Series entertaining, for sure, but pity the poor pitchers
World Series could wrap up tonight in Los Angeles; Houston leads host Dodgers 3-2
An epic game. No, make that an instant classic.
Words that get tossed around way too much to have much meaning. Words that don’t really describe Game 5 of the World Series, no matter how entertaining much of it was. And entertaining it was. By the time Alex Bregman and Kenley Jansen combined to finally bring it to a close at 12:38 a.m. local time Monday in Houston, there had been so many plot turns for the Astros and Dodgers that it was hard for fans around the country to sort them all out before finally heading off to bed.
Great drama, yes. So much so that the game scored a rare TV ratings win over the NFL Sunday night game between Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Great fun, too. At least the people dancing between innings in the expensive seats behind home plate at Minute Maid Park seemed to think so — and that was before the Astros ended things 13-12 in the bottom of the 10th inning.
So did the Astros’ Carlos Correa, who declared it the “best game ever, for sure.”
But was it great baseball? Not even close.
The best pitcher in baseball blew a four-run lead, then blew another three-run lead for good measure. The former Cy Young winner who started for the Astros didn’t even make it out of the fourth inning.
The best closer in the game had a meltdown for the second time in this series. And the closer on the Astros never saw the mound after being hammered the night before.
It wasn’t like they weren’t given a chance to succeed. Umpire Bill Miller’s strike zone was as wide as the train that kept chugging atop the left field wall at Minute Maid every time the Astros scored.
But in a bandbox of a ballpark, balls flew everywhere. Seven of them cleared the fences, five of them hit by the home team.
You can’t just blame modern architecture. In Game 2 at Dodger Stadium, the teams combined for a record eight home runs, and the series record for homers has already been shattered — with potentially two games remaining.
It’s enough to get the tongues of the conspiracy theorists wagging. Interestingly enough, one of them will be starting Game 6 tonight for the Astros against Dodgers lefty Rich Hill in a rematch from Game 2.
Justin Verlander thinks the balls for this series are slicker, making sliders tougher to throw.
“I think it’s pretty clear,” Verlander said before Game 5. “I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offence in the game. I’m pretty sure I’m not fabricating a quote here when I say that.”
He’s not, because as little as two years ago Rob Manfred was searching for ways to get more offence in the game. No one, it seems in this day of nonstop action, wants a 2-1 game anymore.
Entertaining, yes, but so was Game 1 when Clayton Kershaw pitched an immaculate seven innings in a game that took less than half the time of the five-hour, 17-minute marathon that was Game 5.
Kershaw is going to have a tough time dealing with his latest outing, which adds to his post-season woes. But he’s not alone in a series that is destroying a lot of pitchers’ reputations.
For baseball, it’s all good if it draws eyeballs. And the ratings Sunday night seems to show the big bats are doing just that.
Keep this up, and we’ll all be worn out before this epic World Series finally ends.