Soar­ing to new heights

Homers en­sure it’s never over till it’s over this World Series DI­gEST

StarMetro Calgary - - CANADA - The As­sO­ci­ATed Press

At this rate, Justin Ver­lan­der might very well hit his first home run for real.

A clas­si­cally poor-hit­ting pitcher, the Hous­ton ace knocked one over the wall last week at Dodger Sta­dium in bat­ting prac­tice. Maybe that bol­stered his be­lief that this batch of base­balls is slick and juiced.

On Tues­day night, Ver­lan­der aims to lead the Astros to their first cham­pi­onship when he faces the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in Game 6 of a power-packed World Series that’s al­ready set the mark for home runs.

“We’re just mak­ing mem­o­ries right now,’’ Astros catcher Brian McCann said, a day af­ter he home­red.

A to­tal of 22 homers so far, more than 1-1/2 miles of dingers.

Th­ese nightly episodes of home run derby are con­nect­ing with fans, too — in much of the U.S., they stayed up well past mid­night to watch Hous­ton out­last the Dodgers 13-12 in 10 in­nings at Minute Maid Park, TV num­bers showed.

With each swing, per­haps this Series re­ally is be­com­ing more riv­et­ing.

Ge­orge Springer, Jose Al­tuve, Car­los Cor­rea, Yuli Gur­riel and McCann launched long­balls in the Astros’ back-and-forth thriller. Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig home­red for the Dodgers — seven dif­fer­ent play­ers on each side have home­red.

“This is not go­ing to be fin­ished Tues­day. It’s go­ing to be Game 7,’’ Puig said.

Springer has hit three in the Series. His assess­ment of Game 5: “Bed­lam.’’

“This is the cra­zi­est at­mos­phere I’ve ever played in, the cra­zi­est re­sults, just big hit af­ter big hit, big play af­ter big play,’’ the Hous­ton lead­off man said.

Ma­jor League Base­ball set a record this year for most home runs in a sea­son and, fit­tingly, Min­nesota lead­off man Brian Dozier be­gan the play­offs with a homer.

Dodgers ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw, mean­while, has been tagged for a record eight home runs in a sin­gle post-sea­son. Gur­riel got him in Game 4, and Hous­ton has 13 over­all against the Dodgers.

Did any­one ex­pect this many at this time in Oc­to­ber? Sur­pris­ing, right?

“I guess a lit­tle bit, just be­cause both teams are putting up in­cred­i­ble at-bats in the most im­por­tant times,’’ Astros man­ager A.J. Hinch said Mon­day on a con­fer­ence call.

“I think we re­al­ize on the pitch­ing side, both teams are at the very end of their rope,’’ he said. “Their mis­takes are get­ting hit. But the vol­ume is cer­tainly record-set­ting, and cer­tainly the in­ten­sity of the mo­ments that are end­ing in home runs is hard to fathom.’’

Dodgers lefty Rich Hill op­poses Ver­lan­der in a re­match from Game 2. That night, the teams wound up com­bin­ing for a Series-record eight home runs, with Hous­ton hold­ing on to win 7-6 in 11 in­nings.

DaviD J. PhilliP/The as­so­ci­aTeD Press

The Astros’ Alex Breg­man hit the game-win­ning hit on Sun­day night in Hous­ton.

Bill KosTroun/The as­so­ci­aTeD Press

Toronto FC cel­e­brates Vic­tor Vazquez’s goal on Mon­day night in Har­ri­son, N.J.

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