Thursday, November 2, 2017

George Springer Leads Houston Astros To Game Seven Victory, World Series Championship

Players of the Day for Wednesday, November 1, 2017

World Series

George Springer's two-run homer in the second inning off Dodger starter, Yu Darvish, proved decisive as the Houston Astros captured the first World Series championship in franchise history, dating back to 1962, when they entered the National League as the Colt 45s.
Springer: World Series MVP

Houston's 5-1 victory was the first road win for either team.

Springer's blast - his fifth of the series - tied a World Series record held by Reggie Jackson and Chase Utley and capped a three-run, second inning uprising that sent Darvish to the showers early for the second time in the series.

Darvish lasted just 1 2/3 innings, the same span as in game three, when he allowed four runs on six hits in a 5-3 Houston win.

With the lead in hand, Houston's pitchers took over, keeping the Dodgers off the scoreboard until the sixth inning, when they plated their only run of the game, when Andre Ethier singled off Charlie Morton, sending home Joc Peterson.

Morton, who gave up just two hits over four innings, was credited with the win, his first of the series, striking out four and issuing one walk.

Especially early on, the Dodgers had their chances, but failed to come through in the clutch, leaving 10 men stranded for the game.

Springer, in addition to his five home runs, drove in seven runs and batted .379. He was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

Houston played in the National League from 1962 to 2012, then moved into the AL West division in 2013, losing 111 games in their first year in the new league, but they continued to build and improve. In 2014, they finished the regular season with a record of 70-92. In 2015, they went 86-76, finishing two games behind the Texas Rangers in the division, reaching the playoffs as a wild card.

In 2016, the Astros didn't make the playoffs, going 84-78, but rebounded to a record of 101-61 in 2017, winning the West division by a whopping 21 games. While Houston's regular season home record of 48-33 was impressive, the Astros were beasts on the road, going 53-28.

Houston defeated Boston in the ALDS, three games to one, but, in the championship series, were sent to a seventh game by the Yankees, winning a 4-0 shutout engineered by Charlie Morton, who took the win, allowing two hits over five innings. Lance McCullers completed the whitewash with four innings in relief, allowing only one hit.

The Astros will have ample time to enjoy their championship. Houston's first Spring training game isn't until March 3, 2018.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Chris Taylor, Kenley Jansen Power 3-1 Dodger Win, Force Game Seven With Astros

Players of the Day for Tuesday, October 31, 2017

World Series

Taylor: RBI Double
Chris Taylor's sixth-inning double off Houston starter, Justin Verlander, sent Austin Barnes to the plate, tying the game at a run apiece in game six of the World Series. Chase Utley moved to third on the play, and scored when Corey Saeger nearly left the yard, lifting a long fly ball to the wall in right field. Josh Reddick calmly made the catch, but had no chance to get Utley, who tagged up and scored on the sac fly.

Jansen: 2IP, 0H, 3K, 0ER
An inning later, an ebullient Joc Pederson added insurance with a solo home run and closer Kenley Jansen made the runs stand up with two perfect innings in relief for the 3-1 victory over Houston, tying the series at three games each, setting up a fitting final game seven.

Houston's only run came in the third inning on a home run by George Springer, his fourth of the series, but that was all the Astros could produce, despite scoring chances in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

Taylor's double was his only hit of the game. He's batting .259 with three homers and seven RBI in the post-season. Jansen, who was saddled with the loss in game five, was nothing short of brilliant, throwing 18 of 19 pitches for strikes against the six batters he faced, striking out three. It was Jansen's second save of the series and fifth in the post-season. Jansen was tied with Colorado's Greg Holland for the National League regular season lead in saves with 41.

The baseball season will officially end sometime late Wednesday night at the conclusion of game seven. First pitch is slated for 8:09 pm ET at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Alex Bregman's Walk-Off Single Delivers 13-12 Houston 10th-Inning Win, 3-2 Edge For Astros

Players of the Day for Sunday, October 29, 2017

World Series

Bregman: Game-winner
With two out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Alex Bregman drove in the winning run with a sharp single to left center, sending the Houston Astros to a 13-12 victory over the LA Dodgers, putting Houston up three games to two and one win away from a franchise-first world championship.

A second-year third baseman, Bregman's heroic stroke was deep enough to send pinch-runner Derek Fisher from second base to the plate with the game-winner. Fisher had been inserted for Brian McCann, who had reached base after being hit by a pitch from LA reliever Kenley Jansen and moved to second on George Springer's walk.

Jansen, the Dodger closer, threw 33 pitches and was laboring in the 10th, bringing into focus manager Dave Roberts decision to pitch him in the ninth inning of Saturday's 6-2 Dodger victory.

Jansen is normally called upon in save situations, when the lead is three runs or fewer. In Saturday's win, the lead was five runs (6-1). Jansen threw 14 pitches in the inning, one of them planted in the stands by Bregman, so it was not surprising that Bregman would respond favorably facing a tiring Jansen on Sunday night (actually Monday morning.

The game itself was nothing short of a classic, as both ace starters - LA's Clayton Kershaw and Houston's Dallas Keuchel - were routed by the opposing batters. Keuchel was the first to go, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits over 3 2/3 innings. The Dodgers got to him for three runs in the first. Kershaw worked into the fifth, squandering almost all of the Dodger lead by allowing six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings.

Houston and LA batters were persistent, the teams scoring runs in 11 of the 20 half innings, including scoring in six of the last eight. Houston socked five home runs to LA's two, and erased of four and three runs, in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. The Dodgers were equal to the challenge, tying the game with three runs in the top of the ninth to produce the extra frame which eventually was their undoing.

AL MVP candidate, Jose Altuve, had a sensational game, going 3-for-5 with a single, double and game-tying three run homer, scoring three times and driving in four. His infield mate, shortstop Alex Correa, was also 3-for-5, singling, doubling, homering and driving in three runs.

The series now shifts back to Los Angeles on Tuesday for game six, going live at 8:09 pm ET at Dodger Stadium. Justin Verlander goes to the mound for Houston against Dodger hurler, Rich Hill. The Dodgers need a win to force a game seven while the Astros seek to end the baseball season with a victory.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

WORLD SERIES: Cody Bellinger Lifts Dodgers In Game Four, Ties Series

Players of the Day for Saturday, October 28, 2017

Work Series

Cody Bellinger emerged from a deep slump to lead the LA Dodgers to a 6-2 victory over Houston Saturday, tying the series at two games apiece.

Bellinger, who entered the game with an 0-for-11 mark in the series, flied out in the second inning and struck out in the fifth before stroking a key one-out double in the seventh inning with Houston up, 1-0. His first World Series hit proved crucial, as Houston manager A.J. Hinch pulled starter Charlie Morton immediately, replacing him with reliever Will Harris.

Bellinger: 2-4, 2R, RBI
Bellinger, a rookie first baseman who hammered 39 home runs during the regular season, tied the game when he scored on Logon Forsythe's single up the middle after Yasiel Puig flied out for the inning's second out.

Houston's first run had come on the only hit off LA starter, Alex Wood, a sixth inning homer by Houston leadoff hitter, George Springer.

Wood arrived a no-hitter into the sixth as he battled with Houston's Morton, who pitched into the seventh. Neither starter received a decision as the game remained tied into the ninth.

In the Dodgers' ninth, Bellinger delivered again, this time with a double off Houston closer, Ken Giles, plating Corey Saeger from second and sending Justin Turner to third base, giving LA a 2-1 advantage.

Once the Dodgers had the lead, the floodgates opened on Houston's porous relief pitching. Joe Musgrave entered the game for the Astros with none out and runners on second and third, fanning Puig for the first out, but, after an intentional walk to Forsythe, Austin Barnes sent another run home on a sac fly before Joc Pederson put the game away with a three-run homer into the right field stands.

With a 6-1 lead, Dodger manager made another in a series of questionable calls, bringing in closer, Kenley Jansen, even though it was not a save opportunity. Jansen threw just 14 pitches, one of which was a 1-2 slider to Alex Bregman, who stroked a solo home run over the wall in left with two outs in the ninth. Jansen finished up by getting Jose Altuve to fly to center, but the use of the team's most reliable reliever in such a situation was considered unusual.

With the win in hand, the tied series resumes for the third straight game in Houston, 8:09 pm on Sunday. The pitching matchup is a repeat of game one starters, with Dallas Keutchel going for Houston and Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

World Series: Houston Takes 2-1 Advantage As Brad Peacock Pitches Perfectly In 5-3 Victory

Players of the Day for Friday, October 27, 2017

World Series

Peacock perfect over 3 2/3
It's not often that a long reliever is singled out as the most important playing in a winning effort, but the 3 2/3 innings of peerless pitching by Houston's Brad Peacock was the determining factor in the Astros winning game three, 5-3, to take a two games to one edge in the World Series.

After the Astros has disposed of Dodger starter, Yu Darvish, in a four-run, second inning uprising, Houston hurler, Lance McCullers soldiered on, giving up a run in the top of the third, but ran into more trouble in the sixth. McCullers walked Corey Seager and allowed a double down the left field line by Justin Turner before whiffing Cody Bellinger for the first out of the inning and an end to his night.

Peacock came on with runners on second and third with one out, and prompted a weak ground out from Yasiel Puig. Seager scored on the play, the run attributed to McCullers. Next, in what was possibly Peacock's only mistake of the night, Turner scored on a wild pitch to Chase Utley, making the score 5-3. Peacock managed to get Utley to foul out to third, ending the inning.

After that, the Dodgers never had a chance. Peacock dominated the final three innings, issuing one walk, fanning four, without giving up as much as a single base hit.

The game ended with Peacock retiring the last seven batters he faced, putting Houston within two games of their first World Series title and the Dodgers wondering what went wrong after winning game one and leading in game two.

McCullers was credited with the win, Peacock earning the save.

Houston batters were 12-for-36 in the game (.333), while the Dodgers managed only four hits in 29 at-bats, a .138 average.

Next up is game four, Saturday, at 8:09 pm ET at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Alex Wood gets the start for the Dodgers, against Houston's Charlie Morton.