Five Moments that Decided the 2017 World Series
A look back at five deciding moments that helped the Astros win their first World Series Championship.
The Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a thrilling seven game series to win the franchise’s first World Series Championship on Wednesday night.
George Springer was named World Series MVP after a monstrous series in which he hit five home runs, Carlos Correa proposed to his girlfriend on the field during a postgame interview (she said Yes!) and the Astros celebrated their title in style.
As for the Dodgers? This year’s team was the one that was supposed to break through and win the World Series. They had a record-breaking regular season and dispatched the Diamondbacks and Cubs on their way to the Fall Classic. Instead, their World Series title drought continues and the second guessing begins. There’s always next year, right?
Here are five moments from the 2017 World Series that ultimately helped the Astros win the franchise’s first title.
- Dave Roberts pulling Rich Hill in Game 2
It’s easy to second guess managerial decision in postseason games, particularly in the World Series, when every decision is crucial. But Dave Roberts’ decision to pull Hill off the mound after he had only thrown 60 pitches really hampered the Dodgers’ bullpen for the remainder of that game and the series.. Roberts does not like his pitchers to go through the same lineup three times unless they have to. It’s become commonplace for managers to have quick hooks during the postseason, but it felt like at times, Roberts had too quick of a hook and that ultimately came back to haunt him.
2. Kenley Jansen blowing a six-out save in Game 2
The World Series taught us that Kenley Jansen is human. Entering the Fall Classic, Jansen and the entire Dodgers’ bullpen were unhittable. However, Jansen was summoned for a six-out save in Game 2 of the World Series but proceeded to blow the save. It was an understandable decision by Roberts to turn to Jansen for the final six outs of the ballgame, but pitchers are creatures of habit and a six-out save can be a daunting task for a closer who is accustomed to only needing to retire three batters. Jansen was fresh prior to his outing in Game 2, but he hung a cutter over the plate that Marwin Gonzalez sent to the stands for the game-tying homerun that sparked the Astros’ comeback.
3. Gorge Springer’s HR in Game 2
Not only was Springer’s dinger the game-winning home run in extra innings of Game 2, but it sparked his MVP performance for the remainder of the series. Springer entered the game in a bit of a slump, going 3 for his last 30, including an 0 for 4 performance with four strikeouts in Game 1. But boy, did he ever turn it around. Springer finished with eight extra-base hits (three doubles and five home runs) and 29 total bases this World Series, both Fall Classic records. The previous total bases record was 25, held by Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson (1977) and Willie Stargell (1979). Springer’s five home runs also tie a World Series record set by Jackson in 1977- the series that earned him the nickname “Mr. October”-and Chase Utley from 2009. Springer slashed .379/.412/1.000 to help him cruise to MVP honors in the seven-game series.
4. Clayton Kershaw failing to hold a lead in Game 5
Kershaw’s postseason struggles are well documented. He’s regarded as one of the best regular season pitchers in baseball history but until he wins a World Series, the questions will follow him. Kershaw had a chance to effectively put an end to those questions about his effectiveness as a postseason pitcher. After he was handed a 4–0 on the road in Game 5 with the series tied 2–2, it appeared Kershaw was primed for his ultimate breakthrough moment. Instead, the 4th inning was his unraveling, as the Astros went on to rally and tie the game on Jose Altuve’s monsterous 3-run home run. Had he held the Astros scoreless or even minimized the damage, the Dodgers may have won the game and ultimately the series. But his inability to shut the door when it mattered most means the doubts about his postseason performance will continue for at least another season.
5. Yu Darvish pitching more than 1 inning in Game 7
In a crucial Game 7, every pitch and every play matters. It was clear from the onset that Yu Darvish was not prepared to start Game 7. The belief was that he would redeem himself after a terrible outing in Game 3. It turned out that this appearance would be equally as bad, if not worse for Darvish. He gave up a line drive double down the left field line to the game’s leadoff hitter — George Springer — and after 1 inning, had given up two runs, although one was because of a throwing error committed by Cody Bellinger. Dave Roberts should have pulled Darvish right then and there, instead of allowing him to pitch the second inning, where he gave up 3 more runs, including a monstrous 438-foot homer to center field by Springer that put the Astros ahead 5–0. Darvish lacked command in both World Series starts. Between his two starts, he lasted just 3⅓ innings, threw 96 pitches, induced only four swings and misses, and gave up nine runs. Was Game 7 his last game as a Dodger?