Game 5: wild, entertaining, exhausting and hopefully unrepeatable


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: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 10, Marlins 9: The Braves rallied for six runs, all with two outs, in the bottom of the ninth to walk off winners on getaway day against the Marlins. The Marlins took a 6-0 lead in the fourth inning after Lewis Brinson cracked a grand slam down the left field line. Miguel Rojas hit a two-run homer in the seventh to bring the Marlins’ lead back to six runs at 8-2. The Braves entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-4, but Marlins relievers Brad Ziegler and Tayron Guerrero both melted down. Here’s what happened. It’s the Braves’ largest ninth-inning comeback in exactly eight years, when this happened:

Red Sox 5, Orioles 0: J.D. Martinez homered twice, tying teammate Mookie Betts for the major league lead in home runs with 15. Andrew Benintendi also homered and picked up three hits. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven. The Orioles had their opportunities, racking up 13 hits, but went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and only one of their 13 hits went for extra bases. The Orioles’ 13 hits were the most compiled by a team that was shut out since August 25, 2008 when the Dodgers racked up 13 while being shut out by the Phillies. It’s only the 22nd time it’s happened dating back to 1908, according to Baseball Reference.

Athletics 9, Blue Jays 2: Daniel Mengden was magnificent for the A’s, tossing seven scoreless frames on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Marcus Semien hit a two-run home run and Matt Chapman picked up three hits. The Jays committed four errors on what was a very forgettable afternoon.

Cubs 6, Reds 1: Things haven’t been going well this year for Yu Darvish, but they did go well at least on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander held the Reds to a lone run on two hits and three walks with seven punch-outs across six innings, lowering his ERA on the season to 4.95. Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez hit back-to-back homers in the second inning off of Tyler Mahle. Joey Votto was the only Red to have more than one hit.

Mets 4, Diamondbacks 1: Clay Buchholz made his first start in over a year and it went well. He held the Mets to one run, which came on Amed Rosario‘s solo home run in the top of the sixth, ultimately the hit that knocked Buchholz out of the game. Rosario added another homer in the seventh, when the Mets scored three runs to take a lead they’d never relinquish. Noah Syndergaard fanned seven in seven innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk. D-Backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt remains mired in a season-long slump. He went 1-for-4 with a single and now owns an uncharacteristic .690 OPS.

Padres 8, Pirates 5: The Padres rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth, turning a 5-4 deficit into an 8-5 lead. They rapped out five singles and benefited from an error as well. Christian Villanueva hit his 12th homer of the season, a two-run blast in the fourth inning. Austin Meadows knocked his first major league homer.

Dodgers 7, Nationals 2: This was mostly a clinic on power, as the Dodgers hit three homers, one each from Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez, and Yasiel Puig. Trea Turner hit one for the Nationals. Alex Wood pitched well, holding the Nationals to two runs on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts, but left the game after apparently injuring himself warming prior to the bottom of the seventh inning. Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs on five hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

White Sox 3, Rangers 0: This one was all Reynaldo Lopez. The 24-year-old fired eight shutout frames, yielding only two hits and two walks while striking out eight. In doing so, he lowered his ERA to 2.98. The three runs came on a solo homer from Welington Castillo in the second and a two-run Leury Garcia single in the third.

Yankees 10, Royals 1: Tyler Austin blasted a pair of homers, giving him eight on the season. Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine also homered for the Yankees in what was a drubbing of the lowly Royals. Sonny Gray went eight innings, giving up a lone run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. The Yankees now have a major league-best 30-13 record while the Royals drop to 14-32. Only the White Sox (.302) have a worse winning percentage than the Royals (.304).

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1: Jack Flaherty was phenomenal for the Cardinals, striking out 13 batters while limiting the Phillies to a run on two hits and a walk over 7 2/3 innings. 21-year-old Freddy Peralta also struck out 13 earlier this season. Before Flaherty and Peralta, the last pitcher younger than 23 years old to strike out 13 in a game was Noah Syndergaard nearly three years ago against the Diamondbacks. Aaron Nola, who has been ace-like all year for the Phillies, didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday, surrendering four runs over six innings to the Cardinals. Rhys Hoskins homered but Odubel Herrera‘s on-base streak finally ended at 45 consecutive games. It’s tied for the fourth-longest in Phillies history.

Twins 3, Brewers 1: Logan Morrison knocked in two runs with a single to right field in the bottom of the eighth, breaking a 1-1 tie. That proved to be the game-winning hit as Fernando Rodney came in and struck out the side in the top of the ninth to seal the deal.

Giants 9, Rockies 5: The Giants scored nine runs for a second consecutive day. Gorkys Hernandez, Brandon Belt, and Nick Hundley each homered, accounting for six of the nine runs. Nice. The Rockies got three hits each from Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story but it wasn’t enough. Starters Ty Blach and Tyler Anderson both had forgettable days on the mound, giving up five and four runs in 5 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings, respectively.

Angels 5, Rays 2: Shohei Ohtani continued to pitch well, holding the Rays to a pair of runs on six hits and a walk with nine strikeouts. With seven major league starts under his belt, he’s sporting a 3.35 ERA. He’s also batting .321/.367/.619. Sergio Romo started for the Rays for a second day in a row. He pitched an inning yesterday before giving way to Ryan Yarbrough. This time, he got four outs before Matt Andriese relieved him. Martin Maldonado homered for the Angels; Johnny Field went yard for the Rays. Matt Duffy collected three hits as well.

Tigers, Mariners (11 innings): Mitch Haniger hit a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extras. Jean Segura broke the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 11th with an RBI single. Tigers starter Francisco Liriano brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning but lost it when Haniger singled to center. Liriano ended up giving up the one hit and walking three while striking out five on 102 pitches over eight scoreless innings.

Astros 3, Indians 1: Lance McCullers had his best stuff working, bringing a bid for a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He ended up going seven frames, giving up just a hit and two walks with eight strikeouts. Brian McCann broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run home run off of Carlos Carrasco.