Astros-Dodgers: LA dominates late, forces Game 7

Astros fans were dejected after Tuesday's loss. Bob Levey/Getty Images

There will be a Game 7 in the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to get rare runs off of Justin Verlander and backed it with great pitching to fight off elimination and force a winner-take-all game for the championship tomorrow night.

George Springer homers to give the Astros an early lead, but the Dodgers get two runs off of Justin Verlander with RBIs from Chris Taylor and Corey Seager in the sixth and add another off of Joe Musgrove with a solo home run from Joc Pederson in the seventh to beat the Astros 3-1 in Game 6.

Game 6 started with Rich Hill working around a one-out single by Alex Bregman by getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve and a groundout by Carlos Correa to end the top of the first. Justin Verlander had a quick bottom of the inning, retiring the Dodgers in order on seven pitches with a strikeout and two pop outs.

Things remained mostly quiet in the second. In the top of the inning, Hill was able to get a 1-2-3 inning with a fly out, foul out, and ground out. Verlander worked around a one-out single from Yasiel Puig in the bottom of the inning with a strikeout and fly out to keep the game scoreless going into the third.

In the top of the third, George Springer started the scoring with a two-out solo home run to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. Verlander worked well with the lead in the bottom half, getting two strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning and hold the 1-0 lead headed into the fourth.

Both pitchers combined for another quiet one in the fourth, making it a six up, six down inning including two more strikeouts for Verlander, bringing his total to seven as the Astros held on to their 1-0 lead after four.

Brian McCann led off the fifth with a single into right field off of Hill, then moved to third on a double by Marwin Gonzalez. They stayed put after two strikeouts by Hill, followed by an intentional walk to Springer to load the bases before the Dodgers called on their bullpen to bring out Brandon Morrow to face Bregman, who grounded out to end the Astros' threat. Verlander had another great inning in the bottom of the fifth, retiring the Dodgers in order on 11 pitches including another strikeout.

Brandon Morrow was back out in the top of the sixth and was able to get two outs before allowing a single to Yuli Gurriel, resulting in another call to the bullpen, this time for Tony Watson. Watson hit McCann to put runners on first and second, but both were stranded after a lineout by Gonzalez to end the half inning. The Dodgers got their second hit of the night from Austin Barnes to leadoff the bottom of the inning, followed by Verlander hitting Chase Utley with a ball in the dirt to put runners on first and second. Barnes would come around to score on an RBI double by Taylor to tie the game 1-1. The Dodgers would get their first lead of the night on a sac fly from Seager, making it a 2-1 game before Verlander was able to get out of the inning.

Josh Reddick worked a leadoff walk to start the seventh, ending Watson's night as the Dodgers brought in Kenta Maeda. Reddick was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice hit by Evan Gattis, then Gattis moved to second on a one-out single by Springer. Derek Fisher came in to pinch run for Gattis and moved to third tagging after a flyout by Bregman, but was stranded on a groundout by Altuve. Musgrove was first out of the Astros' bullpen in the bottom of the inning and allowed the Dodgers to extend their lead with a solo home run by Pederson to make it 3-1 before getting through the inning and sending the game into the eighth.

Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers' closer, came in for the top of the eighth looking for a six-out save. The top of the eighth put it within reach for him after he retired the Astros in order on just seven pitches. Luke Gregerson went out to the mound for the bottom of the inning and allowed a leadoff single by Charlie Culberson who advanced to second on a groundout for out number one. Gregerson was able to get a strikeout but then walked Justin Turner, resulting in a call to bring in Francisco Liriano, who was able to get a strikeout for the final out of the inning.

Jansen completed the six-out save in the top of the ninth, getting two strikeouts and a pop out to end the game and get the save in the 3-1 victory.

Game 7: The Astros will once again play a Game 7, but this time it will be on the road in enemy territory. First pitch of Game 7 is scheduled for 7:20 PM Central tonight and can once again be seen on Fox. The Dodger's will start Yu Darvish, who the Astros were able to drive out early in Game 3 with a four-run second inning. The Astros have not yet named a starter but it will likely be Lance McCullers Jr. Of course, the starters will have short leashes as both teams will have nearly all their pitchers available for at least some amount of work in an attempt to do whatever it takes to win this ultimate decisive game.

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The Astros need to beat up on the lowly Rangers. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Collectively so far this season the Astros would not make for very good garbage men. Meaning they haven't been so good at taking out the trash. Swept in a series at Detroit when the Tigers were terrible, swept at Minute Maid Park by the sorry Orioles, swept in an early season series at the Rangers. Presently the Rangers are an atrocity. A nine game losing streak has them 35-62, buried deeply in last place in the American League West, 23 games behind the Astros. So the Astros need to whip up on them in this weekend's three game set, before the Astros head west for a three city road trip with stops in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

15. The number of home runs Jose Altuve has hit over his last 37 games. Multiply by four and that's a 60 homers in 148 games pace. Over those 37 games, Altuve is batting just .242. But slugging .577.

.029. Carlos Correa's batting average dating back 10 games played. One hit in his last 34 at bats. 14 strikeouts and just one walk over the stretch. That is what you call a funk. Certainly not a way to curry 300 million dollar contract offers.

The Rangers have just two 100 loss seasons in their history, their first two seasons after becoming the Rangers upon moving from Washington D.C. In 1972 the Ted Williams managed squad went 62-100, Ted quit, and the next year the Rangers finished 57-105. If the Astros sweep them this weekend, the Rangers will be on pace to lose 105 games.

It will be a decade ago this October that the Rangers came as close to winning a World Series as any team has ever come without winning the Series. In 2011 the Rangers carried a three games to two lead into game six at St. Louis. The Rangers led game six 7-5 with two on, two out, and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals' David Freese drilled a ball toward the base of the right field wall. Rangers' right fielder Nelson Cruz didn't make an error but didn't play the ball well, going back awkwardly and reaching out at the last second as if afraid of the wall. It went for a two run triple to tie the game. Two innings later Freese hit a game winning homer to force game seven.

The inning before that the Rangers again came within one strike of winning it all. A Josh Hamilton two run homer had the Rangers up 9-7 going to the bottom of the 10th. The Cards got within 9-8. With the tying run on second and two out, Rangers' Manager Ron Washington opted to intentionally walk Albert Pujols. Albert was still a tremendous player in 2011 (his last with the Redbirds), but he was not better than Lance Berkman that season, definitely not against right-handed pitching. Walking Pujols brought up Berkman to face right-hander Scott Feldman (a matchup of former Astro and future Astro). Berkman lined a two-two pitch to center field tying the game 9-9, ahead of Freese's 11th inning walk-off homer. One of the most incredible games in World Series history.


Quite the story hitting that Texas and Oklahoma may be plotting to bolt the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. That neither UT, OU, nor the SEC denied it has smoke billowing. The Sooners have won the last six Big 12 football championships. The Longhorns last won in 2009. Oklahoma St., Kansas St., Baylor, TCU, all have more recently won at least a share of the conference title. An SEC UT could be looking at being in a division with Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M. UT marketing folks should be exploring a huge sponsorship deal with 7-Eleven. You know, Big Gulp. But as usual, follow the money.

The week ahead…

Wednesday: The Texans open training camp! Wait. Delete the exclamation point. Whither Deshaun Watson?

Thursday: The NBA Draft. Unless the Rockets pull off a thunderbolt of a trade to move up to number one and select Cade Cunningham, the winds of opinion are blowing in the direction of the Rockets taking wing Jalen Green second overall pick. That would be fine. Green is generally considered the most potential-laden explosive scorer on the board. The Rockets can use just about everything, a premium wing scorer would be excellent.

Friday: The MLB trade deadline. Does James Click bolster the Astros' shaky bullpen. The Astros have also been linked to Marlins' center fielder Starling Marte. Growing from his wretched start Myles Straw has been plenty acceptable. Free agent-to-be Marte would be a notable upgrade.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. First big beat the deadline win goes to the Rays. 41-year-old designated hitter Nelson Cruz still mashes. Simple frame of reference: he's been notably better than Yordan Alvarez this year.

2. The delayed by a year 2020 Summer Olympics are underway. Any interest at all?

3. Baseball's greatest Cruzes: Bronze-Jose Jr. Silver-Nelson Gold-Jose Sr.

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