One of the age old questions in baseball is whether momentum is a real thing or not. The sabermetricians will tell you that it does not exist. They’ll laugh at you and call you an idiot for even suggesting it. They’ll argue that momentum goes in the same make believe baseball category as grit and playing the game the right way. Then again these are the same guys that believe in the luck stat (BABIP). Luck is not a tangible thing. You can’t hold luck in your hands as much as you can’t hold momentum. These guys will tell you that momentum isn’t real yet hands to god luck is.
Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum. The old-school baseball heads. Those old gritty guys that look like the crypt keeper because they’ve been playing baseball for like 70 years will tell you without wavering that momentum exists. It’s as real as the lost art of base stealing, bunting, and starting pitchers going the distance. The late great Connie Mack would tan your hide if he ever heard you say this, they would explain.
Which side is correct? Both are correct and both are incorrect. I do believe that momentum does exist but it can’t be quantified with a start or number. The Dodgers grabbed that momentum swing on Saturday night in their 6-2 win over the Astros in game 4 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park. Let me paint the picture for you before the Dodgers took back control of the World Series which is now tied at 2-2.
The Dodgers won the first game of the World Series by a 3-1 score behind a dominant Clayton Kershaw start (7 IP 1ER 0BB 11K) and two home runs from
Corey Seager Chris Taylor and Justin Turner. Game 2 was a heartbreaking insane fueled loss that tied the series at 1-1. The Astros scored two runs in the eighth and ninth innings including a game-tying home run off of Kenley Jansen (His first blown-save of his postseason career) to send the game into extra innings. It went 11 frames and the Astros scored four more runs hitting three more long balls.
The entire game was an example of how crazy baseball can be, and this was game 2 of the World Series. There was a ball that hit off the brim of Chris Taylor’s hat. Chris Devenski’s errant pick-off throw hit umpire Laz Diaz. There were a record 8 home runs hit, four from each club. In the end the Astros won 7-6 and tied the series.
Momentum status: Lost-Dodgers
Things got even worse for the Dodgers as the series shifted to Houston. Yu Darvish lasted only 1.2 innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits as the Dodgers fell behind 4-0 in the second inning. The offense could only muster three runs on four hits off of Lance McCullers Jr. and the boys in blue dropped game 3 by a 5-3 score. Cody Bellinger struck out 4 times in game 3. The Astros took the series lead 2-1.
Momentum stats: grave dug-Dodgers
Things looked super bleak for the Dodgers coming into game 4. With Alex Wood on the mound (who has pitched just once in the last calendar month) countering Charlie Morton it looked like the Dodgers were in serious trouble. Another loss would put them down 3-1 in the series. Not an insurmountable deficit to overcome but definitely difficult to do. Game 4 seemed like a must win for the Dodgers.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to another momentum destroying World Series loss….The Dodgers rallied. They rallied like they have all season long. First of all Alex Wood turned in a fantastic performance. Wood tossed 5.2 innings of one-run one-hit ball. He allowed just one hit (George Springer solo home run) and struck out three. Unfortunately when Wood was lifted with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, the Dodger bats had yet to figure out Charlie Morton and were down 1-0.
Then they rallied. Even after they had a runner thrown out at the plate on a contact play (Austin Barnes) they brushed themselves off and attacked in the seventh inning. In that frame Cody Bellinger (who worked on going the other way during BP) finally got off the schneid smacking an opposite field double. Two outs later with Bellinger still standing at second base Logan Forsythe’s RBI single plated Bellinger to tie the game 1-1. You could feel that momentum churning back to the Dodger’s favor.
With the game tied at 1-1 the Dodger bullpen took things over providing more effective innings. They’ve done it all postseason long. That allowed the Dodger bats to break through in the top of the ninth. Seager singled through the shift, and after a Justin Turner walk, Bellinger again doubled to score pinch-runner Charlie Culberson and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
With the lead the Dodgers kept adding insurance runs off the Houston bullpen. Austin Barnes sacrifice fly made it 3-1. Then the big blast came from Joc Pederson with a three-run home run that put the Dodgers ahead 6-1. The Dodgers would go onto win 6-2.
Momentum status: Found-Dodgers
After the game as the Dodgers were high-fiving the Dodger’s game 5 starter Clayton Kershaw went to the mound and pretended to throw a pitch. Oh and Kershaw is pitching in game 5 against Dallas Keuchel as the Dodgers try to take a 3-2 series lead. The win means that the World Series is coming back to Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers World Series game 5 Lineup
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 29, 2017
Is momentum real? I don’t know but maybe you should ask the Dodgers. I think they would agree that it is a thing and they grabbed it by the balls. They’re just two wins away from winning the World Series.