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LOS ANGELES — And so we will have a seventh game.
Could this Fall Classic have ended any other way?
Wonder who will be the World Series’ new “Mr. November”?
The staggered and stunned Los Angeles Dodgers recovered from Game 5 trauma (a 13-12 loss in 10 innings) and beat Justin Verlander, 3-1, Tuesday night to square this 113th World Series at three games apiece. The 101-win Houston Astros and the 104-win Dodgers will meet in the ultimate game Wednesday night at Chavez Ravine.
The ’Stros, a team born the same year Dodger Stadium was built, will be trying to lift hurricane-ravaged Houston with the city’s first World Series championship.
The vaunted Dodgers, hardball royalty for more than a century, are looking for their first championship in 29 years.
And no one has any idea how any of it will turn out.
The Astros felt pretty good about themselves when they got to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
And why not? They had won the Game 5 epic hitting five homers and electrifying downtown Houston. They had their ace, Verlander, on the mound with full rest.
“Our team is very loose today,’’ said Houston manager A. J. Hinch. “They’re very ready to leave it all out on the field.’’
Meanwhile, it felt like some of the air had been sucked out of the Series for Dodgers fans. The false bravado of “Dodgers in Three” after LA’s Game 1 victory felt like ancient history. LA fans were still stunned from the 5-hour, 17-minute loss in Game 5 in Houston. Clayton Kershaw could not hold leads of 4-0 and 7-4 in that crucial game and it seemed to demoralize front-running LA fans. Facing Verlander made LA’s task more formidable.
The ’Stros were confident in their starting pitcher who came into the night 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in five postseason appearances this year. Overall, Verlander was 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA since being traded to Houston three months ago.
“I think the day we got him there was an emotional tie to the city because we were coming back from the hurricane, being relocated,’’ said Hinch. “There’s something different when you put a major piece like that in your clubhouse.’’
“He wants the ball in the big games,’’ said Jack Morris, who pitched one of the biggest games in World Series history when he beat the Braves for the Twins in 1991. “I expect him to go out and dominate. Great pitchers want the world to know it’s their time.’’
When I said my nightly hello to Houston bench coach Alex Cora, the new manager of the Red Sox who pledged not to talk about Boston until his work is done with Houston, I told him, “If you get into the champagne tonight, I expect you to spill your guts talking about the Red Sox job.’’
Alas, the champagne is still chillin’.
For somebody . . .
The ’Stros took a 1-0 lead on George Springer’s homer in the third (UConn wins over Milton High School) and it looked like Verlander might make that hold up. Through five innings he had eight strikeouts and had only thrown 69 pitches. But this is no ordinary Series. So, of course, the Dodgers rallied for two runs off the indomitable Verlander in the sixth.
Austin Barnes led off with a single. Verlander promptly hit Chase Utley with a pitch, then yielded a game-tying double to right to Chris Taylor. A long sacrifice fly to right by Corey Seager made it 2-1 and sent Taylor to third. Verlander bore down and got the Dodgers’ No. 3 and 4 hitters (Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger) on a popup and strikeout. Verlander was done for the night. Just as Kershaw failed for LA in Game 5, Houston’s Cy Young stud did not hold the lead for his team.
“I thought he was good,’’ said Hinch. “I thought he was obviously cruising . . . Obviously small margin here in this game.’’
Houston put men on first and third with two out in the seventh, but Kenta Maeda got Jose Altuve on a grounder to third, with Bellinger making a great pick of Turner’s throw in the dirt at first. Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson added an insurance run with a solo homer in the seventh. It was the 24th homer of the Series. And there’s still one game to play.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summoned his closer, Kenley Jansen, for a six-out save in the top of the eighth. The big man has had his struggles in this Series, but got the job done with two perfect innings, fanning potential future Hall-of-Famer Carlos Beltran to end it.
It’s Game On at Dodger Stadium.
This feels a lot like 1975. And the home team/road team, win/loss pattern is the same as it was for the Red Sox and the Reds that year. If that holds up, the Astros would win Wednesday night.
But there is no pattern to this World Series. Pretty perfect that Game 6 was on Halloween.
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