Coming off a 3-1 loss at Dodger Stadium, the Astros needed to make a statement in Game 2 to avoid the sweep.
Justin Verlander on the mound? Yeah, not idea.
Through 4 ½ innings, Verlander pitched with veteran poise. He went right after the Dodgers hitters, striking out Chris Taylor and Corey Seager before forcing Game 1 hero Justin Turner to fly out to center field to end the 1st inning.
Dodgers starter Rich Hill matched Verlander’s intensity until the top of the 3rd when Josh Reddick led off the inning with a single that looked more like a Chase Utley error than a legitimate hit. Verlander bunted Reddick to second, and George Springer sent him to third on a single. Next up, Alex Bregman hit a ball to center that just escaped a diving Chris Taylor, allowing Reddick to score. Hill managed to survive the inning with only the 1 earned run.
Verlander continued to cruise, and with the Dodgers pulling Hill in the 5th inning, all the momentum seemed to be on the Astros side. It seemed the perfect moment for the Astros to go in for the kill.
Until it wasn’t.
Verlander finally looked vulnerable when in the bottom of the 5th, with two outs, Joc Pederson worked a 2-1 count then hit a solo homerun to tie the game. The Dodgers’ bullpen kept up the pressure when Kenta Maeda was removed in the top of the 6th so Tony Watson, a southpaw, could retire fellow lefty Brian McCann.
It seemed Verlander would have another easy inning in the bottom of the 6th as Chase Utley and Andre Either were retired on just four pitches, but Chris Taylor produced a walk and a Corey Seager blast put the Dodgers ahead. Verlander’s night was done.
The Astros themselves weren’t done. Relief pitcher Will Harris kept the score as it was through the 7th inning. The bats finally hit dirt against usually lights out Kenley Jansen. Alex Bregman led off with a ground-rule double off Brandon Morrow. After replacing Morrow, Jansen got Jose Altuve out but Bregman advanced to third and then Carlos Correa got him home on a single.
After a quick inning for the Dodgers offense, Marwin Gonzalez returned to form and led off the 9th inning with a line-drive home run against Jansen to tie the game. Extra innings here we go.
Houston’s bats were kept under control for nearly 9 innings, but they awoke with a force in the top of the 10th with back-to-back solo homeruns by Altuve and Correa to give the Astros a 5-3 lead. Dave Roberts’ aggressive bullpen play finally backfired as Josh Fields, who replaced Jansen, gave up the two homers.
The game seemed lost, but the Dodgers were desperate and answered back in the bottom of the 10th when Yasiel Puig hit his own solo homerun off Ken Giles to lead off the inning. After Giles struck out two batters, Logan Forsythe forced a walk and scored on a single by Kike Hernandez.
With the Dodgers officially out of relievers, Brandon McCarthy was called to the mound to get them out of the 11th with the game still tied. Cameron Maybin had other plans as he singled to lead off the inning then stole second before George Springer hit a two-run blast to right-center to put the Astros ahead once again. McCarthy didn’t give up any runs the rest of the inning, but the damage was done.
In the bottom of the 11th Charlie Culberson managed a solo home run, sparking some life for the Dodger crowd, but it was all the Dodger bats could muster in a game that lasted for over four hours.
7-6 Astros. Tied Series. One of the greatest World Series games in history.
We’ll see you on Friday.