It's truly a shame that neither Alex Wood nor Charlie Morton were able to factor in Saturday night's World Series Game 4 decision. Both shut down the other's lineup and offset the brilliance of the other.
Pederson celebrates homer
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Tied 1-1 entering the ninth inning, Ken Giles came in and did what Ken Giles often does - gave up three decisive runs that led to a 6-2 setback for the Astros, disappointing their home fans for the first time in this postseason.
The Fall Classic is now tied 2-2 and, beyond that, the outcome accomplished two major advantages for the Dodgers. The Blue Crew is now assured of returning to Dodger Stadium before the season is over. Should the Astros celebrate their first Worlds Championship this year, it will be on the same soil where their forefathers celebrated their first division title in 1980. Los Angeles has also wrested home field advantage in this series back from Houston.
Wood tossed five innings of no-hit ball at Minute Maid and tamed the first two batters in the sixth before George Springer caught a hanging curve and mashed it off the facade beyond the Crawford Boxes for an emphatic 1-0 lead.
Morton gave up just two hits over six shutout innings and had just escaped trouble in the sixth when he surrendered a one-out double to the ice-cold Cody Bellinger in the seventh. The ball would have been a homer if it had tracked slightly left but the placement prevented left fielder Marwin Gonzalez from getting into position for a catch, instead having to take a carom off the bullpen screen.
Will Harris came in and chalked up the second out but then allowed an RBI single from Logan Forsythe that tied the contest.
Brandon Morrow, Tony Watson and Chris Devenski did their thing and took the tie to the ninth inning when the love-him-or-hate-him Giles climbed the mound. The closer with 34 saves on the regular season always seems thisclose to giving up runs. Saturday, with no margin for error, Giles was what many fans feared he'd be.
Corey Seager led off with a base hit to right and Sasquatch Justin Turner drew a five-pitch walk. The beleaguered Bellinger then spanked a double that chased Seager home to break the tie. Giles left without recording an out.
Joe Musgrove entered and gave up a sacrifice fly to put Los Angeles up by two then Joc Pederson administered the knockout - a line drive homer to right that gave the Dodgers a safe 6-1 lead.
Alex Bregman socked a solo shot into the Crawfords off Kenley Jansen with two out in the ninth which prevented L.A. from posting a one-hitter, but much of the crowd was already heading to the exits by then.
Now the situation gets scarier as Game 5 will be a rematch of the Game 1 pitchers - lefthanders Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel - which became a 3-1 Dodger verdict last Tuesday. If the Astros drop that, they will need to win twice in L.A. to take the crown. Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 N.L. M.V.P., is 4-2 lifetime against the Astros and 1-1 at Minute Maid with an ERA over three.
Keuchel is 36-21 in his career at home with a 2.94 ERA. He's 1-2 this postseason with the win at home and the two losses on the road. The first six or seven innings may be a repeat of Saturday if it holds true to form. Game 5 will be Sunday night, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Central.
In other news, Cuban first baseman Yuli Gurriel will face a five-game suspension next April for making a racially insensitive gesture at Japanese-born Yu Darvish after hitting a home run against him in Friday's Game 3. The Astros say they will take his fine and give it to the Astros Foundation in an effort to expand diversity. Gurriel will also be required to take sensitivity training.
- Bob Hulsey