For the first time in franchise history, the Houston Astros are World Series champions.
Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Astros earned a 5-1 win (box score) over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Houston led the series 3-2, then lost Game 6 before bouncing back for a win in Game 7. This is the first World Series title for the Astros — they’ve been around since 1962 — and their second pennant.
The game: Pitching for redemption after a miserable outing in Game 3 of the series, Yu Darvish found no glory in Game 7. The right-hander failed to escape the second inning for the second time in as many starts.
George Springer opened the Astros’ first-inning rally with a double down the left-field line. A throwing error by Cody Bellinger scored Springer and put Alex Bregman on second base with no outs. Bregman stole third, then scored on a Jose Altuve groundout to give Houston an early 2-0 lead.
An inning later, after a Lance McCullers groundout scored Brian McCann from third base, Springer hit his fifth home run of the series to end Darvish’s night and put the Astros ahead, 5-0.
McCullers, the Astros’ starter, struggled with his control but worked his way out of trouble in each of the first two innings. The pitcher left with one out in the third and a new all-time record with four hit batsmen in the World Series.
But a series of Houston relievers kept the Dodgers’ offense at bay. Los Angeles got multiple runners on base in the first, second, third and fifth innings but did not score in any. In the sixth, a pinch-hit single for Andre Ethier off Charlie Morton plated the Dodgers’ first run, but Morton struck out Chris Taylor and got a groundout from Corey Seager to end the threat.
Man of the moment: Springer. After batting only .115 in the ALCS against the Yankees and going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the Astros’ Game 1 loss, the 28-year-old outfielder enjoyed a historic World Series. Springer set new World Series records by homering in four consecutive games and tallying 29 total bases in total, and became the third player in big-league history to hit five home runs in a single World Series.
Manager’s special: Given the shaky performance of his bullpen throughout the postseason, A.J. Hinch took a risk when he pulled McCullers with one out in the third. But Hinch got the most out of his available arms in the game, riding two shutout innings from Brad Peacock and largely effective outings from Francisco Liriano, Chris Devenski, Charlie Morton … to finish off Los Angeles.
Needing a mulligan: Though Clayton Kershaw joked after Tuesday night’s game that he was ready to throw “27 innings” in Game 7 if asked, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opted to start Darvish on regular rest over Kershaw on two days’ rest. The choice made plenty of sense on paper: His poor Game 3 start notwithstanding, Darvish is a proven ace who pitched well for Los Angeles after his July 31 trade and flourished in his first two postseason outings.
But after Darvish managed only 1 2/3 lousy innings and Brandon Morrow came on to escape the second, Roberts used Kershaw for four full frames before he left for a pinch hitter in the sixth. Hindsight will always be 20/20 on such decisions, but the outcomes suggest Roberts — who masterfully negotiated his bullpen to get the Dodgers to Game 7 — should have simply allowed Kershaw to open the game. Game 7 might have gone a lot differently had Kershaw’s four shutout innings come at the start of the contest instead of once the Dodgers were already down.
What you missed on TV: The air sucked out of Dodger Stadium by the Astros’ early runs. Though the Los Angeles crowd would get back into the game when the Dodgers threatened offensively and plated their lone run in the sixth, there were even audible chants of “Let’s Go Astros” in the middle innings.