Astros persevere, win wild one in 11th inning to stun Dodgers and even World Series

Breaking down Game 2 of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

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The World Series heads to Houston tied 1-1 after the Astros’ Game 2 victory.
USA TODAY Sports

Astros’ George Springer celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the 11th inning.(Photo: Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports)

LOS ANGELES — Breaking down Game 2 of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium:

Astros 7, Dodgers 6 (11 inn.): Series tied, 1-1.

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The game: Now, this World Series has some drama.

What looked like a sure-fire two games-to-none lead for the Dodgers is all even thanks to some late-inning heroics from the top of the Astros order. 

In one of the craziest games in World Series history, George Springer’s two-run blast in the top of the 11th was the final blow in a slugfest that included eight home runs and blown saves by both teams’ closers.

“I’ve been part of some pretty exciting games, but with all that this one entailed to be in the World Series and to be down a game, the roller coaster of emotion …”  marveled Astros starter Justin Verlander, who allowed three runs in six innings, but was long gone by the time the game was decided, “This is an instant classic, and to be able to be part of it is pretty special.”

Houston trailed 3-1 entering the eighth inning with a dominant Dodger bullpen that had pitched 28 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason poised to close things out. However, Carlos Correa’s RBI single and Marwin Gonzalez’s solo homer off Kenley Jansen pulled Houston even and forced extra innings.

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With Josh Fields taking over for Jansen in the 10th, Jose Altuve and Correa hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the 10th inning to put the Astros in front. Correa even punctuated his blast with an elite-level bat flip.

“The tension of the game made him do that,” Gonzalez said. “If they had hit two homers they would have done the same thing. It’s nothing personal. Everybody’s enjoying the moment.” 

However, the Dodgers wouldn’t go quietly.

Yasiel Puig hit a leadoff homer of his own in the bottom of the 10th and the Dodgers tied the game on a two-out RBI single by Kike’ Hernandez off closer Ken Giles. 

Hernandez hit just .159 against right-handed pitchers during the regular season.

But then in the 11th — with veteran Brandon McCarthy pitching for the first time since Oct. 1 and making his first career appearance in the postseason — Springer connected on an 89 mph slider that just kept carrying and carrying until it disappeared over the right field wall. 

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Man of the moment: Springer rebounded from a horrendous World Series opener to play the role of the hero.

Hitting just .213 in the playoffs and coming off an 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 in which he struck out in all four of his at-bats, Springer collected three hits and a walk in Game 2.

Afterward he credited manager A.J. Hinch for sticking with him despite his struggles. 

“Obviously didn’t have the best game last night. And as a player you tend to know it. And you press. And you want to do things that you can’t do,” Springer said. “For him to have my back and to say that, hey, you’re still going to hit first, and you’re still going to set the tone for us, it slowed me down … And for him to have my back, it means the world to me.”

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Game 2 pivot point: When runs are at a premium, there’s little room for error. That’s what has made Jansen such a valuable weapon.

After Brandon Morrow gave up a leadoff double in the eighth to Alex Bregman, the strains of “California Love” began echoing throughout Dodger Stadium as manager Dave Roberts turned to his closer for a six-out save.

Jansen, who tossed a scoreless inning to save Game 1, gave up Correa’s single to center, but he shut the door to protect the one-run lead.

But Gonzalez silenced the 54,293 in attendance with one swing, a 394-foot fly that just barely cleared the wall in left center to tie the game.

In his postseason career, Jansen has allowed seven earned runs 31 1/3 innings (2.10 ERA). The blown save was his first in the playoffs in 13 chances. He blew only one save in 42 opportunities in the regular season.

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Manager’s special: By pinch-hitting for Verlander after only six innings, Hinch had to piece together five innings from a bullpen that had previously pitched to an ERA of 4.84 in the postseason.

Will Harris and Joe Musgrove came through with scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth.

Giles pitched a perfect ninth, but ran into trouble in the 10th, giving way to Chris Devenski after Hernandez’s game-tying single.

Devenski got the final out and came back to close things out in the 11th, but not before yielding a solo home run to Charlie Culberson to cut the lead to 7-6.

The game ended when Devenski struck out Yasiel Puig after 4 hours and 19 minutes of tense action.

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Needing a mulligan: As he’s done every time he’s taken the mound as a member of the Astros, Verlander was outstanding. However in the warm Chavez Ravine air, the Dodgers made him pay for the only two mistakes he made all night – both of which resulted in home runs.

Verlander had won all five of his starts after being acquired Aug. 31 from the Detroit Tigers – and all four of his appearances in the postseason.

Entering the game, Verlander had a 1.23 ERA in 58 2/3 innings in an Astros uniform. He retired the first nine Dodgers in order before allowing a leadoff walk that was quickly erased by a double play.

The only hits he allowed in six innings before being taken out for a pinch-hitter were the two home runs.

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State of the Series: The Astros have to feel confident as the series as it shifts to Houston, where they are a perfect 6-0 in the postseason.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced Wednesday he’ll go with Lance McCullers over Charlie Morton on the mound in Game 3. McCullers, a 2017 American League All-Star before injuries limited him to six starts in the second half.

“The home start, coming home, and having Lance McCullers go, there is going to be a ton of energy in the building,” Hinch said. “And we had to pick one.”

When we last saw McCullers in the playoffs, he was tossing four shutout innings in relief to save Game 7 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees.

If the World Series goes to a Game 7, McCullers would be in line to start.

The Dodgers counter with trade deadline acquisition Yu Darvish, who’s won both of his starts this postseason, but who is someone the Astros have seen often as a member of the Texas Rangers.

In two starts against Houston this season, Darvish posted a 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. Over his career, he’s 5-5 with a 3.44 ERA in 14 starts. However, he has held the Astros to a .199 batting average over 89 innings.

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