Bat­tered bullpens thank­ful for day of rest

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS -

HOUS­TON — No­body needs a day off in this World Series more than those run­down re­liev­ers.

Bran­don Mor­row has pitched in all five games for the Los An­ge­les Dodgers. He had never pitched three straight days be­fore talk­ing him­self into a wild Game 5, then al­lowed a ty­ing home run on his first pitch. He left with­out get­ting an out and the Hous­ton Astros sud­denly ahead by three runs.

Mor­row has given up three home runs in the post-sea­son af­ter not al­low­ing any in 45 reg­u­lar-sea­son ap­pear­ances.

“It’s not just the amount of games you play, but emo­tional in­vest­ment and the in­cred­i­ble fo­cus that ev­ery­body has,” he said. “It wears on you men­tally, and that kind of men­tal fo­cus kind of wears on you phys­i­cally. So yeah, it’s a grind. Guys are fa­tigued, but not tired, if that makes sense.”

Af­ter a 162-game reg­u­lar sea­son plus another month of high-pres­sure games in the play­offs, they’re not done yet.

Game 6 is tonight, af­ter both teams travel from Texas back to the West Coast.

Hous­ton never even used strug­gling closer Ken Giles in its 13-12 win in Game 5, which ended early Mon­day morn­ing af­ter each team em­ployed seven pitch­ers in 10 in­nings over nearly 5 1/2 hours. The loser was Ken­ley Jansen, the Dodgers’ All-Star closer who had al­ready blown a save in Game 2 – match­ing his to­tal dur­ing the en­tire year to date.

Tax­ing bullpens and top re­liev­ers in the post-sea­son is not a new phe­nom­e­non. Look no fur­ther than last year’s World Series. Look no fur­ther than last year’s World Series.

For the first time ever in 2016, not a sin­gle starter recorded an out af­ter the sixth in­ning of any game – and that Series went the full seven games.

Chicago closer Aroldis Chap­man won Game 7 against Cleve­land, end­ing a 108year ti­tle drought for the Cubs. But that was only af­ter he blew the save in the 10-in­ning game. In­di­ans re­liever An­drew Miller had given up two runs and the lead over 2 1/3 in­nings, his sec­ond straight World Series game al­low­ing a run af­ter eight con­sec­u­tive score­less play­off ap­pear­ances.

The Astros took a 3-2 series lead back to Los An­ge­les, where they won the sec­ond game in 11 in­nings.

Astros man­ager A.J. Hinch has said Giles will get the ball again in this Series but hasn’t spec­i­fied in what role af­ter the righty with 100 mph heat was tagged for five runs over 1 2/3 in­nings in his two World Series ap­pear­ances. Giles lost Game 4 af­ter tak­ing over in the ninth in a 1-1 tie that turned into a 6-2 Dodgers win.

By this point in the sea­son, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter how many pitch­ing changes are needed or when re­liev­ers are used, as long as they get outs. “We’ve got to get 27 outs one way or another. I don’t care who gets them. Our guys don’t care who gets them,” Hinch said. “I think the com­fort­able roles and know­ing who you’re go­ing to face and what the game sit­u­a­tion is go­ing to be in, it’s just so un­pre­dictable in this sport. Es­pe­cially at this stage of the year.”

Hous­ton re­liev­ers have com­bined for a 5.94 ERA in the post-sea­son.

Mor­row has pitched in all but one of the Dodgers’ 13 post-sea­son games, but Los An­ge­les had not planned to use him Sun­day.

“He called down and said that he felt good,” Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said. “So in the sev­enth in­ning, you can’t turn him down.”

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