This article was written by Jose Rivera
On October 29, 2017, the World Series was tied at two games apiece. After dropping Game Four, a young Astros team needed a win in its last home game of the year to take control of the series.
The city would have been devastated to see the Astros fall after enduring Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas on August 17. Instead of hitting the San Antonio and Corpus Christi areas as meteorologists had predicted, it slammed into the center of an unprepared Houston. The streaking Astros had given Houston residents a World Series title chase to distract themselves from what had happened to the place they called home.
USA Today’s article about the game joked, “Before the game, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush were on the field for the first-pitch ceremony. By the end of the night, most everyone was bushed.”1 The excitement fans felt about having two former presidents in attendance was nothing compared to what the upcoming game had in store.
Dallas Keuchel was ready to go. In the top of the first, Keuchel worked Chris Taylor to a 2-and-1 count when Taylor grounded up the middle for a single. Shortstop Corey Seager struck out, but after that, the problems began. Keuchel walked Justin Turner and Enrique “Kike” Hernandez, loading the bases. Cody Bellinger struck out, but Logan Forsythe lined a single into left field, bringing in two runs. The Dodgers weren’t done. With Yasiel Puig at bat with two outs, Forsythe attempted to steal second. Keuchel zipped a throw to first and caught him in a rundown. It looked as though the Astros were going to make the play at second, but a wide throw from first baseman Yuli Gurriel allowed Forsythe to make it to second and Hernandez to score the third run of the inning for the Dodgers. Keuchel finally ended the top of the first with a groundball from Puig.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who dominated the Astros in Game One, picked up where he had ended that game by silencing the Astro bats until the fourth inning. All went quiet for the Dodgers as well.
In the fourth inning, Keuchel struck out Bellinger, but Forsythe doubled to center, putting another man in scoring position for the Dodgers. Keuchel struck out Puig before Austin Barnes lined one into left field, and the Dodgers tacked another run onto their lead. Then Charlie Culberson’s single ended Keuchel’s day. Reliever Luke Gregerson recorded the third out, striking out Taylor.
When Kershaw returned to the mound, he had a 4-0 lead and was shutting down the Astros’ bats until George Springer walked. After Alex Bregman flied out to left field, Jose Altuve singled to left, advancing Springer to second base. On the third pitch, Carlos Correa lined a double past third baseman Turner, scoring Altuve and sending Springer to third. Gurriel, with one out and both runners in scoring position, hammered the first pitch he saw to the left-field Crawford Boxes, and in the words of TV announcer Joe Buck, “Gurriel … has tied it, WOW! 4-4.”2 Kershaw retired the next two batters to end the inning, but what was more important was that the Astros were level with the Dodgers.
The home run left the Dodgers stunned, but they were prepared to strike back in the top of the fifth. With Turner and Hernandez both on base as a result of walks and Collin McHugh on the mound for the Astros, Bellinger drove one of McHugh’s pitches into the Astros bullpen, giving the Dodgers a 7-4 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, the Dodgers still had Kershaw on the mound. He retired two before walking two, putting Altuve at the plate. Kenta Maeda replaced Kershaw, but Altuve still hammered a three-run homer to deep left-center, tying the game, 7-7.
With the game still tied in the seventh, Brad Peacock took the mound for the Astros to face Turner. Turner battled Peacock for nine pitches, lining a double to center. After a fielder’s choice from Hernandez erased Turner at third base, Bellinger, who had homered in his last at-bat, tripled to the opposite field, giving the Dodgers a one-run lead, 8-7.
The Dodgers were nine outs away from a 3-games-to-2 lead in the series. Reliever Brandon Morrow entered for the Dodgers to face the top of the order. On the first pitch, George Springer went yard, tying the game with a bomb to left-center, and the Astros weren’t done. Bregman singled into center field on the first pitch, which put Jose Altuve at the plate with no outs and a man on first. He doubled into left, scoring Bregman to give the Astros the lead, 9-8, and bringing Correa to the plate. A wild pitch let Altuve go to third, and on the second pitch, Correa sent a deep fly ball to left that fell into the Crawford Boxes for a home run, making it 11-8. Tony Cingrani relieved Morrow and recorded three outs to end the inning.
Peacock remained in the game for the eighth and with one out gave up a long double to pinch-hitter Joc Pederson. After hitting Taylor, Peacock was replaced by Will Harris, but nothing changed. Seager doubled into left field, scoring Pederson, to make it 11-9. Chris Devenski relieved Harris and stopped the bleeding by getting Andre Ethier to ground out to first base. Dodgers pitcher Cingrani went out for his second inning of work in the bottom of the eighth and started well, but Astros catcher Brian McCann hit a monster home run to right field to make it 12-9.
In the top of the ninth, Devenski returned to close out the game and put the Astros one win away from a World Series title. He started by walking Cody Bellinger before retiring Forsythe. What happened next was the Astros’ worst nightmare: Puig lined one into the Crawford Boxes for a home run, reducing the lead to one. The Dodgers had something brewing. Catcher Barnes doubled to center. The Astros, holding on by a string, recorded the second out; however, Taylor, the last hope for the Dodgers, hit a comebacker up the middle with a 2-and-2 count for a huge base hit to tie the game.
With the momentum, the Dodgers called on closer Kenley Jansen to work the ninth. He secured the first two outs but gave up a two-out double to Gurriel. Facing another high-intensity situation, the Astros’ bats fell silent to finish the ninth.
If there was anything else this game needed, it was extra innings. The Astros went to the bullpen and pulled out Joe Musgrove, who worked a scoreless inning. Jansen was out to work the bottom of the 10th. The Astros were determined to change what had happened in the ninth. It did not start well for them as Jansen retired the first two batters, bringing the number-nine hitter, McCann, to the plate. He battled, and on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, he hit one into the right-field corner that would have ended the game, but it fell just foul. That pitch seemed to take Jansen off his game as he hit McCann on the next pitch. Since the Astros were playing for the win, after Springer walked, putting McCann in scoring position, Derek Fischer ran for McCann.
To the plate came Alex Bregman, the young phenom at third base. On the first pitch, he lined one into left field. Fischer instantly took off from second as left fielder Ethier scooped up the ball. Fischer was waved around third, and Ethier’s throw was late. Fischer scored, and “more than five unforgettable hours after the first pitch, a frantic Carlos Correa sprinted toward his Houston Astros teammates in the middle of the diamond.”3 After the game, Bregman said, “It’s an unbelievable moment. … You dream about it as a little kid. To be living a dream, one win away from the World Series, is really special.”4
The Astros now led the World Series 3 games to 2 and would go on to win their first World Series championship in Game Seven in Los Angeles. It was a historic day for the city of Houston, and was also only the second time the Dodgers lost a game when giving Kershaw at least four runs of support.5 Game Five will go down as one of the craziest games in World Series history.
1 “Astros Blast by Dodgers 13-12 in 10th, Lead World Series 3-2,” USA Today, October 30, 2017.
2 “WS2017 Gm5: Yuli Gurriel Ties Game 5 with a Three-Run Homer in the 2017 World Series,” Major League Baseball YouTube video, October 30, 2017, https://youtube.com/watch?v=JXXXKroiqh4.
3 “Astros Blast by Dodgers.”
4 Brian McTaggart and Ken Gurnick, “Astros Beat Dodgers in a Game 5 for the Ages,” MLB News, October 29, 2017. mlb.com/news/astros-beat-dodgers-in-a-game-5-for-the-ages-c260033600.
5 Mike Axisa, “Dodgers-Astros Game 5: What to Know About Maybe the Best World Series Game Ever,” CBS Sports.com, October 30, 2017. cbssports.com/mlb/news/dodgers-astros-game-5-what-to-know-about-maybe-the-best-world-series-game-ever/.