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In what seems like something that happened a week ago, Clayton Kershaw took the ball out to the mound for this pivotal fifth game of the World Series. The Dodgers and Astros are unbelievably matched as equals, but every Dodger fan felt confident that the game was in the bag. Surely the man who had overcome his postseason demons in Game 1 would continue his march into Dodgers World Series history as one of the greats by the time this game was over.
The Dodgers certainly got off to a great start. They scored three runs in the first inning on walks and singles. Kershaw started out well enough also. He held the Astros scoreless through the first three innings, and that was the last time the Dodgers felt comfortable all night. The Dodgers padded their lead with another run in the fourth, putting them ahead 4-0, but the extended rally and Astros pitching change may have caused the half inning to run too long. In my opinion, Kershaw cooled off while waiting, and it cost him. He lost his mojo and before we knew it, the Dodgers lost their lead.
Kershaw walked the first batter he saw in the fourth, gave up a single and a double, and the Astros had their first run. He stopped throwing his curveball, looked lost, and then he gave up a three run home run. The four run lead was gone, and the game was tied.
No worries. In the fifth, Cody Bellinger (batting fifth tonight) remained hot and blasted a three run home run to give the Dodgers a 7-4 lead. The good guys were once again ahead, and were on their way to victory.
Kershaw was forgiven, and Dave Roberts sent him back out for the bottom of the fifth. The trouble was, after getting two quick outs, Kershaw walked two in a row. Usually reliable Kenta Maeda was brought in, and he immediately gave up a home run. Lead erased, game tied at seven apiece. These two teams were just getting started.
The sixth inning was normal, and then both teams lit the scoreboard again in the seventh. Justin Turner (tonight’s DH) doubled, and Dave Roberts made his first boneheaded move of the night. Channeling Don Mattingly, Roberts had Enrique Hernandez bunt. Kike never bunts! Besides that, no sober and coherent manager asks his clean up hitter to bunt, but Roberts did exactly that.
Of course Kike bounced it right back at the pitcher, and JT was thrown out at third. Naturally, Cody Bellinger hit a triple next, and instead of two runs scoring, only one came across. The Dodgers led 8-7, with one run left in the dust between second and third. That bumbled move would come back to haunt the Dodgers.
Roberts made his second bonehead decision of the night by bringing in tired and overused Brandon Morrow in the bottom of the seventh. He compounded it by not having anyone warm up behind Morrow as a contingency. Morrow gave up a home run to the fist batter he saw, and the game was tied at 8-8.
Clearly Morrow had nothing on his pitches. Watching him “pitch”, anyone could see the man was out of gas, but Roberts left him in. Morrow surrendered a single and then a double. The Astros retook the lead 9-8, but Roberts left the dead armed pitcher in for more. Carlos Correa hit a two run home run, and finally Roberts pulled him, but the damage was done. The Astros were up 11-8.
I wrote a column after Game 3 asking if Dave Roberts is mismanaging the Dodgers into losing the World Series. He’s now tilted me to settle on yes, that’s exactly what he’s doing. If the Dodgers pull this series out, it will be despite Roberts’ game-managing, not because of it.
The Dodgers and Astros swapped runs in the eighth, and the score was 12-9 Astros. Plenty of other teams could be counted out when down by three runs going into the ninth inning, but these Dodgers just don’t lie down and die. They fight and scrap until the last out. They did it all season, and that’s what they did again tonight.
Cody started off the ninth with a walk, and then Yasiel Puig hit his second homer of the series. He channeled Kirk Gibson, hitting a short-swing, one-armed, home run over the wall in right field. It was beautiful. For the second time in the series, Puig hit a late inning dinger that brought the Dodgers within one run.
Austin Barnes doubled, and Chris Taylor singled him in. Both teams and their fan bases had been through incredible ups and downs, and after a brutal and magnificent nine innings, they both had twelve runs under their belts.
What we had at that point was a World Series tied at two games apiece, with 24 runs scored in Game 5 across five hours, and the whole ball of wax was basically reduced to a 0-0 tie. Who would score the one run that could tilt the series at three games to two?
The Dodgers couldn’t get anything going except an Andre Ethier single in the tenth, so Kenley Jansen trotted out to the mound for his second inning of work, hoping to shut down the Astros one more time and give his team another shot at victory.
Jansen got two quick outs, and then the wheels came off. He hit Brian McCann on the hand and then walked George Springer. The Astros had a man in scoring position and Jansen’s tightrope was shrinking beneath him.
Alex Bregman, who had previously tagged Jansen with a game tying home run came up with the game in the balance. Jansen gave up a single and Orange Juice Park went wild. The Astros fans jumped to their feet, the winning run crossed the plate, and the Dodgers filed silently into their clubhouse, suddenly in the position of must-win for the next two games.
Monday will be a travel day. Game 6 will be Halloween night, and why not? Of course this crazy series will have a game played on the spookiest night of the year. Stay tuned, Dodgers fans. This is the sport that invented the saying “It aint over till it’s over”, and that is definitely the case with these two teams.