The roars that cascaded around jam-packed Minute Maid Park for more than five hours may have subsided by now, but the memories of the biggest win in franchise history will undoubtedly linger.
And just maybe so will Houston’s lead in this World Series.
In one of the wildest, wackiest and most compelling Fall Classic games ever, the Houston Astros out-drama-ed the Los Angeles Dodgers, coming back from big deficits not once, not twice, but three stadium-rocking times before outlasting the visitors for an 13-12 10th-inning victory that clinched the World Ser, uh, no.
Wait, it’s not over? They have to play more?
“The first thing we’re doing to do,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, “is get some sleep.”
They laid their heads on their pillows with the knowledge their dreams of winning the first World Series is franchise history is a step closer, thanks to a riveting game with more twists and turns than a cheap detective novel and one that didn’t seem to want to end.
They won’t have their orange towel-waving, lungs-baring crowd that was literally on their feet for much of Sunday’s game, but they will have ace Justin Verlander in Tuesday’s Game 6 as they are one victory away from the team’s first championship after taking a 3-2 lead in a game for the ages if not the aged. They’ll know that in previous 65 times the Series has stood 3-2, the team with the lead wins it all 43 of them. That’s good enough for Astro fans.
You’ll have to forgive all of Houston if the collective city is more than a little hoarse today. And emotionally exhausted as well. This one was epic. Capital E.
“I think this whole series has been an emotional rollercoaster,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Few games could top Houston’s 7-6 11-inning win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles when the two clubs totaled eight home runs, five of them in the extra innings, but this one did.
On a night when two pitchers with a combined four Cy Young trophies on their shelves, the teams put up 25 total runs, the most in a Series game in 20 years. Three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw got roughed up for six runs in 4 2/3 innings. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel lasted less, gone after 3 2/3 innings.
“These are just two really good teams,” Hinch said, “just throwing haymakers at each other tryingn to outlast each other.”
Not sure the nation’s collective blood pressure can take much more suspense than this thrilling Series, which has offered questionable and successful managerial moves, highs and lows out of the bullpen, aces that didn’t pitch like it, castoffs and journeymen that pitched like aces, and home runs. Cheap ones, crushed ones. Short ones, long ones.
But lots and lots of home runs, specifically a record 22 combined in these five games. Eight homers came in that Game 2. Another seven in this Game 5. Beer leagues don’t offer this many long balls.
There were lazy home runs that creeped over the wall into the Crawford Boxes seemingly a long arm’s length from home plate like Carlos Correa’s that plopped down in the second row of seats in the Astros’ pivotal four-run seventh. There were rockets like that which George Springer crushed and sent over the railroad tracks to lead off that same inning.
There were great defensive plays like Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger practically climbing into the first base seats to gather in Correa’s high foul ball in the ninth and right fielder Josh Reddick’s great break and catch on Justin Turner’s liner in the 10th. Both catchers Brian McCann and Austin Barnes caught every high-pressure pitch. All 417 of them.
There were not so wonderful plays in the field like Springer’s risky, headfirst dive that failed to corral Cody Bellinger’s sinking liner, which fell in for an RBI triple and an 8-7 Dodger lead in the seventh. But he quickly atoned with his solo blast to start the next Astros at-bat as Springer giveth and Springer taketh away. “I don’t think I’ve seen someone remedy a mistake faster,” Hinch said.
And there was hero Alex Bregman, the Astros budding star in his first full season who homered in Game 4 and on this night singled off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the 10th to score pinch-runner Derek Fisher with the game-winner well after midnight.
“I looked at Carlos before my at-bat,” Bregman said, “and he said, ‘It’s your time.”
It was sure about time because Houston thought it had won in regulation. And would have, had not LA’s Chris Taylor punched a two-out, two-strike single up the middle off Chris Devenski just after Yasiel Puig’s two-run homer to tie it yet again at 12-12.
This was no pitching masterpiece but an offensive fan’s delight with a little bit of everything.
Of the 18 starting players, 15 had a hit. Sixteen players scored a run.
Three of the Astros’ main bangers in the lineup had four RBI in the first four games of the Series, but Jose Altuve, Correa and Yuli Gurriel combined for eight hits — each had a homer —10 RBI and six runs. “They’re pretty awesome when they get going together,” Hinch said. “We’re relentless when we’re good.”
Bill Miller’s meandering, expansive strike zone made one wonder if he redraws Congressional districts in his spare time. His performance threatened to become the central plotline as batter after batter on both teams questioned, challenged, cajoled and barked at the vagaries of the home plate umpire’s calls. Eighteen struck out, most of them fuming afterward and many offering pointed critiques.
It featured all types of oddities for a game of such importance, the least of which was the oddball, shirtless dude who ran onto the field and was escorted off by the cops.
The game took some five hours and 17 minutes after the first pitch — the second longest in World Series history — but Altuve said, “I can play a 10-hour game if we are going to win.”
The Astros bested Kershaw, the best pitcher of this generation.
They trailed 3-0 in the first. They were behind 4-0 after 3 1/2 innings. They trailed 8-7. They came back from them all.
And then the Dodgers pulled out their own magic, rallying from a 12-9 deficit in the ninth inning and tying it on that Chris Taylor’s single to deflate 43,300 spent fans.
But that only set up even more heroics and more memories.
So stick it in a time capsule. Put it in your memoirs. Call your grandmother. But never ever forget it.
“It’s crazy, man,” Correa said. “I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack out there every single time.”
And now he gets to do it all over again. Game 6 is on Tuesday night.