2017-10-30 03:39:03
Astros 13, Dodgers 12, 10 innings | Houston leads series, 3-2: Astros Down the Dodgers in a Dramatic and Dizzying Slugfest

03:39, October 30 243 0

HOUSTON — In their run through the postseason, the dynamic Houston Astros have flashed lockdown starting pitching, game-changing defense and the type of raw power that invites bat flips.

On Sunday night, they flaunted something else — the resilience of a champion.

The Astros clawed from behind three times against the Los Angeles Dodgers — twice against the ace Clayton Kershaw — and finally prevailed in the bottom of the 10th inning when Alex Bregman’s two-out single scored pinch-runner Derek Fisher to deliver an epic 13-12 victory in Game 5 of the World Series.

After Fisher slid home safely, well ahead of the throw from Dodgers left fielder Andre Ethier, the Astros poured out of the dugout to mob Bregman, who had lined the first pitch he saw from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen into shallow left field for the winning hit.

Bregman’s hit came after Jansen had hit Brian McCann with a pitch — just after McCann had hit a deep fly ball that drifted foul — and then walked Springer to put runners at first and second.

The mind-boggling victory, in a game that lasted 5 hours 17 minutes and featured seven home runs, sent the Astros back to Los Angeles with a three-games-to-two lead in the Series with Game 6 scheduled for Tuesday night. The Astros will turn to Justin Verlander, who has a long track record of October excellence. If he can best the Dodgers, who will start Rich Hill, the Astros will claim their first championship in their 55-year history.

For a good part of Game 5, it seemed that Verlander’s task would be to keep the Astros’ season alive. But each time they found themselves trailing in the game, they fought their way back.

The Astros first rallied from a 4-1 deficit when Yuli Gurriel belted a three-run homer off Kershaw in the fourth inning. They scrambled back from a 7-4 deficit when Jose Altuve blasted a three-run homer off reliever Kenta Maeda. And they scratched back from an 8-7 deficit when George Springer — whose gaffe in center field had let the Dodgers go ahead in the top of the seventh — led off the bottom of the inning by hammering a fastball from Brandon Morrow over the wall.

Bregman followed Springer’s home run with a sharp single and Altuve followed that with a drive into the left-center gap that cleared the glove of left fielder Joc Pederson, chasing Bregman home to put the Astros ahead for the first time, 9-8.

With the crowd still on its feet, Carlos Correa hit a towering fly ball to left that seemed to scrape the roof of the ballpark, the type of ball that would be a home run in an elevator shaft — or, as it turns out, Minute Maid Park.

As Pederson drifted to the wall and camped under the ball, it landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes — the left-field seats that abut Crawford Avenue outside the ballpark. When the ball settled in the stands, Correa — who had stopped near first base — pounded his chest and pointed to his teammates in the first-base dugout as the orange-clad crowd erupted again.

In a span of six pitches, the Astros had gone from trailing by a run to seizing an 11-8 lead. Of course, with the state of the Astros’ bullpen, it would not be enough.

In the top of the eighth, Pederson greeted Brad Peacock with a one-out double and Peacock then hit Chris Taylor with a pitch. Will Harris took over for Peacock and gave up a double to Corey Seager, scoring Pederson and cutting the deficit to 11-9. But Harris retired Justin Turner on a sharp liner to right fielder Josh Reddick and Chris Devenski retired Ethier, pinch-hitting for Enrique Hernandez, on a grounder to keep the Dodgers at bay.

McCann then restored the Astros’ three-run advantage with a solo homer in the eighth off Tony Cingrani — home run No. 6 of the night. Then came No. 7, in the top of the ninth, a two-run blast by Yasiel Puig off Devenski.

It was the 22nd home run of the Series, breaking the previous record set in 2002 by the San Francisco Giants and Anaheim Angels. But that Series went seven games, and in this instance the Dodgers and Astros still weren’t done with the fifth.

Austin Barnes followed Puig’s homer with a double and advanced to third on Pederson’s groundout. The Astros needed one more out for a 12-11 victory but Taylor hit a two-out single up the middle to tie the score at 12-12. The game had now become an exhilarating and exhausting battle.

The Astros threatened in the bottom of the ninth when Gurriel doubled with two out off the left-field wall — missing a game-ending home run by about 10 feet — against Jansen. But Reddick flew out and the game went into extra innings.

In a World Series that has come to be defined by the unpredictable and unexpected, it was only fitting that one night after a lights-out pitchers’ duel between the heretofore unremarkable Alex Wood and Charlie Morton, a slugfest would unfold that sent Cy Young Award winners Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel to early exits.

Kershaw, who has a mixed record in the postseason, had finished off the defending champion Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series earlier this month and had been dominant in Game 1 of the Series. But given a 4-0 lead on Sunday night, he could not hold it.

First, Springer led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk. Altuve then added a one-out single and Correa followed by lining a double down the left-field line that drew the Astros within 4-1. That brought up Gurriel, whose racist gesture — pulling his the skin around his eyes wide to mock the Dodgers’ Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish after homering off him in Game 3 — brought a torrent of outrage and drew a five-game suspension for the start of next season.

Gurriel clubbed the first pitch he saw from Kershaw — a slider on the inner half of the plate – far above the left-field wall.

Stunningly, against the seemingly indomitable Kershaw, the Astros had tied the score at 4-4.

Gurriel took his time circling the bases, soaking in the cheers. When he crossed the plate he was met by an exultant Correa and Altuve and then was mobbed when he descended into the dugout. When he took the field the next inning, the boisterous crowd chanted “Yuuu.”

It will surely be the last welcoming reception Gurriel receives in the Series, as he will now have to deal with far less sympathetic fans in Los Angeles.

After Gurriel’s blast, the Dodgers regained the lead when Bellinger belted a three-run homer off Collin McHugh in the fifth. But the Astros drove Kershaw from the game in the bottom of the inning after Springer and Bregman drew two-out walks. Bregman was particularly taxing for Kershaw, who was forced to throw 23 pitches in three at-bats.

Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts turned to Maeda, who had been infallible in the postseason. But after throwing Altuve six consecutive sliders, he finally threw him a fastball and Altuve crushed it — sending it into the balcony above the 404-foot sign in center field.

The game was tied again, at 7-7.

The Dodgers surged back in front when Springer misplayed Bellinger’s liner, diving and missing it, which allowed Hernandez to race home from first. It seemed to be a devastating blow for the Astros, coming as it did after their defense had been so stellar throughout the playoffs.

But on this night, there seemed to be no obstacle too difficult for them to overcome, and now they are one victory from what they have never had — a title.