The Los Angeles Dodgers assured us of having November baseball.
What has evolved into one of the most exciting World Series of all time, the Dodgers cobbled together a strong pitching performance Tuesday night to outlast the Houston Astros 3-1 to force a Game 7 on the first of November.
The Fall Classic winner will be determined while other parts of the nation feel like they’re in the deep freeze.
This has been an amazing Series. There have been numerous twists and turns, plots and subplots and good pitching alternating with what looks like little more than batting practice with hopped-up baseballs.
None of the games has had a shortage of excitement. Nothing, of course, will top that wild-and-crazy epic Game 5 when the Astros time and again got off the deck for a 13-12 victory when it repeatedly appeared the Dodgers had it won. Who would ever have thought that Clayton Kershaw, this era’s Sandy Koufax, would cough up leads of 4-0 and 7-4?
Don’t count out Kershaw impacting tonight’s winner-take-all game. While he pitched in Game 5, it’s all hands on deck. You have all winter to rest.
The starters are Yu Darvish for the Dodgers and Lance McCullers Jr., for the Astros, but don’t expect either to be in the game after the fifth inning. At the first hint of trouble, managers Dave Roberts of the Dodgers and A.J. Hinch of the Astros will try and find a reliever that’s not out of gas as both bullpens have been taxed beyond fumes.
In a Game 7, there’s often an unsung hero. Somebody who has been only a blip on the radar so far could be the star, like Chase Utley for the Dodgers or Francisco Liriano out of the bullpen for the Astros. Both benches are like to empty at game’s end.
It’s probably asking too much that we have a Game 7 like last year when the Chicago Cubs won their improbable first World Series since 1908. That was a Game 7 for the ages, but the way Los Angeles and Houston have been churning out instant classics, this one might go deep into the night.
What would be most disappointing is if it turns out to be a dud, say a 10-1 win. I just can’t see that happening given the direction of the first six games. That would be like the 1967 World Series when Boston and St. Louis pounded away at each other for six scintillating games before Bob Gibson won Game 7 in a snoozer.
I have no idea who’s going to win. The smart money is generally on the home team because it’s hard for the road team to get those final three outs. I still like the Dodgers, but remember that 2014 Sports Illustrated cover that noted the Astros would be the 2017 World Champions, which at the time was an incredulous thought since they were awful with three straight 100-loss season.
What poetic justice that would be. The Sports Illustrated cover jinx working in reverse.