I’m going to start this blog by being all sentimental with a quick ode to the Astros, then break down some parts of last night’s game.
The Houston Astros have their storybook ending to their season. The city that was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and that desperately needed something to latch onto for any kind of hope and escape now has a World Series Champion. It’s borderline erie how it always works out that way in sports. Think back to some of the moments in just the past 17 years: Mike Piazza’s home run after 9/11. The blocked punt in New Orleans after Katrina. The Brett Favre game after his dad passed. The Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series. Dee Gordon hitting a home run in the first Marlin’s at bat after Jose Fernandez died. Even a few weeks ago when the Las Vegas Knights scored 4 goals in the first ten minutes of the first NHL game in Las Vegas just a week after the Las Vegas shooting.
Sports always gives us some of the best, feel good stories and the Astros winning the World Series title after Hurricane Harvey caused so much destruction and mayhem earlier this year, it was a great ending to a phenomenal season of baseball. It was this team’s destiny to win it all. The Houston Astros were a team of a bunch of hard working, gritty, and likable guys (and Yuli Gurriel). They supported each other and their community when it needed them most. Congratulations to the Houston Astros on winning the World Series. They definitely earned it.
Now to the game:
Hi, I’m Ketch and I think starting Yu Darvish was the right move last night. Twitter was freaking out about Darvish and all the mid-game couch managers were coming out of the woodwork saying that the Dodgers should have started Kershaw. Former (?) Water Cooler Sports gambling “expert” – The Sensation – went at me for pointing out that starting Darvish was probably the smart move, by telling me that you don’t “think” in Game 7, you “go with your guy.” Clearly I forgot about how many times The Sensation has managed a Game 7.
Alright, I’m done taking shots at The Sensation. But my point is that we weren’t talking about a fringe starter or someone relatively unproven. We were talking about Yu Darvish, a guy that has consistently been one of the best pitchers since he came into the league. Darvish has been an All Star four times (including this year). On top of that, until the World Series Darvish was dealing all post season. In the DS and CS, he threw 11.1 innings, struck out 14, walked one and posted an ERA of 1.62 and a WHIP of 0.901. His game three disaster during the World Series was absolutely viewed as an outlier. To say “Darvish sucks, he never should have gotten the ball” is dumb. Also, yes Darvish gave up two runs in the first, but after Springer’s double, he gave up three weak ground balls and a routine fly ball.
Okay so maybe you don’t necessarily think Darvish shouldn’t have started, but you’re wondering why they brought in Kershaw so soon. Maybe you’re thinking if they brought him in in the third, why not just start him? I get that argument. I don’t think Roberts necessarily wanted to or was expecting to bring Kershaw in that early, but Darvish quite frankly didn’t have it. His breaking ball was not breaking in that second inning and he paid for it. At that point, it was 5-0. You couldn’t afford to let the Astros get any more runs so yes, you bring in your horse. Again, at that point, I have no problems with Robert’s decision.
In my opinion, it came down to this: would you want the elite pitcher who threw 49 pitches five days ago, or the elite pitcher that threw 94 pitches two days ago? Both guys showed they had the potential to shove or get lit up. I mean yeah, Kershaw came in and pitched great, but given his track record, who’s to say he doesn’t get lit up out of the gate? Smoltz, a guy who has pitched and relieved in a lot of big games, said it on the broadcast last night: coming into a game down 5-0 is a lot different than starting Game 7 of the World Series.
Alright, I just needed to defend myself from certain people.
Well you could say this all started in the 1st inning when Cody Bellinger went after that ground ball to second and then threw it away. I get that Forsythe was shifted up the middle, but he makes that play every time and it’s 10 million times easier for him to make that play than Bellinger since his momentum would be going towards the base, rather than away.
Then when the Dodgers decided to play the infield back with Brian McCann on third base with one out and the pitcher Lance McCullers up. I know it was early, but at that point, it looked like the game had the chance to get out of hand quick (which it did). Considering McCann’s speed, I get not bringing the infield totally in because you don’t want the goddamn pitcher to poke a cheapy through the infield, but I think you have to at least be halfway there. If they’re playing halfway, Forsythe charges the ball and McCann either holds or is dead nuts at home.
And hey LA, how about getting a hit with some runners on base? I don’t have the exact number, but from my memory, the Dodgers stranded over 37 guys on base last night, and stud rookie Cody Bellinger was a big reason why. Guy looked completely lost last night.
Houston proved they were the best team in the league last night. Their pitchers, hitters, fielders and manager made less mistakes. As the cliché goes, the team that makes less mistakes will likely win. Baseball fans knew a lot of these young Houston studs coming into this series, but this was truly a coming out party for them.
Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman are borderline household names at this point. And then there’s George Springer, the World Series MVP. Since he came to the bigs, all he’s done is gotten better. He’s played a stellar outfield, showed that he can hit for power, average, and run the bases as good as anyone. Springer has turned into a bona fide superstar and is going to be lumped in conversations with guys like Trout, Harper, Arenado, and Altuve.
One of the most impressive things about this Astros team is that they never seemed to get rattled. You could say the same about the Dodgers until Game 7 as well, but last night when Lance McCullers was beaning every other batter and the Dodgers were threatening, the Astros did not let the pressure get to them. They made the plays they had to make and turned innings that looked like they were about to be very long, into empty innings for LA.
People have been talking about the Face of Baseball since Jeter retired. Maybe this is the shift everyone needed. The Astros are a feel good story. They have tons of young talent as well as established veterans like Verlander, Keuchel, and even Charlie Morton (who was absolutely fantastic last night). Maybe the Houston Astros are the face of baseball. The only thing for sure is that the Astros have the potential to be right back where they are now for the next decade.