LOS ANGELES — First things first: Game 2 of the World Series was an incredible spectacle from start to finish, even if the Dodgers blew a chance to take a stranglehold on the series.
From the wonderful open-mic Vin Scully first pitch ceremony through to the very end, this game just about had it all. There were eight home runs, a new single-game World Series record. Five of them were in extra innings, including three by the Astros, both postseason records as well.
Bregman: "It’s gotta be the greatest game I’ve ever played in and probably everybody in here."— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) October 26, 2017
“Honestly, it was an exciting baseball game,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s two teams that competed for 27 outs, and yeah, it was an emotional roller coaster.”
Actually, both teams competed for 33 outs.
“That’s an incredible game on so many levels, so many ranges of emotion,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “If you like October baseball, if you like any kind of baseball, that’s one of the most incredible games you’ll ever be a part of.”
We also had the brim of Chris Taylor’s cap somehow saving a run, there was George Springer losing his head (at least on television), and second base umpire Laz Diaz getting hit by a terribly offline pickoff throw in the ninth inning.
“We didn't get a chance to advance, but that's baseball,” Roberts said of the throw. “Things like that happen.”
There was Yasiel Puig upset that he didn’t make a catch of a ball that he had little to no business even getting to. “I feel like every ball that goes to right field is a ball that I should catch,” he said.
There was Charlie Culberson continuing his October extra-base hit party with a home run, and no he didn’t think he tied the game. He was just excited in the moment.
I completely understand if Dodgers fans are in no mood to appreciate what we just saw, not after coming up on the wrong end of the result. After all, I doubt Mary Todd Lincoln felt much like appreciating the solid acting choices made in ‘Our American Cousin.’
Game 2 saw the Dodgers erase two deficits and nearly erase a third. It saw the Astros erase a deficit against a bullpen that was dominant to this point in the postseason. Nobody in the bullpens were safe, least of all on the Astros side, where a fan was arrested erasing the line between spectator and doofus.
The final ledger shows Brandon McCarthy took the loss, allowing a two-run home run in the 11th to George Springer. McCarthy was the eighth relief pitcher used by the Dodgers on a night where Rich Hill was pulled after just four innings and 60 pitches, trailing 1-0.
These are choices made by Roberts worthy of debate to be sure, but the bottom line is pretty clear. The Dodgers had their best pitcher — Kenley Jansen — on the mound with a two-run lead, and didn’t close it out.
That’s going to sting.
Yes, he needed to get six outs, but when he was brought in in the eighth inning, it was to face the Astros’ best hitters — Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. That’s exactly how to utilize leverage.
You could argue that the Dodgers could have kept Hill in for longer, or even Kenta Maeda, or any number of pitchers, potentially lessening the burden on Jansen to only three outs, instead of six. But that argument boils down to preferring a lesser pitcher for an extended outing over Jansen, who coming into Wednesday threw 14 pitches in the previous five days, with an off day coming Thursday.
Even after Jansen allowed the inherited runner to score in the eighth, he had a one-run lead in the ninth inning. Again, that’s a situation you take 100 times out of 100.
He left a cutter over the plate, and Marwin Gonzalez made him pay, hitting the game-tying home run.
“I wanted the ball up and in,” Jansen said. “The ball’s been carrying the whole night tonight. It was one missed pitch, and he got me.”
“Gonzalez put a good swing on an 0-2 pitch, and it was center cut. You tip your hat to him,” Roberts said. “With Kenley’s workload, where he was at, that part of the order, it’s a great spot for him. And it just doesn’t always go as planned.”
The series shifts to Houston, with Yu Darvish starting Game 3 on Friday night, a 5:09 p.m. start. The Dodgers will travel to Houston on Thursday morning and hold a workout at Minute Maid Park later in the day. Lance McCullers Jr. starts for the Astros on Friday.