Astros, Dodgers to face off in 2017 World Series
After several missed opportunities in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers looked to put away the Chicago Cubs for good in Game 5. After grabbing a 3-0 series lead, the Dodgers hit a speed bump when they were held to two runs by Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis in a 3-2 loss.
The Dodgers handed the ball to left-hander Clayton Kershaw to finish off the Cubs. Facing elimination, the Cubs called on trade acquisition José Quintana to try forcing a Game 6. Quintana put his team behind early when Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger lined a pitch into the right-field corner for an RBI double and an early 1-0 Dodgers lead. Quintana’s struggles would continue in the second when he faced left fielder Enrique Hernandez, who took him deep to straightaway center field for a solo home run, a precursor to what was still to come.
In the third, following a run-scoring single by third baseman Justin Turner, Hernandez stepped to the plate again. With the bases loaded, facing reliever Héctor Rondón. Hernandez drove a grand slam just over the right-field wall, silencing the Wrigley Field crowd and giving the Dodgers a commanding 7-0 lead.
As the Cubs pitching staff went down in flames, Kershaw was nearly untouchable on the other side. He dominated the Cubs for six innings, allowing only one run on a Kris Bryant home run before giving way to the bullpen in the seventh.
In the top of the ninth, Hernandez sought to join a very exclusive club of major leaguers when he stepped to the plate, looking for his third home run of the night. He etched his name into the record books forever when he drove reliever Mike Montgomery’s pitch deep to left center, for a historic two-run home run and an 11-1 Los Angeles lead. Closer Kenley Jansen came on for the ninth and set the Cubs down in order to secure the Dodgers’ first World Series appearance since 1988. Justin Turner and Chris Taylor were named co-MVPs for the series.
After six thrilling games, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees were set for a Game 7 where the winner takes all. The Astros set their foes on their heels in the first two games, before the Yankees made a statement by winning Games 3, 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium. Facing elimination, the Astros rode Justin Verlander’s dominant performance in Game 6 to force a final game for the American League pennant, and the right to meet the Dodgers in the World Series.
Right-hander Charlie Morton drew the starting assignment in the Astros’ biggest game of the year, while CC Sabathia was called on by the Yankees. Both sides were scoreless through three innings, when Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth.
Sabathia got ahead 0-2, but was unable to put Gattis away. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Gattis took a hanging slider far over the left-field wall for a booming solo home run. While Sabathia was not particularly sharp in his 3 1/3 innings of work, his replacement Tommy Kahnle was not much better. After relieving Sabathia in the fourth with little issue, Kahnle struggled through a taxing fifth inning.
MVP candidate José Altuve took a Kahnle pitch to right field for a solo home run to extend the Houston lead to 2-0. Later, with two men on, catcher Brian McCann lined a ball to the right-field wall to score both men and give Houston a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Morton frustrated the Yankee hitters for five scoreless innings before manager A.J. Hinch called on Lance McCullers Jr. to come out of the Houston bullpen. The Astros’ usually reliable relief pitching had struggled mightily throughout the series but McCullers himself had struggled in the second half of the season while battling injuries, before turning in a dominant Game 4 performance. McCullers gave
Hinch exactly what he was looking for as he sent the Yankees into the offseason with four shutout innings of relief. In the ninth, McCullers got Greg Bird to fly out to center field for the final out, setting off a raucous celebration at Minute Maid Park.
The win locked up Houston’s first American League pennant in franchise history and secured the Astros’ first World Series appearance since 2005.