LOS ANGELES — Afterward players young and old, and even those whose playing days were in the past, were in agreement.
“Never seen anything like it,” Astros veteran catcher Brian McCann said.
Safe to say few have.
In a Game 2 of the World Series sure to go down as a classic, the Astros erupted late and beat up on a previously impenetrable Dodgers bullpen Wednesday night and came away with a wild 7-6 victory that stunned a blue-towel waving crowd of 54,293 at Dodger Stadium.
That crowd, not to mention both dugouts, were put through an emotional wringer as the Astros had the game lost, then won, then lost again before winning.
“When that last out is made,” said Houston leadoff man George Springer, whose two-run homer off Brandon McCarthy in the 11th made it 7-5, “you finally breathe.”
And suddenly the Astros, who became the first team in history to hit three homers in extra innings of a postseason game, head home to Minute Park, where they’re 6-0 this postseason compared to 2-6 on the road, having tied the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
Game 3 is Friday night.
“That’s an incredible game on so many levels, so many ranges of emotion,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “If you like October baseball, if you like any kind of baseball, that’s one of the most incredible games you’ll ever be a part of.”
After taking a 5-3 lead with two runs in the top of the 10th, Houston closer Ken Giles, working his second inning, flushed it, allowing a Yasiel Puig leadoff homer and two-out RBI single by Enrique Hernandez.
But Springer, whose struggles much of this postseason had Hinch being questioned the last two days about dropping him from the leadoff spot, ripped a two-run shot off McCarthy. Springer went 3-for-5 with a walk and two RBI.
Charlie Culberson’s two-out homer off Chris Devenski in the bottom half made it 7-6 and the infielder ran around the bases arms thrust in the air as if he’d tie it. He had not and Puig struck out to end the wild 4 hour, 19-minute game.
“I almost fainted I think three times; I’m not joking,” said Justin Verlander, whose outing (three runs, two hits, both homers, over six innings) was mostly forgotten by game’s end. “Cheering so loudly I had to take a minute to recompose myself, so I didn’t pass out.”
In one of the oddities of the series so far, the Dodgers had just five hits, four of them homers, compared to 14 for the Astros, who homered four times.
Marwin Gonzalez started the rally against Kenley Jansen, previously not scored on in eight postseason outings — with 13 strikeouts and two hits allowed over nine innings — with a leadoff homer on a 0-and-2 cutter to left-center to tie it at 3, sucking much of the life from the crowd, for the moment.
“That’s an incredible AB,” said McCann, whom the Yankees dealt last offseason to the Astros.
After Giles pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth, Jose Altuve, presented with the AL Hank Aaron Award before the game, hit a leadoff homer off Josh Fields to make it 4-3. Carlos Correa followed with a blast of his own to make it 5-3, his ensuing bat flip rivaling that of Jose Bautista’s in Game 5 of the Rangers/Blue Jays 2015 ALDS.
Giles, erratic much of the season, and postseason, lost it in the bottom of the 10th. Puig started the inning with a long homer to left center to make it 5-4. Puig, known to flip a bat or two in his day, gingerly laid the bat on the grass at his feet to begin his trot around the bases.
Giles struck out the next two batters but walked Logan Forsythe, bringing Hernandez to the plate. Forsythe went to second on a wild pitch. Hernandez, who homered three times in the Dodgers’ NLCS Game 5 clinching victory over the Cubs, then sliced a single to right, causing the crowd to lose it again.
“It was an emotional roller coaster,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Guys were playing hard on both sides, and unfortunately we came up short. We didn’t expect these guys to lay down. It’s a very good ballclub over there.”
Springer shook his head several times pondering what he had just been a part of it.
“That’s an emotional high to low to high again,” Springer said. “But that’s why we play the game. That’s the craziest game that I’ve ever played in, and it’s only Game 2.”