Getty Images

Astros take first World Series win with a wild 7-6 comeback in Game 2

12 Comments

The Astros don’t have a guaranteed championship title yet, but you can’t say they’re never won a World Series game. Marwin Gonzalez sparked a stunning rally in the ninth inning of Game 2 on Wednesday, going deep against the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen before George Springer cemented the 7-6 win with his second postseason home run in the 11th.

With Verlander on the mound, the Dodgers knew this was going to be a tough one to win, even with the benefit of home-field advantage. They were stifled through 4 2/3 no-hit innings as Verlander fried the strike zone with 42 strikes, whiffing five of 10 batters before Joc Pederson broke up his bid with a game-tying two-out home run in the fifth.

That wasn’t enough for the Dodgers, who returned in the sixth with Corey Seager’s two-run, 383-foot blast. (No one, it should be noted, was more thrilled by this than Clayton Kershaw.) Verlander hadn’t given up more than a double since Game 4 of the ALDS, when Andrew Benintendi scored a fifth-inning solo shot in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Astros.

The home runs could not have been more timely. Rich Hill struggled to replicate the same kind of dominance that powered Clayton Kershaw’s Game 1 win on Tuesday. He started the game with a seven-pitch walk to George Springer and worked into a jam in the third inning, issuing base hits to Josh Reddick and George Springer before Alex Bregman plated a run on a line drive to left field. The fourth inning was another mixed bag; the Astros put a runner in scoring position thanks to a pair of walks from Hill and a passed ball by Austin Barnes, but the southpaw shut down their rally with a pair of three-pitch strikeouts to Gonzalez and Verlander.

It wasn’t enough to hold the Astros back forever, though. Hill made his exit after four innings, leaving the remaining five innings to the bullpen. Kenta Maeda, Tony Watson, Ross Stripling and Brandon Morrow combined for a scoreless fifth, sixth and seventh, but just as they were preparing to wind down and clinch the win, Houston caught another break in the eighth. Bregman lined a double into the right field corner that just tipped off the edge of Yasiel Puig‘s glove, causing Puig to chuck his glove at the warning track in frustration.

Kenley Jansen promptly replaced Morrow, but Altuve’s groundout moved Bregman to third base and Correa’s RBI single plated another run. It was the first run the bullpen had given up in an MLB-record 28 postseason innings and the first Jansen had given up all month. In the ninth, Gonzalez did one better, mashing a 398-foot home run to tie the game.

The real kicker came in extras. Altuve wasted no time putting up his first World Series home run to take the lead in the top of the 10th, while Correa provided the exclamation point to the Astros’ rally with his own 427-foot blast, marking the first back-to-back extra-inning homers in World Series history.

The Dodgers retaliated with Puig’s solo home run in the bottom of the inning, tying the game up again with Enrique Hernandez‘s two-out RBI single. In the 11th, with Dave Roberts fresh out of relievers not named Brandon McCarthy, George Springer returned for the go-ahead home run. One Charlie Culberson home run and Chris Devenski game-ending strikeout later, the Astros secured the long-awaited conclusion to their four-hour, 19-minute contest.

The series is headed back to Houston on Friday, where Yu Darvish will attempt to regain the lead against Lance McCullers. The Astros, unlike their World Series rivals, have yet to lose at home this October. Game time is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET; luckily for all those in attendance, the forecast is much more temperate.

Major League Baseball threatens to walk away from Minor League Baseball entirely

Getty Images
1 Comment

The war between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball escalated significantly last night, with Minor League Baseball releasing a memo accusing Major League Baseball of “repeatedly and inaccurately” describing the former’s stance in negotiations and Major League Baseball responding by threatening to cut ties with Minor League Baseball entirely.

As you’re no doubt aware, negotiations of the next, 10-year Professional Baseball Agreement, which governs the relationship between the big leagues and the minors — and which is set to expire following the 2020 season — have turned acrimonious. Whereas past negotiations have been quick and uncontroversial, this time Major League Baseball presented Minor League Baseball with a plan to essentially contract 42 minor league baseball teams by eliminating their major league affiliation while demanding that Minor League Baseball undertake far more of the financial burden of player development which is normally the responsibility of the majors.

That plan became public in October when Baseball America reported on it, after which elected officials such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren began weighing in on the side of Minor League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball were not happy with all of that and, on Wednesday, Manfred bashed Minor League Baseball for taking the negotiations public and accused Minor League Baseball of intransigence, saying the minors had assumed a “take it or leave it” negotiating stance.

Last night Minor League Baseball bashed back in the form of a four-page public memo countering Manfred’s claims, with point-point-by-point rebuttals of Major League Baseball’s talking points on various matters ranging from stadium facilities, team travel, and player health and welfare. You can read the memo in this Twitter thread from Josh Norris of Baseball America.

Major League Baseball responded with its own public statement last night. But rather than publicly rebut Minor League Baseball’s claims, it threatened to simply drop any agreement with Minor League Baseball and, presumably start its own minor league system bypassing MiLB entirely:

“If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table. Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

So, in the space of about 48 hours, Manfred has gone from being angry at the existence of public negotiations to negotiating in public, angrily.

As for Minor League Baseball going public itself, one Minor League Baseball owner’s comments to the Los Angeles Times seems to sum up the thinking pretty well:

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams. That’s rich.”

Things, it seems, are going to get far worse before they get better. If, in fact, they do get better.