One of the most dramatic thrillers in World Series history ended early yesterday with Alex Bregman driving in the winning run to put the Houston Astros on the brink of their first Major League Baseball championship.
Bregman’s 10th-inning single scored Derek Fisher to give the Astros a 13-12 triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven showdown. Houston can claim the crown by winning game six today in Los Angeles.
“It was an unbelievable moment,” Bregman said. “You dream about it as a little kid. To be living a dream, one win away from the World Series, is really special.”
An epic game that mirrored the momentum swings of a tension-filled series saw the Astros twice fight back to level the score and the Dodgers score three runs in the ninth inning to equalize, the last after being down to their final strike.
“It’s hard to put into words all the twists and turns in that game, the emotion, doing it at home, in front of our home crowd,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
“Had some moments where you can be in awe. You never stop thinking. You never stop planning. But there’s an appreciation with the emotion.”
The second-longest game in World Series history was decided after five hours and 17 minutes on a single by a 23-year-old third baseman who made his major league debut just 15 months ago.
“He’s cool and calm and completely in control of himself in these moments,” Hinch said of Bregman. “I don’t care if he’s been in the league one year or 10, he’s demonstrating some very unique traits in the biggest moments.”
Yuli Gurriel and Jose Altuve each smacked three-run homers for the Astros, Carlos Correa blasted a two-run homer while Brian McCann and George Springer had solo homers.
“We’re hard to beat when we swing the bats like this,” Hinch said. “We’re relentless when we’re good.”
The Astros’ five homers in one game matched a World Series record set by the 1928 New York Yankees and matched by the 1989 Oakland A’s.
“It was unbelievable, the best game ever for sure,” Correa said. “Emotions are running high right now. We have the lead in the series. We’re going to go out there and take it in LA.”
The Dodgers, seeking a seventh championship and their first since 1988, must win to force a winner-take-all seventh game tomorrow.
“This whole series has been an emotional roller coaster,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s going to be boisterous and energetic at Dodger Stadium. We’re at an elimination stage right now and we’ll do everything we can to win one game.”
In the 10th, Astros catcher Brian McCann reached base when struck in the right arm by a pitch from Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen, who walked George Springer to put the winning run on second base.
The Astros inserted speedy pinch-runner Fisher and Bregman followed with a single to left field that sent Fisher racing across the plate ahead of a desperate throw that was too late to prevent the deciding run and an emotional celebration by the Astros and their fans.
“I was so happy just to help this team win,” Bregman said. “I got (Jansen) on a slider last night so I knew he wouldn’t throw that. I was looking for a cutter, tried to stay on top and we’re up 3-2, baby!”
It was the second-highest score for a losing team in World Series history, the only similar slugfest in the event’s 113 editions being Toronto’s 15-14 game four win at Philadelphia in 1993.
“They kept grinding and got the big hit when they needed,” Roberts said. “We knew this is the best offensive ballclub we were going to see all year. And they can slug you.”
The Astros led by three runs entering the ninth inning but Yasiel Puig smashed a two-run homer to pull the Dodgers within 12-11.
It was the 22nd homer of this World Series, breaking the total homers mark of 21 set in 2002, and the game’s seventh combined homer for both teams, matching a Series record from 1989.
Austin Barnes doubled, took third on Joc Pederson’s ground out and scored on Chris Taylor’s single up the middle after going down to his last strike.
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman celebrates with teammates after hitting the game-winning RBI single against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 10th inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports