In my college football article this past week, I referenced an SNL skit to lead things off. Well, I’m doing it again, folks! You can’t tame this beast. So there was a sketch in the late ’90s where Will Ferrell is sitting at a bar playing Newt Gingrich next to someone playing another timely 90s figure. They had both had bad weeks in the news from what I remember. Anyways, the premise of the sketch was that these two were just meeting purely by chance in the bar talking about their crazy bad weeks. Will Ferrell as Newt Gingrich turns to the other after a few moments of silence and just shouts, “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!”
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…
Game 2 of the 2017 World Series.
WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?! Thank goodness we got the night off last night because I don’t think I would be ready for Game 3 right out of the shoot after that. That was awesome. We had good pitching, bad pitching, clutch hits, bat flips, licked bats, lead changes, and the Dodgers literally using their entire available pitching staff. Wowzers.
Here’s Puig licking a bat.
So, let’s talk about the actual game. This one pitted Justin Verlander against Rich Hill. Verlander had been lights out pretty much all postseason, and this one was no exception. He went 6 innings, only gave up 3 earned runs on 2 hits, walked 2 and struck out 5. Ok, so maybe not the lights out stuff we saw from him in the ALCS, but that’s a useful start. His counterpart Rich Hill went 4 innings, gave up 1 earned run on 3 hits, walked 3 and struck out 7. Again, useful but not Kershawian. And then…we turned it over to the bullpens…
Look, I know Dave Roberts is taking some heat for his decision to pull Hill so early and hand the ball off to Maeda, but I’ll defend him a little. The Dodgers and their staff lean very heavily on analytics, and so I trust they know way more about the matchups than we do. Also, things were going fine! Roberts was following the script perfectly until he brought in Kenley Jansen in the 8th who then proceeded to give up the game-tying run when he came back out in the 9th.
But, this is Kenley Jansen we’re talking about! This is one of the most dominant closers in baseball, people. Even though he was stretching out for the 2 inning save, I and anyone else who follows baseball would have done the same. exact. thing. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have! But…stuff happens! This is baseball, and sometimes the best closer in the game gives up a game-tying homerun to Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the 9th. Anyways, the fact remains that Roberts blew through his LITERAL ENTIRE BULLPEN in the same manner that the Nationals have been blowing through managers. He was quick on the draw attempting to gain every little advantage he could based on matchups, but it’s the World Series, and you have to do whatever you need to win the game. So, you do you, Dave Roberts!
Enough about the pitching for a second, though. The real story of this game was the fact that 9 out of the 13 runs came via the homerun. The balls were flying out of Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, and there was seemingly no end in sight to the momentum shifting longballs. They just didn’t even give us time to catch our collective breath! I personally loved every single second of it. One of the most exciting World Series games I can remember. Hands down. AND IT’S ONLY GAME 2.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) October 26, 2017
So the real action started in the top of the 8th inning with Carlos Correa up to bat against Jansen. Seager had given the Dodgers the momentum on a 6th inning homerun, and now big Kenley Jansen was up to shut Game 2 down. However, Correa singled in a run in the 8th and the aforementioned Marwin Freaking Gonzalez jacks a dong in the top of the 9th to tie this baby up. THEN Cody Bellinger almost sends the Dodgers off to Houston with a walk-off. Literally feet away.
By the way, Justin texted me right before the bottom of the 9th saying “Bellinger is going to get a walk-off here.” ALMOST!!!
As if we weren’t entertained enough, Altuve and Correa go back-to-back, which made all of us be like…WELP see you in Houston. NOT SO FAST. Puig must have lubed his bat up enough with that gross tongue because he dongs, and Kike Hernandez ties the game with a single to salvage the Dodgers chances. What is happening?! THEN we got a Springer homerun in the top of the 11th for yet another lead change in extras. Are you kidding me, though? Like seriously what’s happening? By now, I’m breathing heavily into a paper bag because I just can’t handle this madness. The Dodgers gave one last gasp in the bottom of the 11th, but Chris Devenski finally managed to quench the fire of the LA rally for the game 2 equalizer.
Everyone take a big breath. Wow. What a game.
One more thing before we jump into Game 3. How is Josh Fields on a playoff roster? He comes in, gives up a double and two homeruns, and we’re all like…why are you here TBH? Ok, fine. Fields has actually been decent out of the bullpen this season, but is Fields really the guy you want in a high leverage situation in the top of the 10th? On the other hand, it’s literally either him or McCarthy at that point, so pick your poison. Anyways, Game 3!
Game 3 Preview
They’ve spoiled us, folks. We got maybe the best game of the entire playoffs in Game 2, and now Game 3 has a very high bar as the series shifts back to Houston. The Astros have yet to lose a home game in the postseason so far in 2017, and if that holds up over the next 3 games (it won’t ps), then the Astros will be lifting their first World Series trophy soon. Tonight’s game features Yu Darvish vs. Lance McCullers in a matchup that seems to favor the Dodgers on the road.
Darvish comes into this game high off of 2 really good starts so far in the postseason. He’s pitched 11 1/3 innings, given up just 2 earned runs, walked 1 and struck out 14. After burning through their bullpen in Game 2, the Dodgers desperately need Darvish to go deep into this one. Oh, and if he can really limit the longball, that would be great too. Having come over from Texas at the trade deadline, Darvish has seen his former divisional foes many times before, and it’s advantage Darvish honestly. Only 1 Astro has hit above .222 in his respective career off of Darvish (George Springer), and not one Astro has more than 3 career RBI off him. How’s that for random stats?!
On the other side, we get bullpen-starter swingman Lance McCullers Jr. He has made only one other start so far in the postseason as he was used primarily out of the bullpen in the Boston series and early in the Yankee series. So far in the postseason, he has 13 IP, 3 earned runs on 6 hits, 5 walks, and 13 strikeouts. Like Darvish, the Astros would love for him to go deep into this one but more so because the bullpen has been pretty bad so far. Devenski, Will Harris, and even Ken Giles have all struggled to get through innings cleanly, and I’m sure AJ Hinch would love to not have multiple heart attacks for once.
One more thing about McCullers before we move on. He was really good in the 1st half. Like sterling 3.05 ERA in the 1st half good. I was kicking myself for not drafting him in all my leagues. Then, he got hurt, came back in the second half, and just didn’t look the same to finish with a 4.25 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. However, we saw the brilliance. We saw the ceiling here. McCullers has got the stuff to really become a top-tier pitcher in this league. We know much more about Darvish’s floor at the moment, and so I feel the expectation is that he will outpitch McCullers. Don’t sleep on the young gun though. This is how careers are made! Really interested to see how McCullers handles the pivotal Game 3 start tonight.
As we shift our focus to the offensive side of things, we wonder…how can they top Game 2? Will we get another late-game surge of homeruns? Do these teams have more in the tank to give us the fireworks? I sure hope so!
For the Astros, the middle of that lineup has been deadly. Altuve, Correa, and Springer are nearly impossible to slow down, and they all seem to be coming up with the clutch hits at will. Altuve has been stellar this postseason with 6 HR and a .360/.448/.720 slash in 50 at-bats. And he’s accomplishing all of this AT MY HEIGHT! You better rep the 5’6” dudes of the world!
Even when those three aren’t making noise, it seems like the Astros always have someone else coming up clutch whether it be Evan Gattis or Marwin Gonzalez delivering the boom. That’s what makes a World Series winner. Even when the big sticks can’t get it done, there’s someone else behind them picking up the slack.
For the Dodgers, they aren’t doing too bad themselves. Justin Turner has been as lit as his beard/flowing locks combo, and Puig seems to have found something magic when he licks his bat. Puig has slashed an impressive .351/.442/.622 in the postseason, but what impresses me more is the fact that Chris Taylor has more homeruns than him this postseason. Once cast off by the Mariners, Taylor has continued his dream season into October. Also, he’s posted an outstanding .417 OBP in the playoffs, and as we know from Moneyball, it’s about getting those men on base!
So, tonight we come back to the well for more. If Game 2 is any indication of what’s to be expected, then I’m so in. How could you not be? I feel Darvish has the upper hand because of his familiarity with the Astros and how well he’s been pitching in October. Neither team can afford to burn through their bullpen again in this one, so let’s see how long these leashes are for the starters. Houston is tough to beat in their home ballpark, but I think Darvish will overpower them and keep the ball in the yard.