The next time anyone hears a complaint about baseball being too boring or that (gasp!) even the World Series has lost its luster, here's what to do:
Sit the complainers down in front of the nearest screen and put on Game 2 of the 2017 World Series. Then sit back and watch them change their minds in real time.
Although the game was just played Wednesday night—and deep into the night, at that—there's no need to wait for retrospect to conclude that the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers made it one of the greatest World Series games ever.
The fact that the Astros collected a series-tying win by a 7-6 final in 11 innings says enough. To say more, one could posit that getting to that endpoint was a true roller-coaster ride.
Or, one could point to FanGraphs' win expectancy chart for the game, which looks like a blueprint for a literal roller-coaster ride:
Twists? Game 2 had those.
Turns? Yup, those too.
But above all, this game will mainly be remembered for the dingers.
After winning Game 1 on the strength of two home runs, the Dodgers seemed poised to follow the same strategy to victory in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. The Astros struck first on an Alex Bregman RBI single in the top of the third inning. The Dodgers struck back with a Joc Pederson solo homer in the fifth and a Corey Seager two-run homer in the sixth.
In the eighth, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called on Kenley Jansen to carry that momentum to the finish line. This is the same guy who went 41-for-42 in save opportunities in 2017 and who'd converted all 12 of the save chances he'd ever been handed in October.
So, of course he blew it.
Jansen's collapse started with a whimper when Carlos Correa drove in a run on a seeing-eye single up the middle in the eighth inning. Then came a bang in the ninth. Marwin Gonzalez, silent for much of the postseason, finally got off the schneid with a game-tying blast to left-center.
"I told Marwin, before his AB, 'You're going to win this game for us,'" Astros ace Justin Verlander said afterward, according to Joe Trezza of MLB.com. "His home run didn’t win the game...but it did."
To be fair, Cody Bellinger came this close to rendering Gonzalez's home run moot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He went down and got under a Ken Giles fastball enough to send it deep to right field but not quite deep enough to go over the wall. It died in Josh Reddick's glove for the third out.
As if to show Bellinger how it's done, the dynamic Houston duo of Jose Altuve and Correa led off the top of the 10th with back-to-back home runs. Like so:
What appeared to be the exclamation mark at the end of a Houston win, however, turned into a mere ellipsis.
Yasiel Puig led off the bottom of the 10th with a solo homer off Giles that cut the Astros' lead to one. Two batters later, Logan Forsythe worked Giles for a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and then came home with the tying run on a single by Enrique Hernandez.
That put the momentum squarely back in the Dodgers' hands, but they only got to hold on to it for, oh, maybe five minutes.
The top of the 11th began with a Cameron Maybin single off Brandon McCarthy. The next batter was George Springer, who promptly unloaded on a 2-1 breaking ball:
Yet, even this didn't quite put the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Houston skipper A.J. Hinch called on Chris Devenski, who pitched in the All-Star Game back in July, to close things out. In the bottom of the 11th with two out, Charlie Culberson, who had only 15 major league plate appearances in the regular season, stepped to the plate. Naturally, he took Devenski deep to trim the lead to a run.
But that, finally, was it for the scoring. The final pitch of the night—Devenski's 25th and the game's 332nd—was a 3-2 changeup that got Puig to strike out.
The short version is that...well, there really is no short version. In fact, all the above is only a fraction of the story.
What's missing are Game 2's many fascinating tidbits. Here's a selection:
- The eight total homers are a World Series record for a single game.
- The five extra-inning homers are a new record for any postseason game.
- Pederson's homer broke up Verlander's no-hit bid.
- The Astros snapped the Dodgers bullpen's 28-inning scoreless streak, as well as the club's 98-0 record when leading after eight innings.
- Hernandez's 10th-inning single was the Dodgers' first non-homer hit of the game.
- Culberson's homer was his first in the majors since a walk-off on September 25, 2016, which clinched the National League West title and is also the final play called at Dodger Stadium by legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.
Oh yeah, there's also this: The Astros' victory is the first World Series win in franchise history.
Add it all up, and Game 2 of the 2017 World Series boasts enough excitement to match up with the Fall Classic's greatest classics. It doesn't matter whether your jam is Bill Mazeroski in 1960, Carlton Fisk in 1975, Jack Morris in 1991, Luis Gonzalez in 2001, David Freese in 2011 or Rajai Davis and Ben Zobrist in 2016. Game 2 belongs in the same discussion as all of them.
And it's not over, folks. With as many as five games still ahead, the only thing that was truly decided in Game 2 was best summed up by one of the two managers.
"These are two incredible teams that are going to fight," Hinch said, per MLB.com's Richard Justice.
May all their remaining fights become as worthy of the history books as their latest.