander has compiled a 9-0 record, with a minuscule 1.23 ERA, across 58.2 innings, in his regular-season and postseason starts with the team. Through the first four innings, it looked like he may keep that unbeaten record intact. In the fifth and sixth, things unraveled a bit.
Those two homers put the Astors behind 3-1, as Verlander exited the game after six innings, leaving his unbeaten streak in jeopardy. The Dodgers bullpen was cruising until the eighth inning, when the Astros bats woke up and hit four homers over the final four innings to give them a 7-6 win and take Verlander off the hook for the loss. He remains unbeaten in an Astros uniform, barely.
World Series Records Fall
We started to touch on it in the paragraph above, but the final four innings of this game were nuts. After Carlos Correa’s RBI single brought the Astros to within one at 3-2 in the top of the eighth inning, seven of the game’s next eight runs came via home run. Six home runs were hit in the ninth inning or later, which is a World Series record, and the eight total home runs in the game also checks in as a record. The following players all hit long balls in the final four innings, with the inning in parentheses next to it.
- Marwin Gonzalez solo HR (9th)
- Jose Altuve solo HR (10th)
- Carlos Correa solo HR (10th)
- Yasiel Puig solo HR (10th)
- George Springer 2-run HR (11th)
- Charlie Culberson solo HR (11th)
Oh, and also, the five extra-innings home runs is a World Series record. Insanity. Sheer insanity.
Cameron Maybin Earns Everyone a Free Taco!
One of the best parts of the World Series the past several years has been the Taco Bell “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion. Basically, if anyone steals a base in the World Series, Taco Bell gives away free tacos during a certain time period the following week. This year’s Taco Bell hero? Astros outfielder Cameron Maybin, who stole second in the top of the 11th inning, just prior to George Springer’s dinger to make it a 7-5 game.
Maybin of course, chimed in on social media after the game.
You’re welcome, America.
Dodgers Bullpen’s Scoreless Streak Ends
Prior to the scoring bonanza at the end of the game last night, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen had been dominating the postseason. The army of arms that manager Dave Roberts has used extensively this postseason came into the series with a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 23. After two perfect innings in Tuesday night’s Game 1, that number reached 25. With three more scoreless innings in relief of Rich Hill, the relievers pushed it all the way up to 28, before an Alex Bregman double was followed up by a Carlos Correa single to score him and end the remarkable run. Yes, the Dodgers bullpen will get some of the blame for faltering in Game 2. But don’t forget their incredible run in the postseason up to that point.