We start today with the two best words in sports: GAME SEVEN. And that’ll go down tonight at Dodger Stadium, but in order to get to a Game 7, the Dodgers had to bounce back from a crushing loss in Game 5 and actually win Game 6. And do it against Justin Verlander, who has been an absolute machine since coming over in the trade from Detroit and had an ERA below 0.50 in potential series clinching games.
And they did. Somehow, the team that lost when they had a 4-run lead and Clayton Kershaw on the mound, picked themselves up, and managed to beat Verlander with Rich Hill on the mound. And you know why? Because Hill was rock solid. As he has been all postseason.
But you can’t tell me that Dodger fans weren’t TRIPPING after George Springer came to the plate in the top of the third.
And just like that, Houston was on the board first. 1-0 Astros. That had to feel like a gut punch, eh Dodger honks? Especially since dude hit it about 1,000 feet. And with Alex Bregman coming up next, you had to be thinking that this was the start of the floodgates opening up. But Hill got Bregman to ground out to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Verlander was cruising. Just dominating the Dodger hitters. The way he was going, there was almost no doubt, that one run was going to be all he needed. And then Dodger danger struck again in the top of the fifth. Houston’s Brian McCann singled to lead off the inning and that was followed by a Marwin Gonzalez double. Now you’ve got second and third with none out, with Josh Reddick at the plate. And Hill fell behind 3-0, but somehow, dug deep, battled back and struck him out. An enormous moment, because not only did he get that out, but he then got to face Justin Verlander, and struck him out too.
Hill walked Springer and then Dave Roberts made one of the biggest calls of his life. He went down to the bullpen for Brandon Morrow. You remember Brandon Morrow, right? The guy who showed up in Game 5, threw six pitches, and gave up four runs. And Roberts went right back to him in a crucial situation. If it works, it’s genius. It shows total confidence in your guys. And if it doesn’t, it’s the dumbest move ever. But it worked. Morrow got Bregman to ground out and end the inning. He went from having no arm on Sunday to having heat last night. Huge from Roberts to put him right back in and trust the guys who got him there and total redemption for Morrow.
Morrow came back out in the sixth, got Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa 1-2 and then gave up a single to Yuli Gurriel. Roberts came back out again, turning to Tony Watson to face McCann. And Watson immediately dotted McCann, but then he got Gonzalez to line out to second. The Dodger bullpen did it again. Gascans in H-Town, lights out back home at Chavez.
And then the Dodgers came up with their 8-9-1 hitters against Verlander in the bottom of the sixth. Austin Barnes led off with a single. Chase Utley, who was hitless in the postseason, didn’t get a hit, but he got hit. And in stepped Chris Taylor.
Chris Freaking Taylor. Clutchest cat around. Of course he was driving in a run to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. John Smoltz, who is an unbelievable analyst wondered why you don’t ask Taylor to bunt, move the runners over and put additional pressure on Verlander. If it were almost anyone else, I’d agree. But you don’t take the bat out of the hand of Chris Freaking Taylor. Dave Roberts didn’t and it paid off. And then Corey Seager chased that with a deep ball that looked like it was going out, but ended up being sac fly that scored Utley. 2-1 Dodgers. And those two runs came from their 8 and 9 hitters. Against Verlander! Incredible.
Almost as incredible as Joc Pedersen coming up in the bottom of the seventh.
I’m not sure what as more impressive, Pedersen’s homer or his celebration as he went around the bases. Dude was so amped and pounding his chest so hard, I thought he was going to crack a rib. So it was 3-1 heading into the top of the 8th and Dave Roberts turned to the bullpen again. But not just the bullpen, he turned to Kenley Jansen for a six out save.
And you know every Dodger fan was freaking out about that. The guy’s giving up a run in three straight appearances and now you’re asking him to get a six out save. As with Morrow, if it works, it’s genius and if it doesn’t, Roberts is an idiot. And it worked. Kenley Jansen looked like Kenley Jansen again. 1-2-3, 1-2-3 and it was over. 3-1 Dodgers. The Dodger bullpen is back. The Dodger confidence is back. Game 7 tonight. A World Series for the ages, and you know Game 7 will deliver tonight.