Scout’s Eye: Home Run Derby, The Sequel

According to some of the Astros’ pitchers, they can tell the difference between this year’s World Series ball and one that was used during the regular season, even if they were blindfolded.

Justin Verlander was quoted as saying the ball is “slicker.” There has been talk about how when they’re signing baseballs before the games, it’s like writing on wax paper. In a year when more home runs were hit than ever in the history of the game, (6125) did they have to make it even more in favor of the hitter? Being a former pitcher, I can tell you that pitchers will always look for an excuse or make you think that you have an edge, but there is defiantly something wrong with the ball.

Last night, Clayton Kershaw had no problem with the ball for the first few innings. His lollypop curve was spinning like a blender mixing a smoothy, and his other pitches had plenty of life, When you have command of all your pitches like him, you can throw a watermelon pit through a keyhole. When the Dodgers spotted him three runs in the top of the first inning off of Houston ace Dallas Keuchel, you could see the fire in his eyes. The Astros looked like they were in for a long night at the plate.

By the 4th inning, Keuchel was gone and that shaky Astro bullpen would have to hold the Dodgers at four runs and hope their powerful lineup could peck away at the L.A. ace. In the bottom of the fourth, they didn’t have to worry about pecking away as Kershaw, for some strange reason, lost his command. Kershaw uncharacteristically walked the lead off batter George Springer, then gave up a one out single to Jose Altuve. and then a Carlos Correa double that scored Springer for the first Houston run. Yuli Gurriel followed with a monster three run home run to left and as quick as you could say “Hey, wasn’t Gurriel given a 5 game suspension by MLB for his off color remarks the other day?” the game was tied.

What followed in the top of the fifth inning was fitting for this wild game. After A.J Hinch conferred with his analytical staff, he brought in Collin McHugh who proceeded to put two on and then give up a three run home run to Cody Bellinger on a 74 mph curve that didn’t curve. Bellinger parked it into the first row in right center to put the boys from L.A. up by three runs (must have been one of those slick balls). Oh, you thought we were done? In the bottom of inning five Kershaw was searching for his command. He put two on and gave way to Kenta Maeda who quickly gave up an absolute bomb to center field by Jose Altuve for a three run home run to tie it up again.

Why Dodgers’ Mgr. Dave Roberts had his cleanup hitter bunt with no one out and a runner on second, I don’t know, but Justin Turner, who was the DH because he’s having trouble with his legs, was thrown out at third on what was both a bad decision and poor execution.

Why did George Springer make a bad decision to try and make an impossible diving catch on a single that turned into a triple that scored the go ahead run in the top of the seventh? It turned into a moot point after Springer led off the bottom of the seventh with a game tying home run that landed in Oklahoma and suddenly it was 8-8 in this remarkable game.

A single by Alex Bregman, followed by a double by Altuve, put them ahead by one run. They weren’t done yet as Carlos Correa made it 11 to 8 with another Astro homer before they made an out. What a crazy game! (By the way, what’s with the Choo Choo Train? Aren’t they the Astros as in outer space? Shouldn’t it be a space ship?)

When Brian McCann homered in the bottom of the eighth the game should have been over, but not this one where it seemed that the pitchers could get no one out.

In the top of the 9th inning, Yasiel Puig decided to get involved and hit a two run homer to make it a one run game. Austin Barnes followed with a hustling double. With 2 outs and a 2-2 count, Dodgers lead off batter Chris Taylor tied the game with a clutch, RBI single up the middle.

After all the offense, this game was finally decided with two outs in the tenth inning. Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen hit Brian McCann to put a runner on first. A walk to Springer put runners on first and second. Derek Fisher pinch ran for McCann and Alex Bregman’s single to left scored him ahead of Andre Ethiers throw to end this epic World Series game.

Final score, Astros 13 Dodgers 12. The finishing number totals were astounding. 25 runs, 28 hits, 6 home runs, 13 pitchers and a time of 5:17.

A ten inning thriller. I’m exhausted! What a game, a true classic. What a series! Best part of all this, there’s more to come.

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