For the first time in franchise history, the Houston Astros are World Series champions.
Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Astros earned a 5-1 win (box score) over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Houston led the series 3-2, then lost Game 6 before bouncing back for a win in Game 7. This is the first World Series title for the Astros -- they've been around since 1962 -- and their second pennant.
Here are 13 things to know about Game 7:
Springer was historically great
What a performance by George Springer. Springer started Game 7 with a double into the left field corner, and he later scored on Cody Bellinger's error. One inning later, Springer gave his team a 5-0 lead with a no-doubt two-run homer to center field. Here's the video:
Remember when Springer went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts in Game 1? Yeah, me neither. He finished the series with a .379/.471/1.000 batting line.:
- His five home runs tie the World Series record held by Reggie Jackson (1977) and Chase Utley (2009).
- His eight extra-base hits and 29 total bases are new World Series records.
- He is the first player in history to go deep in four straight World Series games.
- He is the first player in history to record an extra-base hit in six straight World Series games.
Springer went 3 for 26 (.115) in the ALCS and 0 for 4 with those four strikeouts in Game 1 of the World Series. Then he became a man possessed. An unbelievable performance, this was.
Darvish was historically terrible
The Dodgers went out and traded for Yu Darvish at the deadline this year to help get them over the top. He wasn't brought in to help them win the NL West title. That was already in the bag. They wanted him to help them win a World Series.
Instead, Darvish did perhaps more damage to the team's World Series cause than any other player this series. The Astros tagged him for five runs (four earned) on three hits and one walk (and one Bellinger error) in 1 2/3 innings in Game 7. Darvish made two starts in the series and recorded 10 outs. His World Series line:
Game 3 was the first time in Darvish's big-league career that he failed to a) complete at least three innings, and b) strike out at least one batter. The second time was Game 7. Brutal.
Darvish joins Art Ditmar as the only pitchers in history to make two starts in a single World Series, and fail to complete two innings of work in either of them. Ditmar allowed six runs in 1 2/3 total innings in his two World Series starts for the 1960 Yankees.
Furthermore, Darvish is only the second pitcher in history with two career postseason starts of four-plus runs allowed in fewer than two full innings. And he had those two starts in the same World Series. Yikes. Bullet Bob Turley had two such starts as well. One in the 1955 World Series, and another in 1958 World Series, both with the Yankees.
McCullers made some history too
Neither starting pitcher was all that effective in Game 7. The Astros and Lance McCullers Jr. are fortunate the Dodgers were unable to come though with The Big Hit the first few innings. McCullers faced 13 batters in Game 7 and seven reached base. And yet, no runs. His pitching line:
McCullers plunked four -- four! -- batters in his 2 1/3 innings. None of the four hit-by-pitches were intentional, of course. He hit Justin Turner twice, plus Yasiel Puig and Enrique Hernandez once each. McCullers is the first pitcher to hit four batters in a World Series game, or any postseason game for that matter.
Also, his short start led to this fun little World Series nugget:
Lance McCullers Jr. is the first pitcher since Jack Morris in 1991 to start a World Series Game 7 and not allow a run.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 2, 2017
Since 1991, there has been a Game 7 played in the World Series eight times: 1997, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2017. That's 16 chances for a starter to have a scoreless outing. Only McCullers did it. It helped that he bowed out after 2 1/3 innings and that the Dodgers couldn't buy a hit with runners in scoring position.
Kershaw was great in relief
I guess we should get ready for a winter's worth of second-guessing the decision to start Darvish and not Clayton Kershaw in Game 7, huh? Or at least a week's worth of second guessing, I'd say. Kershaw, on two days of rest following his Game 5 start, came out of the bullpen to throw four scoreless innings in Game 7.
Those two walks? Both intentional. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts had Kershaw intentionally walk both Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis to load the bases with two outs for Cameron Maybin in the sixth inning. A risky decision, that was. Maybin popped up to end the inning. Kershaw was fantastic in Game 1, fantastic in Game 7, and had only two bad innings in Game 5. Something tells me we're going to hear about those two bad innings all offseason.
Anyway, as for starting Kershaw on two days' rest in Game 7, this is essentially why it didn't happen:
I understand the frustration with how Yu Darvish performed. Clayton Kershaw got rolled in Game 5, and he was on two days of rest.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) November 2, 2017
Pretty much. A rested Darvish or a potentially fatigued Kershaw? It's easy to say Kershaw should've started in hindsight. But going into the game, rolling with Darvish and having Kershaw ready to come out of the bullpen was the smart move. Darvish just didn't hold up his end of the bargain.
The Dodgers wasted so many early chances
If nothing else, you can't say the Dodgers didn't have any chances in Game 7. They put the leadoff man on base in each of the first three innings, and had men on base in five of the first six innings. Look at these wasted rallies:
- 1st inning: Leadoff double, later had bases loaded with two outs.
- 2nd inning: Leadoff single, later had runners on first and second with one out.
- 3rd inning: Runners on first and second with no outs.
- 5th inning: Runners on first and second with one out.
There was some bad luck mixed in there -- Chris Taylor lined into an inning-ending double play in the second, and Puig lined into the third out in the fifth -- but, at the end of the day, the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of those early opportunities. They went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the first five innings and stranded eight men on base. Ouch.
It wasn't until the sixth inning that the Dodgers broke through. They put men on first and second with no outs, then Andre Ethier yanked a seeing-eye ground ball single to right field to score the runner from second, and the cut deficit to 5-1. That very well might've been Ethier's last at-bat as a Dodger. He is an impending free agent and .
This could be Andre Ethier's last at-bat as a Dodger. His first came in 2006, against Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) November 2, 2017
The Dodgers turned that first and second with no outs situation into just the one run. Taylor struck out and Corey Seager grounded out on a broken bat to end the rally after Ether's run-scoring single.
Houston's bullpen finally came through
The bullpen has been a sore spot all postseason for the Astros, and it was especially bad in the World Series prior to Game 7. Here are the worst bullpen ERAs in postseason history going into Game 7:
The Astros bullpen saved the best for last, it seems. After McCullers was knocked out in the third inning, four relievers combined to hold the Dodgers to one run in 6 2/3 innings. Who saw that coming? Here's the bullpen breakdown:
Following Ethier's single to get the Dodgers on the board, Morton retired the final 11 Dodgers to end the game. Houston's best relievers this postseason have been starters. McCullers had the four-inning save in Game 7 of the ALCS, and Peacock had the 3 2/3 inning save in Game 5 of the World Series. Then that performance in Game 7 of the World Series. Hey, there are no style points in the postseason. Get outs however you can.
Bellinger set two new strikeout records
Although he had some very big hits in Games 4 of 5, the World Series was mostly a series to forget for Cody Bellinger. Bellinger went 4 for 28 (.143) in the seven games, including 0 for 4 in Game 7. He also struck out 17 times -- 17 times! -- in the seven games. That is easily a new World Series record. The previous record was 13, held by Javier Baez and Ryan Howard.
Furthermore, Bellinger struck out 29 times in 15 postseason games overall this year. That is a new single postseason record. The previous record was not longstanding -- Aaron Judge struck out 27 times earlier this postseason. Here is the single postseason strikeout leaderboard:
- Cody Bellinger, 2017 Dodgers: 29
- Aaron Judge, 2017 Yankees: 27
- Alfonso Soriano, 2003 Yankees: 26
- Pat Burrell, 2010 Giants: 22
I get the sense Bellinger's record won't last very long. Strikeouts are very prevalent in today's game, and we're only going to see more young players come up and get taken to school by top shelf pitching in the postseason.
Morrow pitched in every World Series game
This series Dodgers setup man Brandon Morrow, who was limited to 136 2/3 total innings from 2013-16 by a myriad of injuries, became the second pitcher ever to work in all seven World Series games. He joined Darold Knowles, who did it for the 1973 Athletics. Coincidentally enough, Knowles was once Morrow's pitching coach in the minors.
Roberts used Morrow to get the final out of the second inning after Darvish made a mess of things. He struck out Alex Bregman, the only batter he faced. Morrow was warmed up and ready to go. I can't help but wonder why he wasn't in the game to face Springer given how much Darvish was laboring.
Gurriel tipped his cap to Darvish
Back in Game 3, Yuli Gurriel made a racist gesture in the dugout after taking Darvish deep for a home run. , though the suspension doesn't begin until 2018. Gurriel was eligible to play for the entire World Series.
In the first inning of Game 7, Gurriel faced Darvish for the first time since making the gesture, and before his at-bat,. Here's a photo:
Gurriel battled Darvish for a 13-pitch at-bat before flying out. While I'm sure Darvish appreciated the helmet tip, it was a bit too little, too late. Better late than never, I guess.
No starter threw 100 pitches in the series
For the first time since pitch count data became available in 1988, no starting pitcher threw 100 pitches in a game in the World Series. Darvish threw 47 pitches in Game 7 while McCullers threw 49. Here are the five highest pitch totals of the World Series:
- Clayton Kershaw, Game 5: 94
- Justin Verlander, Game 6: 93
- Lance McCullers Jr., Game 3: 87
- Dallas Keuchel, Game 5: 86
- Alex Wood, Game 4 & Dallas Keuchel, Game 1: 84 (tied)
The complete lack of a 100-pitch start is a function of many things, including the #bullpening phenomenon that has captivated the postseason, as well as some straight up bad starts. All told, starters threw 65 2/3 innings in the World Series while relievers threw 63 innings.
Roberts set a World Series pitching change record
Not surprisingly, Roberts set a new World Series record by making 32 pitching changes in the World Series. The previous record was 30, set by then-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa in 2011. The record was set when Kenley Jansen came out of the bullpen to replace Kershaw in the seventh inning. Hey, obscure history is still history!
Fans at Minute Maid Park went nuts
Game 7 was played at Dodger Stadium, but back in Houston, Minute Maid Park was rocking at the Astros' Game 7 watch party. The ballpark was packed and the crowd went nuts when Springer hit his second inning home run to give the Astros a 5-0 lead. Check it out:
That's awesome. If you can't be at the game because your team is on the road, the next best thing is watching Game 7 at your ballpark with 40-something-thousand other fans.
The Astros are World Series champs
And Sports Illustrated called it back in 2014:
How cool is that?
Astros gear available at the CBS Sports Shop
Is there a better way to celebrate a World Series championship than by spending hard-earned American dollars on World Series hear? No. No there is not. The CBS Sports Shop has you covered, Astros fans. Here's what the gear looks like: