WORLD SERIES GAME 5

Astros win epic slugfest 13-12, take 3-2 series lead

Derek Fisher celebrates the game-winning run. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After having Dallas Keuchel struggle and put them down in a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 hole against Clayton Kershaw, the Astros offense had a magical night to win a back-and-forth slugfest to win Game 5 and now own a 3-2 series lead, putting them one win away from a championship.

Yuli Gurriel and Jose Altuve both hit game-tying three-run home runs early in the game, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Brian McCann hit homers of their own later in the game, but it was Alex Bregman's walk-off hit in the tenth that made the difference as Houston goes on to beat the Dodgers 13-12 in an offensive clash for the ages.

Chris Taylor started Game 5 with a leadoff single up the middle off of Dallas Keuchel, then moved to second after a one-out walk of Justin Turner. Keuchel issued another walk to load the bases, then gave up a two-out single by Logan Forsythe to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers made it 3-0 as Kike Hernandez came home during a pickoff attempt of Forsythe who got stuck between first and second but made it safely after a wide throw by Gurriel that put Altuve too far away from the bag to make the tag in time. In the bottom of the inning, Clayton Kershaw made quick work of the Astros, retiring them in order on 12 pitches.

Keuchel was much better in the top of the second and was able to get a 1-2-3 inning to keep the Dodgers off the bases. Kershaw continued to overpower the Astros bats in the bottom of the inning, making it a six up, six down inning to send the 3-0 game into the third.

Keuchel continued to bounce back from the bad first inning, retiring the Dodgers in order again in the top of the third. Evan Gattis was the first baserunner for the Astros after getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning but was the first out in a double play hit by Marwin Gonzalez. Kershaw then got a groundout to end the third and maintain his team's 3-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth,  Keuchel gave up a one-out double to Forsythe who then scored on a two-out single by Austin Barnes to make it a 4-0 Dodger lead. Keuchel then allowed an infield single to Charlie Culberson, resulting in A.J. Hinch ending his short, disappointing night to bring in Luke Gregerson from the bullpen who was able to get a strikeout to end the half inning. Springer worked a leadoff walk against Kershaw in the bottom of the inning, then moved to second on a one-out single from Altuve. Correa was up next and lasered a ball into left-field to get the Astros on the board and make it a 4-1 game. Gurriel was up next and tied the game with one amazing swing, launching a ball off the wall above the Crawford Boxes to tie the game at 4-4 and send Minute Maid Park into a frenzy. Kershaw was able to get a flyout to end the inning, but the damage had been done.

Collin McHugh took over on the mound for the Astros in the top of the fifth and issued back-to-back walks to start the inning. That would turn into a go-ahead three-run home run by Cody Bellinger to give the Dodgers the lead back at 7-4. In the bottom of the inning, Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks prompting a call to the Dodgers bullpen to bring out Kenta Maeda. Altuve tied the game up yet again, getting a two-out three-run homer of his own to make it 7-7 before Maeda could get out of the inning and send the tie game to the sixth.

McHugh returned in the top of the sixth and worked around a one-out walk with a flyout and strikeout to get through the half inning. Maeda likewise continued on the mound for the Dodgers, but issued a one-out walk and was then pulled in favor of Tony Watson. Watson was able to strand the inherited runner and keep the game tied headed to the seventh.

Brad Peacock was next out of the bullpen for the Astros in the top of the seventh and allowed a leadoff double to Turner before throwing Turner out at third on a bunt by Hernandez. Hernandez came around to score on a missed diving attempt by Springer on a hit by Bellinger that made it all the way to the center field wall, giving the Dodgers the lead again, 8-7. Without missing a beat, Springer led off the bottom of the inning by rocketing a ball to the train tracks in left field off of Brandon Morrow to, yet again, tie the game. Bregman was next and singled, then hustled to score on an Altuve double, giving the Astros their first lead of the night, 9-8. The offense didn't stop there, Correa followed and hit a two-run homer to extend the lead to 11-8, still with no outs in the inning, resulting in another call to the Dodgers' bullpen. Tony Cingrani took over for the Dodgers and was able to get three consecutive strikeouts to bring an end to another long, epic inning.

In the top of the eighth, Brad Peacock allowed a one-out double to Joc Pederson, then had a pitch get away from him that hit Chris Taylor, putting runners on first and second with one out, and bringing A.J. Hinch out of the dugout to bring in Will Harris. Harris allowed an RBI double to Corey Seager to make it 11-9, then got Justin Turner to fly out to right before another call to the bullpen, this time for Chris Devenski, who was able to get a groundout for the third out. Tony Cingrani stayed on the mound for the bottom of the inning, but he too fell victim to the Astros as McCann hit a one-out solo shot to make it 12-9 and prompt bringing in Ross Stripling. Stripling was able to work around a single by Springer to get a double play to send the game to the ninth.

Devenski was brought back out for the top of the ninth and allowed a one-out, two-run home run to Yasiel Puig to make it a one-run game at 12-11, then a double to Austin Barnes who advanced to third on a groundout for the second out. Barnes would score on a two-out single up the middle by Chris Taylor, tying the game at 12 before Devenski was able to get the third out. Kenley Jansen took over for the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth and worked around a two-out double by Yuli Gurriel to send the game to extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, the Astros turned to Joe Musgrove who was able to work around a one-out single by Andre Ethier to get through the half inning. Kenley Jansen was back out for his second inning of work in the bottom of the tenth and after hitting Brian McCann with a pitch issued a walk to George Springer. Derek Fisher came out to pinch-run for McCann, which proved to be the difference as Bregman singled to score Fisher and win the five-hour long game.

Game 6: Both teams get tomorrow off as the series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 6 and possible Game 7. First pitch of Game 6 from Dodger Stadium is scheduled for 7:20 PM Central Tuesday night. The Astros will send out their postseason hero, Justin Verlander, who despite giving up three runs over six innings in Game 2 of this series has been incredibly good for Houston. The Dodgers will send out Rich Hill who has not gone more than 5 innings and has allowed at least one run in all three of his postseason starts. An Astros win will end the series and give Houston its first championship in franchise history.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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