WORLD SERIES GAME 7

ASTROS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!

ASTROS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!
Finally, the Astros are World Series champions. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Finally. After fifty-five years of waiting and after enduring and winning amazing postseason battles in the ALCS and World Series, the Houston Astros are the 2017 MLB Champions and have fulfilled their promise to be Houston Strong and make Houston proud.

The Astros jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in Game 7 and never looked back, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 and taking the World Series 4-3. George Springer highlighted the offense with a two-run home run in the second while Charlie Morton pitched four amazing innings of relief to finish the game and seal the amazing end to a magical season.

Springer led off Game 7 with a double into the left-field corner in the top of the first, then scored on an error by Cody Bellinger as he tried to throw out Alex Bregman at first on a ground ball intended to move Springer to third. Bregman advanced to second on the error, then stole third before scoring on an RBI groundout by Jose Altuve, putting the Astros up 2-0 early before Yu Darvish could end the half inning. In the bottom of the inning, Lance McCullers Jr. allowed a leadoff double to Chris Taylor, then loaded the bases after hitting Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig. He was able to leave all three stranded after a groundout to preserve the lead and end the first inning.

In the top of the second, Brian McCann worked a leadoff walk after being down 0-2 to Darvish, then moved to third on a double by Marwin Gonzalez. McCann would score on an RBI groundout from McCullers to extend the lead to 3-0. Springer was up next and continued his amazing World Series with a two-run homer to make it 5-0 Astros, and for the second time in this series end Darvish's night early. Brandon Morrow took over for the Dodgers and was able to get the third out. McCullers put runners on again after a leadoff single by Logan Forsythe and then a one-out walk to Kike Hernandez but was able to get out of the trouble with some excellent defense behind him including the inning-ending double play by Correa.

Already willing to bring out the big guns, the Dodgers brought out Clayton Kershaw in relief in the top of the third inning. Kershaw as able to get the first 1-2-3 inning for Los Angeles including a strikeout. McCullers once again got into a stressful situation in the bottom of the inning, allowing another leadoff hit before hitting Turner for the second time, putting runners on first and second with no outs. McCullers was able to get a strikeout for the first out before A.J. Hinch made the call to his bullpen, bringing in Brad Peacock. Peacock was able to get a flyout and strikeout to end the inning and strand two more Dodgers runners as the Astros took their 5-0 lead into the fourth.

Kershaw was able to get through another inning in the top of the fourth, working around a one-out single by Marwin Gonzalez with a groundout and flyout. Peacock continued to do well, retiring the Dodgers in order including a strikeout to keep the Astros' five-run advantage intact after four innings.

Kershaw continued to dominate in the top of the fifth, getting two strikeouts in another 1-2-3 inning. Peacock issued a one-out walk to Corey Seager then a single to Turner, putting runners on first and second and prompting A.J. Hinch to bring in Francisco Liriano to face the left-handed Bellinger. Bellinger grounded out for the second out, then Chris Devenski came in and got the final out of the inning to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard.

Carlos Correa led off the sixth with a single, then advanced to second on a groundout by Yuli Gurriel, then third on a groundout by McCann, but was left stranded as Kershaw intentionally walked the next two batters before getting the pinch-hitting Cameron Maybin to pop out to keep the Astros from adding to their lead. Morton took the mound for Houston in the bottom of the inning and allowed a leadoff single and no-out walk. The Dodgers then got their first run of the night on an RBI single from Andre Ethier, making a 5-1 game. Morton bounced back from it getting a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.

Kenley Jansen was next on the mound for the Dodgers in the top of the seventh and worked around a two-out walk to Altuve to get through the half inning. Morton returned in the bottom of the inning and was able to get through the heart of the Dodger's lineup on just eleven pitches to send the game into the eighth.

Alex Wood was next out of the Dodger's bullpen and was able to throw a scoreless, hitless inning in the top of the eighth. Morton returned for another inning of work in the bottom of the inning and was able to get through it by retiring the Dodgers in order and putting the Astros three outs away from the trophy.

Wood continued on in the top of the ninth and had another 1-2-3 inning to send the game to the bottom of the ninth. Down to their last chance, the Dodgers were unable to get anything done against as Morton went on to retire the Dodgers down in order including a groundout to seal the deal and begin the celebration over five decades in the making. 

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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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