LOS ANGELES – Five takeaways from the Astros' wild, 11-inning, 7-6 win over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium:
1. Blastros come alive
Hey, look: It's the best offense in baseball! The Astros' lineup still looked mired in its postseason-long road-game malaise until late in Game 2. But in the eighth, a ground-rule double by Alex Bregman – who accounted for Houston's only run in Game 1 – kicked off a sequence that saw the Astros score at least one run in four straight frames.
A Marwin Gonzalez homer off Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth tied the game and sent it to extra innings. Back-to-back shots by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa in the 10th gave Houston a lead, then, after the Dodgers battled back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, a George Springer homer in the top of the 11th put the Astros ahead for good. The Astros head back to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday with an offense that's clicking.
2. Seager show
Corey Seager smacked a pair of hits in Game 1 after sitting out the entire NLCS with a back injury, then quashed any lingering doubts about his health in Game 2 with a two-run, opposite-field home run off Justin Verlander in the sixth. The normally reserved Seager let out a shout after giving Los Angeles a lead on what was only the Dodgers' second hit of the night off the fireballing righty. Seager did not record another hit in the game, but the absence of any obvious indications of injuries for the Dodgers' best all-around player bodes well for Los Angeles for the remainder of the World Series.
3. Five hits, four homers
The Dodgers' second run of the 10th inning was the only one they've scored in the World Series that did not come via a home run, and Enrique Hernandez's RBI single was their first hit of Wednesday night that stayed in the yard.
Joc Pederson's fifth-inning blast to deep right-center ended Verlander's fledgling no-hit bid after 4 ⅔ innings and tied the game. Chris Taylor's resilient plate appearance in the sixth ended in his second walk of the night – accounting for both the free passes Verlander issued – and put a runner on base for Seager's longball. Yasiel Puig's 10th-inning homer off Ken Giles accounted for the Dodgers' fourth run, and Charlie Culberson's unlikely blast in the 11th tallied the sixth. There's never a bad time to homer, but putting more runners on base, obviously, would generate a bit more offense for Los Angeles. And if the Astros start hitting like they can, the Dodgers will need the extra runs.
4. 'Pen was mightier
The eighth-inning run the Astros scored against Brandon Morrow ended a streak of 28 consecutive scoreless innings by the Dodgers' bullpen, and things only got worse from there. Manager Dave Roberts, never shy about hooking pitchers, pulled starter Rich Hill after only four innings before turning to Kenta Maeda, Tony Watson, Ross Stripling and Brandon Morrow, in that order. Stripling lasted only one batter, getting yanked after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh. And after Alex Bregman doubled off Morrow to start the eighth, Roberts went straight to closer Kenley Jansen to attempt a two-inning save.
But Jansen, who had looked unhittable to date in the postseason, yielded the ninth-inning Gonzalez homer that tied the game. With five relievers already used, Roberts inserted righty Josh Fields for the 10th, and Fields allowed the back-to-back homers that gave the Astros the lead. In the 11th, with his options limited, Roberts used Brandon McCarthy for the first time this postseason. McCarthy coughed up a Cameron Maybin single followed by Springer's two-run home run to take the loss.
5. Houston dynamos
Wednesday's win marked only the Astros' second road win of the postseason, and their first since their series-ending Game 4 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park in the ALDS. The flipside? They've yet to lose a home game in the playoffs. The World Series marks their first this October without home-field advantage, but it's theirs now with the series tied at one game apiece heading to Houston for Game 3. Taking even two out of three at Minute Maid Park this time around would ensure the Astros two shots at winning another game in Dodger Stadium to secure the championship.
Ted Berg, USA Today