This World Series is a Dogfight – Unfortunately, the Dodgers are Losing

This game was absolute madness and absolutely maddening, all wrapped up in one. It had everything: Home runs, an insane strike zone, hit batters, wild pitches, blown leads, aces melting down, fans sliding into bases, ridiculous bunt attempts, and then more home runs. It was packed with sports-based agony and ecstasy – several times over, for both teams. It had so much, I don’t even know how to begin to convey what I just saw. How can I possibly use mere words that could approach the highs and lows this almost five and a half hour, 25-run game provided.

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.

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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23 thoughts on “This World Series is a Dogfight – Unfortunately, the Dodgers are Losing

  1. Indeed, Oscar, this WS is a dogfight, and we are losing.
    May I correct you in that Kershaw never had his mojo tonight. He gave up 4 hits in 4 innings with a walk and only 1 strikeout. That is not Kershaw’s mojo that we saw, that was Kershaw struggling for control of his stuff. Of course, he’s Kershaw, so you give him room to operate. This was Roberts key mistake in sending him out in the 5th inning. If it were any other pitcher, he would have replaced him, but he’s Kershaw. This Kershaw version was the Yu version that we saw the other night. Sorry, but let’s be realistic about it all. He just didn’t have it tonight and neither did the bullpen.

    Let’s talk about Jansen. The guy is not doing his job of closing out games. This is his second loss and giving up HR’s in his last 2 outings, IIRC. This is what Timmons was on about 2 years ago. Jansen doesn’t hold up well to pressure. One could surmise this about Kershaw as well. OTOH, a pitcher like Kuechel doesn’t hold up, either. Our pitching has not made the difference in these games, our bats have, though. I commend the boys in their valiant effort to come back time and time again, in spite of the pitchers being woefully deficient in giving up runs. And this is with the best bullpen in the majors!

    We could also look at it as Houston being the superior team, better hitting overall and dominating our pitching because they are so bloody damn good!

    We are no slouches, though. To play head to head with Houston requires a good overall team, and we do have that, but maybe just not quite good enough. We’ll see. This series is an amazing display of baseball at its most exciting. If we fall to them, it is not because they were lucky. They will be a force in the near future as I think Arizona will be as well as the Yanks, and Cleveland. All these teams have power and decent enough pitching to go far.

    Let’s go L.A.!!

    1. Actually Jeff, Jansen only lost last nights game. The other was a blown save. He saved on blew one and lost one. And it is not all on Jansen. Roberts has worn these guys out in these 5 games. Kershaw and Wood the only 2 starters to get into the 6th. He should never have trotted Jansen out there for the second inning anyway, but he does not trust Fields, who has not pitched since game 2 and McBrittle could not get you out. Baez is not on the roster, which I think is huge. The guy of nothing else throws BB’s. Leaving him off the roster and putting McBrittle on was a big mistake, at this point I would take Walker Buehler over McBrittle. Roberts having Kike bunt? Please, Kike has not had a sacrifice all year long and of course he bunted it right back at the pitcher…..Turner was toast. The hitters did their job. The entire pitching staff was a huge bust at precisely the wrong time.

      1. Norris,

        We are on the same page as far as Roberts goes. His mis-management and over-thinking, fixing things that ain’t broke, have gotten us in trouble.

        We also agree about Kershaw, but I refuse to believe that you have the confidence in Jansen when he is called in. He has proved to have the same disease as Kershaw, inability to close out games without giving up key runs. This is the mark of a great closer. Nerves of steel, control of his pitches. Jansen has not served up his best in this series and neither has Kershaw except for 1 game. Both are talented, both have some problems. They are not the greatest that ever was. But, baseball is a team game and 1 poor decision can decide the outcome. The players have enough to do themselves, being aware of what needs to be done and execution of batting and fielding. When management interferes with the correct playing of the game, their chances of winning will be slimmer. I believe Roberts is more of an interference than a help. His pitching decisions have always left me scratching my head. He is learning on the job, not fully formed, and is relying too much on metrics and things that are not intuitive during the actual games, not preparation. He is mechanical in his decision making. He has bad habits that he has not seen yet. Isn’t that what happened to Puig, bad habits that were corrected? Look at the season Wood put together. Something clicked in. Roberts needs this kind of insight into himself. He is very weak in the pitching area. But, the loss is usually not attributed to one person alone. This was a team failure exacerbated by poor managing decisions. Losing a game that you score 12 runs in is insane.

        1. They scored 11. Final was 12-11. Jansen saved 42 games and blew one. Yeah, I pretty much have a lot of confidence in Jansen as long as it is a 1 inning save asking him to go 2 has not turned out well for the Dodgers in this series. In the old days guys like Gossage would pitch 3 innings for the save. Pitchers today are not geared like that. Someone mentioned that in 1981 Steve Howe went the final 3 innings of game 6 to win the series. That does not happen in todays game. And I also think Roberts is too dependent on the match up thing. That’s why he brought in Maeda, but the guy has pitched 3 days in a row too.

    1. This series should be over: Dodgers in 5. But it isn’t.

      And again Cody on 3B less than two outs, they don’t score him, and we lose by one run 🙁

      1. Artieboy

        I think you mean Taylor, but I could be wrong.

        Did you hear the conversation between Taylor and the third base coach, after that play?

        Taylor thought the coach said no, but the third base coach, was saying, you got to go, you got to go!

        Taylor might have scored before that sac fly, if Joc wouldn’t have stood there, and watch his hit, until they called it fair, when it hit off the wall.

        Joc only made it to second, because he didn’t run from the on set!

        Taylor almost lapped Joc, on the next hit, and because of that, Taylor couldn’t try to score, because Joc was so close ahead of Taylor.

        And what was that play by Joc in left, he mis judged that ball!

        1. Cody after his triple.

          But Taylor was the same situation. I wish the 3B coach had sent Taylor on that double instead of holding him at 3B. Jon Smoltz was amazed at Taylor’s speed.

  2. ONe thing for sure last night, Kershaw did put his legacy in concrete last night. He will never be able to remove the stigma of being a poor post season pitcher. that narrative will never be able to be removed, I don’t care if he throws shut out baseball the rest of his career, he will be stained by this forever. I know we all like the guy but he is going to be known as “the greatest regular season pitcher and one of the largest post season busts”.

    Ed Dinger is something else, eh?

    1. True

      Who cares about Kershaw’s legacy, it is about winning games, in the post season!

      Kershaw should never be given the benefit of the doubt, in the post season!

      Hill pitched better then Kershaw did yesterday, and Hill was taken out, before he even allowed a earn run!

      The only run that scored, was because of an error on Chase!

      Kershaw is the highest paid pitcher in baseball, and the Dodgers season can never be called a success,, unless they win it all!

      And Kershaw will be opting out, so do we really want to give him a new and larger multi year contract, with his injury issues, and with the fact that Kershaw can’t be trusted to pitch well, in big important games?

      Look how Wood pitched the night before, and he has less weapons then Kershaw has, but Wood hung tough all night, in that game!

      And Wood hadn’t pitched in a very long time, but he willed, us to win, unlike Kershaw last night!

      Six earned runs, in four plus innings.

      The Astro hitters, jumped on 6 first pitches, that our pitchers threw!

      Is it asking to much of our pitchers, to get a clue after the first Astros hitter, hits a first pitch off Kershaw, for a three run HR?

      I guess not, they allowed the Astros to do this, five more times!

      1. Let’s not get too down on Kershaw. He had a great season up till he got injured. His injuries are getting to be a regular thing. Getting older, you battle the body and it’s old injuries start to mount. Kershaw is not the same player he was at the beginning of the season but he is one of the factors that got us to the WS. Same with Jansen, who I think is at least as responsible for our losing position in the WS. We just gave him the farm!

        We’re still a strong pitching club, but with a terrible tendency to give up the HR and early runs.

        1. Jeff

          I don’t want to hear any excuses for Kershaw, this is far not the only time Kershaw has blown a big game!

          Check his era in the post season.

          He is the higher paid pitcher in baseball,, and he is expected, to win big games!

          He was given a four run lead, and he just didn’t do his job!

          Wood by far, pitched better then Kershaw, and Wood has dealt with injury issues, all year, and he had not pitched for a very long time!

  3. It’s like watching a rocky movie. You want your team to win but it’s a battle to the end. No one could’ve written a better script . The movie is too long but no one wants to leave the theater. I believe the dodger should win this one, but the way it’s written right now it’s really hard to tell.

  4. Well if they are going to avoid elimination and losing, 2 things have to happen. 1. Hill has to pitch the game of his life. 2. They have to beat the best pitcher in the majors the second half of the year. Verlander is going to be pitching his ass off. It will be all hands on deck you can bet. And it is a little late to rag on anyone on this team. They are all playing hard. Yeah, Pederson caddilaced it on that double. But Taylor would not have scored on the hit to left because if you watch the replay, the ball was not hit that deep. A couple of plays on the field did not cost the team the game. They scored plenty. It was on the pitchers, all on the pitchers and because of the pitchers and bone head Dave.

    1. Michael

      I don’t want to hear any excuses for Joc, for not hustling out of the batters box!

      He should have been on third, it was bad enough when he was on second, he was almost lapped by Taylor, and if Joc wasn’t so slow, Taylor would have scored too!

      Joc of all people, shouldn’t be standing, and waiting for his hit to be called fair, he is lucky, to even be playing on this team!

      He is also so slow, and because of that, he should be hustling out of the batter’s box right away!

      And when Joc just stands there, it doesn’t make the Dodgers look good!

      That flyball, was hit to right to Reddick.

      This is on Kershaw, not all of the other pitchers!

      Kershaw is the highest paid pitcher in baseball, and he is getting paid like that, to pitch like an ace in important games, especially in the post season.

      He was given a four lead, and this is far from the only time, that Kershaw has let this team down in the post season.

      And I don’t want to hear another comparison of Kershaw’s Koufax!

      1. Ya know MJ, I really do not care what you think. His not busting out of the box did not contribute to the loss. As a matter of fact it had nothing to do with the loss at all. The loss is on the pitchers. Period. You disagree, fine, but do not presume to tell me what to think. Are you in Pederson’s head? Do you know what he was thinking as he watched that ball fly. Maybe he thought it was going foul. And who are you to judge any player. You are not on the field, you are nothing more than a fan with an opinion, same as me. How can it just be on Kershaw? Did he give up the 4 runs that Morrow allowed? And as far as me comparing Kershaw to Koufax, that is none of your damn business. I unlike you have seen both of them pitch. There is no comparison. Koufax was better. The bullpen blew 2 leads, and Kershaw blew one. Had Maeda not allowed the HR and only the two Kershaw let on in the 5th had scored, it would have been 7-6. Kershaw did not give up the game winning hit, nor did he give up the HR that made it 8-8. Your opinion is yours, you do not like what I write, fine, I am not asking you to agree with it. But don’t you ever sit there on your pedestal at home and tell me what to write or who to write about or what my opinion should be. You are the only one bashing on Pederson, yeah. he blundered, but so did Taylor, so did Roberts and a few other players. Joc had to make sure that fly ball dropped. That’s why he hesitated. And he was retreating towards the bag when he saw it drop and that’s when he took off. Yeah, he is slower than Taylor, but that has nothing to do with Joc, it has to do with the fact that Taylor is very fast. I have seen him do that to other runners too. But from now on, you do not like what I say just keep your mouth shut, because I am going to keep on commenting on what I see and not what you want me to see. Oh and by the way, Joc got a double and ended up scoring. Had he not made it to second, that would have been embarrassing, not his watching the fly ball.

      2. And another thing. I am not the one calling Kershaw one of the greatest. Someone else coined that phrase, and my only comparison of Koufax and Kershaw is that there is none. You think these guys are going to be perfect every time out. You have bitched about Joc because he is a 3 year player and should be better. You did the same about Puig. But Puig is in his 5th year and just now figuring it out. Why, because management had the patience to see something a rank amateur at judging talent like you does not have. You are by far the most opionated person on here and the one who is wrong more times than not. Me, I would love to see you learn how to spell and form a sentence…….You always put exclamation points where they do not belong.

        1. Norris, I think I am more opinionated than MJ, but I see nothing wrong with calling Kershaw great. Greatest? No.
          Joc? Get him out of my sight. I have never been a fan of his and he never demonstrated anything like Puig has except for hitting HR’s in his rookie year and still batted in the low .200’s. I would like the Dodgers to move on from him. Please don’t compare him to Puig. Very different players.

          As I write this, we are losing 1-0 and have gotten only 1 hit. Top of the 6th. Verlander looks like a machine. Hill replaced by Morrow. A bit early for Morrow, no? He got us out of a jam in the 5th. Dodger bats are going to have to wake up pretty soon or this series is over.

  5. Being a fan generally means carrying more than the usual human load of bias.

    I’ve been instructed by how much of the “We got our ace going in game five” narrative
    appears on almost all Dodger sites. (And out of the mouth of Fox analysts the night before).

    What???? Our 4.50 ERA consistently disappointing not a post-season Ace Ace (no, he’s not a choke artist; he’s a guy who runs out of gas in the post-season, and doesn’t have the mind or guile to pitch thru it at this level of competition; if he were a choke artist, he wouldn’t have had
    all the excellent innings he’s had – even against his nemesis the Cards – especially in his
    first starts in second seasons).

    Contrary to Oscar’s reporting on my mindset (ALL D fans were confident), I wasn’t confident
    when it was 4-0. I was even less confident when Dave let him pitch to Gurriel (in post-season,
    history says CK loses it quicker than anyone can imagine – especially someone like Dave who
    apparently thought the first three innings were a show of excellence, when they were, in fact,
    much different from his work in game one, and held clues to the upcoming flood), and my
    gut response to letting him have the fifth inning was OH NO!!!!!:-)

    But, I digress. I came here to issue a narrow but real apology to Yasiel, when I commented yesterday that I hadn’t seen him, in roughly a dozen important at-bats, get his barrel on the ball.

    That was accurate, as stated. Because I was away from the games when he hit his homers.
    Obviously, barrel met ball those times, as both were sorta/kinda clutch. Now if we could only get
    him, and his understudy Joc, to actually run full tilt on balls to the wall, instead of posing….and turning probable triples into routine doubles.

    I tuned out yesterday after 8-7, my mind numb with the choice to bunt Kike’. The 13-12 final
    was no surprise to anyone who has ever bet the game for a living (such as it was:-). Apparently,
    it was a surprise for Dave.

  6. The Astros are good.
    The Dodgers are good.
    Baseball can be random.
    Correa’s HR is a HR 5% of the time, at best.
    Kershaw is great.
    Kershaw had a rough inning.

    What’s so hard here?

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