Game 5: wild, entertaining, exhausting and hopefully unrepeatable

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The most exciting boxing match I’ve ever seen in my life happened on April 15, 1985 when Tommy Hearns took on Marvin Hagler for the middleweight title. It was exhilarating. It was electrifying. It was, perhaps, the most action-packed fight in the history of fights. It was also brutal and hard on the stomach and felt like it was animated by something wholly different than what I enjoyed about boxing. I’m glad I witnessed it but I hoped at the time that I’d never see another fight like it again.

As I write this, five hours after Alex Bregman‘s walkoff single, I feel much the same way about Game 5.

Make absolutely no mistake: Game 5 may have been the most exciting, rollercoaster ride of a baseball game any of us have ever seen or ever will see. The seven homers, the eight lead changes, and the fact that the Astros ripped victory-from-the-jaws-of-seemingly-certain defeat on not just one but, perhaps three or four occasions set this game apart from any other World Series game I can remember. It was an instant classic, right up there with Game 6 in 1975, Game 1 of 1988, Game 6 of 2011, Game 7 of 2001 and Game 6 of 1986. It will — and should — feature prominently on highlight reels and in the memories of any baseball fan who was fortunate enough to witness it. I went to bed and tried to sleep after it was over but managed only about three restless hours because the game strung me out like Christmas lights.

It also, in some hard-to-define way, felt wrong. It felt like the product of a tear in the fabric of baseball relativity. One that I hope was a mere anomaly. Something special for having visited itself upon us, but one which I hope is not repeated for some time.

I don’t know if the baseball is juiced or if, as the players are suggesting, it’s too slick, but every time the ball came off the bat it seemed as if it was going to fly at least 385 feet. It felt like watching a video game. Every time a new reliever was brought into the game he felt as if he was already three quarters of a tank down and probably was. It felt like watching a slaughter. Something in the mind of Dave Roberts, a manager known for his calm resolve, broke, causing him to call on Brandon Morrow despite saying he wouldn’t, leading to disastrous results. It felt like watching a man lose his mind. A fan ripped a souvenir ball out of his companion’s hand and angrily threw it on the field in an ugly act that looked like it ended a friendship. Maybe all of the dramatic shifts in momentum were too much for some folks to take.

Maybe it was too much for me to take too. In addition to it messing with my ability to sleep, it had me sitting here thinking stuff I rarely if ever think. It had me wondering if baseball is broken in some way. If, in 2017, the balance between power and finesse, action and repose, strategy and abandon is somehow off. If pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel look utterly helpless, if a game dominated by bullpens can’t produce a reliever capable of putting out a fire, if neither of the two best teams in baseball can sustain momentum for more than a half inning and if a game I have come to love for its steady rhythm, building drama and exquisite balance can’t be counted on to deliver any of that, has it not lost its very gravity? And if it has, what do we have to cling on to?

But then I breathe. And I remember that this is just one game. That after a day off, we stand just as good a chance of a two-and-a-half hour, 2-1 pitchers duel in Game 6 as we do anything else. That, like so many things in life, Game 5 may have been a tumultuous, stomach-churning experience, but when we all calm down we will be happy that we were lucky enough to experience it.

But, like Hagler-Hearns, I think it’s excusable for us to hope, at least a little bit, that we never experience a a thing like it again.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Phillies 13, Mets 7: Philly snaps its seven-game losing streak thanks to a two-run homer from Maikel Franco and bombs from Rhys HoskinsJean Segura and Jay Bruce. Their 13 runs here almost matched their total number of runs — 15 — scored during their losing streak. I’m less interested in the win, though, than I am in this quote from Gabe Kapler:

“We executed on our game plan to keep things light, to come in with a little swagger. Sometimes a little swagger pre-game leads to swagger in-game. I think we got some of that back.”

I wasn’t aware that one can formulate and execute a “game plan” to simply relax and I had no idea that swagger was something one turns on and turns off at will, but you learn things every day. Either that or Kapler is a bottomless source of cliches translated from English to Kaplerese and back to English. Could be either one.

As for the Mets, welp, what else can you say about this dumpster fire of a franchise?

Red Sox 6, White Sox 5: Sox win! It was a seesaw affair for much of this game, with Chicago taking leads and Boston tying it. The Chisox took a two-run lead into the bottom half of the seventh when Mookie Betts hit a solo homer to make it 5-4, Eduardo Núñez hit an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to tie it and then Marco Hernández hit a bases-loaded infield single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bosox the walkoff win. It was the second straight walkoff home walkoff win for Boston, which has won nine of 12.

Indians 3, Royals 2: This one was a seesaw game too — just a smaller seesaw, perhaps from a playground more geared toward toddlers than bigger kids — also won with a walkoff. The walkoff, though, was a lot more of a big boy walkoff than the one in the Sox game, as this one was a homer, off the bat of Jason Kipnis in the tenth inning. The Indians have won four in a row and at 15-6 they have the American League’s best record in the month of June. Their once double digit division deficit is now down to seven and a half.

Yankees 10, Blue Jays 8: Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton each hit three- run homers — it was Stanton’s first of the year — to stake the Yankees to a 10-2 lead after six and to back CC Sabathia‘s six innings of two-run ball. Things got a bit more interesting after Sabathia left, with Jonathan Holder giving up five on a Freddy Galvis grand slam and a sol shot to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. without recording an out, but his efforts notwithstanding, eight-run leads are hard to blow. The Yankees have hit homers in 27 straight games which ties a big league record set by the 2002 Texas Rangers.

Cubs 8, Braves 3: Julio Teherán has been a stabilizing force in the Braves rotation of late but last not he got rocked, digging a seven-run hole by the fifth inning that the Braves didn’t come close to climbing out of. Three of those runs were knocked in by Willson Contreras who homered, singled in a run and grounded out to plate another. After the homer, he and Braves catcher Tyler Flowers jawed at each other and benches briefly cleared, so that was fun:

The reason for the jawing was that, just before the homer, Contreras took issue with a called strike and said something to the umpire. Contreras said that Flowers inserted himself into the conversation, so when he hit the ball out he turned back to both Flowers and the ump and said something himself. Whatever. I’m mostly just shocked that a Braves catcher got cranky after an opposing homer and it wasn’t Brian McCann.

Anyway, the top six batters in the Cubs lineup each drove in runs, which was more than enough support for Jon Lester who allowed only two unearned run in six. Chicago turned its half-game lead in the NL Central into a one-game lead over idle Milwaukee.

Rockies 2, Giants 0: Jon Gray blanked the Giants out for six and three relievers each blanked them for an inning to finish the six-hit shutout. David Dahl‘s two-run homer in the third was all the offense in the game and all the Rockies needed.

Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 5: The Dodgers led 3-0 before the Diamondbacks even came to bat, but Christian Walker‘s first inning three-run homer started the game anew. Walker, by the way, now has three homers off of Kershaw in his career. In six total at bats. Baseball, man.

In the second Arizona took the lead when Zack Greinke homered off of Clayton Kershaw:

Arizona would hold that lead until the Dodgers tied it in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk. The Snakes would plate four in the eighth, though, with David Peralta‘s RBI single putting them ahead, Nick Ahmed hitting a sac fly and then Tim Locastro hit a two-run single.

The play of the game, though, didn’t come from a ballplayer, it came from this fan who dove for a foul ball, had his pants fall down, then got kicked out of the ballpark in front of his girlfriend and God and everyone. Let’s do this Zapruder-style:

Live your best life, people. Always be living your best life.