LOS ANGELES — Even those on the losing end Tuesday night could appreciate what the loss meant.
A seventh game of the World Series.
“I know we lost,” Astros centerfielder George Springer said after Game 6, “but this is awesome.”
Houston manager A.J. Hinch, who characterized the series through six games as “one of the most epic World Series in history,” called Wednesday night’s Game 7, “good for our sport.”
Added Dodgers first baseman Joc Pederson: “I think you dream about that as a kid.”
For the third time in four years, the World Series went to a deciding Game 7 and the latest certainly had plenty to live up to.
In 2014 the Giants topped the Royals, 3-2, stranding the tying run at third in the bottom of the ninth.
Then there was perhaps the greatest Game 7 of them all last year, when the Cubs beat the Indians, 8-7, in 10 innings in Cleveland to win their first title since 1908.
“This is the ultimate dream,” the Cubs starter for that game, Kyle Hendricks, said the night before. “You dream of getting to the World Series, winning the World Series. When you’re out in your backyard as a kid, playing Little League at the field with your friends, this is the moment you dream about.”
Royals manager Ned Yost, on the eve of his club’s Game 7 in 2014, painted a similar picture.
“I mean, Game 7s are always special,” Yost said. “As kids, what I fall back on is when I was 10 years old, hitting rocks in the backyard, trying to hit it over the fence for a home run. I never one time thought, ‘OK, bases loaded, two out, bottom of the ninth, Game 5 of the World Series,’ you know? It was always two outs, bottom of the ninth, Game 7 of the World Series, you know?”
Or, as Giants outfielder Hunter Pence said at the time: “A Game 7 in the World Series is a gift for everyone.”
Especially for the sport, which Hinch expanded on several hours before Wednesday night’s first pitch.
“I think what this series has done with the sport is hopefully have people around the country that just appreciated the emotion that’s in our game, the youthfulness that’s in our game, the drama that’s come with this series,” Hinch said. “And seeing how our sport can play one of the fastest games in World Series in Game 1 [2 hours, 28 minutes] and one of the longest ever in Game 5 [5 hours, 17 minutes]. So I think that our sport is loved for many reasons. This World Series will be one of them.”
Neither manager planned for any big speeches before the game.
“This is what you put your heart and soul into to be a champion and the champions are remembered,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We have an opportunity that we are clearly aware of. And I know that we have the players, the people to do this. So I think for me, for our guys, it’s been talked about all year. So I think for me there’s no need for a message. I think that we understand what’s at stake and what this moment is for this city, this fan base, to have Game 7 at home, I just know that our guys are prepared for this moment in every way.”
After all, after nearly nine months together — going back to mid-February and the start of spring training — there really isn’t much to add before a Game 7.
“I didn’t really need to [say anything],” Hinch said Wednesday afternoon. “Our team is as balanced and aware as any team I’ve ever been around. When the last out was recorded [Tuesday] night, our players in the dugout had a tremendous vibe about them. They’ve moved onto Game 7 already. We know what’s at stake. We know the importance. Nobody hung their head. We’re playing in one of the most epic World Series in history. And I think our players have appreciation for that. We want to win. We’re going to do everything we can to win. So I didn’t need to say anything to them other than encourage them, keep the mood upbeat. The players were already doing that from the last out last night.”