The Astros and Dodgers combined for eight home runs in Game 2 of the World Series


Game 2 of the World Series was precisely the kind of game that the phrase “it ain’t over till it’s over” was invented to describe. Corey Seager hit one out in the sixth inning, and we thought it was over; Marwin Gonzalez responded with a go-ahead homer in the ninth, then Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa took the lead with back-to-back bombs, and we thought it was finished; Yasiel Puig belted another one in the 10th, then tied the game with Enrique Hernandez‘s RBI single and nope, wouldn’t you know it, George Springer still had another dinger up his sleeve.

The Astros’ and Dodgers’ combined efforts pushed the final count to eight home runs. They made the win probability chart look like a pathological liar trying desperately to bluff his way through a lie detector test. Prior to Wednesday’s insane finish, no World Series competitors had ever combined for as many as eight home runs in a single game, and no regular season or postseason teams featured five homers in extra innings, either.

Granted, not all home runs are created equal, even in a playoff game as nuts as this one. Here are the three home runs that helped changed the momentum during the Astros’ eventual 7-6 win:

1. Corey Seager’s two-run shot in the sixth inning.

The Dodgers weren’t going to win this game on pitching alone. Rich Hill was only good for four innings and the club’s rock-solid bullpen finally started to crumble against the Astros’ lineup. Their best hope for pulling off another win? Getting to Justin Verlander, which is just what Corey Seager did. He followed Joc Pederson‘s fifth-inning homer (a gravity-defying knock that only clears the wall 16% of the time, per Statcast) with a 383-foot blast in the sixth inning, providing the Dodgers with a much-needed one-run lead.

2. Marwin Gonzalez’s game-tying 398-footer in the ninth.

Kenley Jansen was three outs away from a 2-0 lead in the World Series when Marwin Gonzalez approached the plate. Three more outs, and the Dodgers would have preserved their winning streak at Dodger Stadium this postseason. Three more outs, and the Dodgers would be halfway to their second World Series sweep, denying the Astros yet another chance to clinch their first Fall Classic game.

Gonzalez put all of those thoughts to bed when he spotted an 0-2 cutter hanging out in the middle of the strike zone. He punched it nearly 400 feet to center field to tie the game and, thanks to a shutdown inning from Ken Giles, send it to extras.

Per Baseball Reference, he’s just the 10th player to hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning — and the first visiting player to do so in 42 years.

3. George Springer’s go-ahead solo homer in the 11th.

George Springer hit the home run that won it all, but there were so many other interesting, heart-stopping home runs between the ninth and 11th innings. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa regained the lead in the 10th after becoming the first World Series players to club back-to-back dingers. Yasiel Puig manufactured his second postseason home run off of Giles and carefully laid his bat on the ground before jogging around the bases. Even Charlie Culberson gave the Dodgers some last-minute hope with his solo home run in the 11th.

And then there was Springer, whose two-run, 389-foot homer off of Brandon McCarthy was arguably one of the most important home runs in franchise history. It didn’t matter (much) that he struck out four times in Game 1. It didn’t matter that his head was cut off due to some oddly-placed in-game advertisement. From now on, he’ll be known as the guy who clinched the Astros’ first World Series win — and regardless of how the rest of this series shakes out, that’s a pretty good thing to be remembered for.

Keep in mind, we’re only through the first two games of the World Series and we’ve already been treated to a 2.5-hour pitcher’s duel and an 11-inning slugfest. With the series headed back to Houston for Games 3 through 5, who knows what else lies in store.

Consider the Concrete Donut

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Ben Schulman wrote a long, interesting article about stadium architecture over at The Hardball Times today. He asks us to consider the old concrete donut stadiums — multipurpose parks like Three Rivers and The Vet — and to think about what we have gained by their near-extinction. And what we’ve lost.

The article starts out with what I feared would be too much misplaced nostalgia for the Brutalist, functional places that no longer exist outside of Oakland, with the now de rigueur references to astroturf and weird 1970s baseball. It backs away from that early on, though, and presents what I feel is a thoughtful look at the various approaches to building a ballpark. Stadium geeks and architecture geeks will find much to love here.

From a personal perspective, I have a love/hate relationship with newer parks. I spent a good deal of time going to places like Riverfront Stadium when I was a kid and do not miss them at all. But I also think there have been a lot of missteps in the last 25 years or so too.

Most new parks are pleasant and comfortable places to take in a ballgame, but so many of them are totally unimaginative and uninspiring from an architectural point of view. I am not fan of nostalgia, and so many of them — particularly the ones built in the 90s — were fueled by a great deal of misguided retro-ism that looks backwards. I suspect this is the case because either (a) no one had the guts or vision to look forward; and/or (b) they felt they could make easier bucks by catering to people who think everything went to hell once Eisenhower left office than by doing something bold. To be fair, there are examples of newer parks that eschew the faux old-timey vibe to greater degrees — Target Field in Minneapolis and Marlins Park in Miami come to mind — and I tend to prefer those to more backward-looking places. Again, architecturally speaking.

I think the sweet spot — and the linked article touches on this a bit — are ballparks which think bigger than the bland and dreary functionalism of the 1960s and 70s but which eschew derivative, traditionalist approaches. Parks which were built with then-modern sensibilities and saw their vision through without compromise. Dodger Stadium is a fine, modernist example of this. So too is Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, about which I wrote a few years ago. They had a great opportunity to do this in Chicago in the late 80s but muffed it. I think Marlins Park could fall into that category if (a) there is ever anything approaching memorable baseball there; and (b) if they stop being afraid of its bold aspects and stop trying to turn it into a vanilla monument to its vanilla owner. The common denominator, I suppose, is that these parks weren’t and aren’t trying to cater to the childhoods of local fans.

Anyway, good read on a slow news day.