HOUSTON — The momentum swung like a pendulum pumped full of PEDs, alternating from one dugout to the other in a remarkable 5 hours, 17 minutes of high-drama baseball theater Sunday night.
First it was a volley of three-run homers — one by the Astros that tied the score, one by the Dodgers that put them back ahead by three, and one more by the Astros to tie it again.
And that wasn’t even the half of the craziness. Not even close.
When it all shook out in Game 5 of a World Series that already has reached classic status, the Astros emerged with a 13-12, 10-inning victory that left a thunderous crowd of 43,300 at Minute Maid Park exhausted, the pitching staffs beaten to a pulp and a once woebegone franchise a win shy of its first championship.
“I’m kind of speechless,” said George Springer, who went 2-for-3 with three walks and hit one of his team’s five homers as the Astros took a three-games-to-two lead in the best-of-seven series. “That’s the craziest atmosphere I’ve ever been a part of. It was big hit after big hit, big play after big play.”
Carlos Correa, whose two-run homer capped a four-run seventh that gave the Astros an 11-8 lead, said with a smile: “These games are hard on me. I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack out there every single time. Hopefully we can win one more game and take a break, because this is hard on me.”
After the Dodgers scored three runs in the ninth to tie it at 12-12, Houston won it in the 10th on Alex Bregman’s two-out single to left off Kenley Jansen. It drove in pinch runner Derek Fisher, who replaced Brian McCann at second after McCann was hit by a pitch with two outs and Springer walked.
“Epic,” said McCann, whose eighth-inning homer made it a 12-9 game. “Drama at an all-time high. Just so many moments. You can’t pick one.”
The Astros, who totaled 14 hits, same as the Dodgers, can clinch their first World Series championship Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Astros righthander Justin Verlander will face Dodgers lefthander Rich Hill.
“This is not going to be finished Tuesday,” said the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, whose two-run homer sparked a three-run ninth. “There’s going to be a Game 7.”
Indeed, Game 5 showed that making any assumptions about these games is a fool’s errand.
After all, who would have predicted that Game 5 starters Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw would be mere afterthoughts after allowing nine earned runs in 8 1⁄3 innings?
“It wasn’t good pitching by any means,” said Keuchel, who allowed four runs (three earned) and five hits in 3 2⁄3 innings. “But good baseball can still mean good hitting and timely hitting, and there was a lot of timely hitting by both teams.”
The Astros took a 12-9 lead into the ninth, and anyone thinking they’d coast home hadn’t been watching either this game or this postseason.
With their bullpen a mess, it was left to Chris Devenski, who had come on with two outs in the eighth, to finish. He walked Cody Bellinger and, after striking out Logan Forsythe, allowed a two-run homer to leftfield by Puig. It was the seventh home run of the game and second by the Dodgers.
When Austin Barnes doubled, fans were quaking for other reasons than the homers their team had hit — and their fear was well-grounded. Joc Pederson’s grounder moved Barnes to third, and with the Astros an out away from winning the game, Chris Taylor sent a 2-and-2 changeup back up the middle for a single that tied it at 12-12.
Game 5 became only the second game in World Series history to feature at least 12 runs scored by each team, joining Game 4 of the 1993 Series, in which Toronto beat Philadelphia, 15-14.
If there was any doubt, and there really wasn’t by that point, the Dodgers’ rally officially allowed the game to pass what previously seemed unpassable. That would be the Astros’ 7-6, 11-inning victory in Game 2, one the Astros to a man said was the wildest they’d ever been a part of. Five of the eight home runs in that game were hit in extra innings.
“I mean, just when I thought I could describe Game 2 as my favorite game of all time, I think Game 5 exceeded that and more,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’s hard to put into words all the twists and turns in that game, the emotion, doing it at home, in front of our home crowd. Just exactly what you expect, to come to the park with Keuchel and Kershaw pitching. Just a perfect setup game for a bunch of runs.”
The wildness of the evening officially commenced, and never really let up, in the bottom of the fourth with the Astros trailing 4-0. Springer worked a leadoff walk and Jose Altuve smacked a one-out single to left. Correa then ripped an RBI double to make it 4-1. Gurriel jumped on a first-pitch slider by Kershaw and launched a no-doubt three-run homer to left to tie it at 4.
Bellinger’s three-run homer to right-center in the fifth gave the Dodgers a 7-4 lead. Springer and Bregman drew back-to-back walks with two outs in the bottom of the inning, and in came Kenta Maeda to face Altuve. With an all-or-nothing swing, he connected with a full-count fastball, clanging it off the signage above a balcony in left-center for a stadium-shaking homer that tied it at 7-7.
With two outs in the seventh, Brad Peacock got ahead of Bellinger 0-and-2 before the first baseman sent a sinking liner to center. Springer charged and made an ill-advised, and unsuccessful, dive for it. The ball skipped under his glove and rolled to the wall for what was scored a triple, and Enrique Hernandez raced home from first for an 8-7 lead.
Springer led off the bottom of the seventh and hit Brandon Morrow’s first pitch to the train tracks high above the seats in left-center to tie it.
“That was a very angry swing,” Springer said with a laugh. “I was upset at the bad decision I had made. I was fortunate enough to square it up.”
Bregman’s single and Altuve’s RBI double gave Houston its first lead of the night at 9-8. Correa followed with a towering home run to left for an 11-8 lead.
After the Dodgers made it 11-9 on Corey Seager’s double in the eighth, McCann homered in the bottom of the inning to give the Astros a 12-9 lead.
“I didn’t think anything could top [Game 2],” McCann said, “and this did.”