Series tied, two aces going toe-to-toe and surely we were in store for another smooth, crisp pitcher’s duel like Game 1. Not so fast my friend, what we witnessed last night was quite frankly the greatest and most entertaining baseball game ever played. Game 2 was phenomenal, but it was topped last night in Game 5. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros fed off the emotion of the crowd and heat of the competition. These two teams are so evenly matched that they take every opportunity to one-up their counterparts.
Both starting pitchers were chased from the game before they could even complete five innings. Dallas Keuchel went 3.2 innings, allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) while striking out four and walking two. Meanwhile the best pitcher in baseball was spotted a 4-0 and 7-4 lead respectively, and found a way to blow both leads and let Houston right back into the ballgame. Clayton Kershaw went 4.2 innings allowing four hits and six runs on three walks and two strikeouts. The narrative lives on for the Dodgers ace as he had a chance to put this game away twice and send L.A. back home with a 3-2 series lead. Now, he’s allowed a whopping 8 home runs this postseason and couldn’t win the big one yet again.
Yuli Guriel tied the game at 4 for Houston in the 4th inning when he sent Minute Maid Park into a frenzy after the three-run homer off Kershaw. The Astros and Colin McHugh would give the game right back to Cody Bellinger who would hit a three-run home run. After starting the series 0-for-13, the Dodgers rookie first baseman has been an impossible out and an extra bases machine coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit. Jose Altuve would then re-tie the game in the bottom of the 5th with a three-run homer off Kenta Maeda who came in to replace Kershaw with two on and two down.
Now in the 7th inning, all locked at 7 and the star from Game 3 for Houston is in the game. Brad Peacock was filthy in a remarkable 11-out save performance so surely Manager A.J. Hinch would turn to him again to keep it tied up and give his bats a chance. That was all fine and well until Peacock ran into the red-hot Bellinger who put the Dodgers back in front with an RBI triple. Peacock, another pitcher who had success so far in this series, struggled. Let’s see if that storyline continued to hold true in the bottom half.
Now with an 8-7 lead in the 7th, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts needed a steady reliever to come in and bridge the gap to his high-powered closer. Roberts turned to Brandon Morrow who has been electric all postseason long and his stuff has been filthy. Joe Buck called his shot in the broadcast repeatedly mentioning that the veteran Morrow had never worked in three straight games in his career. Morrow has been often-used this October and perhaps the wear-and-tear of these high-leverage uses finally did-him-in during the 7th inning of Game 5. First pitch was a fastball with no life middle-in that George Springer hit about as far as you can to left tying the ballgame at 8. Jose Altuve would then double after Alex Bregman singled giving Houston the 9-8 lead. While Roberts was just trying to get his next reliever warmed up, it was gone in the blink of an eye as Carlos Correa demolished another pitch from Morrow with no life and in just six pitches out of the bullpen it went from 8-7 Dodgers to an 11-8 Astros lead.
Keep in mind now that the home run from Correa was already the 20th of the series, one shy of the record from the 2002 World Series. Now Hinch has a three-run lead with five outs left to get so he turns to one of his most steady relievers over the last few years in Will Harris. Harris would surrender an RBI double to Dodgers short stop Corey Seager making it an 11-9 game before Chris Devenski came in and got Houston out of the inning with the two-run lead still intact getting pinch-hitter Andre Ethier to ground out to first.
Brian McCann would then add to the Astros lead with the 21st homer of the series, tying the record, and making it a three-run Houston lead at 12-9. That’s gotta be enough, right? NOT SO FAST, my friend. Devesnki still in the game, surrenders a line-drive two-run homer to Yasiel Puig in the top of the 9th making it a 12-11 ballgame. Exhale. Up to the dish comes Chris Taylor and with his back against the wall, he delivered for the Dodgers like he has all year long. With two outs and two strikes, Taylor got the end of his bat on the Devenski pitch and was able to muscle it back up the middle to tie the game scoring Austin Barnes with a single.
Astros had a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the 9th after a Guriel two-out double off the highest peak of the ballpark in left-center, any other spot and that’s likely a game-winning home run. Josh Reddick would then fly out to left ending the Astros bid for a game-winner in the 9th off Kenley Jansen and sending battle between these two teams to extra innings to decide a victor.
After Joe Musgrove came in and threw a scoreless top of the 10th, a rare scoreless half inning in a game of this magnitude, it was up to the Houston bats to end this one. Brian McCann nearly ended to game with a long fly ball that just went foul in right. He was drilled with the next pitch by Jansen putting the winning-run on base. Springer would work out a walk sending the winning run to scoring position and Hinch would replace McCann with Derek Fisher on the base paths. It was the 23-year-old Alex Bregman who stepped up to the plate with two on and two down. Bregman took a cutter from Jansen that was low-and-away and deposited it in left field out of the grasp of Seager at short and sent Houston into bedlam as Fisher rounded third and scored the game-winning run.
A very emotional Bregman was then interviewed by the great Ken Rosenthal and asked what he will remember most about this game, “I remember we went down four-to-nothing early, me, Altuve, Correa, Yuli, were standing behind the mound and said, our backs are against the wall right here. Why not have fun and play loose? Springer came in the dugout, why not play loose? That was the mindset.”
The Astros are now up 3-2 as the World Series heads back to Los Angeles. Justin Verlander going in Game 6, dare I say that Houston is in the catbird seat to win a championship. This series has been epic, I’m a little upset that it’s almost over. Game 5 was incredible and one of the most entertaining games of baseball that has ever been played.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank