On Wednesday, the Houston Astros jumped all over Yu Darvish for the second time in this World Series, and then rode Charlie Morton to the house to take home the franchise’s first world championship. It went exactly as you would draw it up. Clayton Kershaw came on for some masterful relief work to keep his team in the fight, but Morton was just nails, and manager A.J. Hinch saw it and stuck with him. It was great to see a career journeyman whose injury-plagued career seemed at a breaking point come through with an extremely clutch performance on the biggest stage.
The Astros got out to a 5-0 lead by the second inning and held it to take Game 7 by a final score of 5-1. Starter Lance McCullers was about as effectively wild as it gets, hitting four batters but somehow combining with Brad Peacock for four innings of scoreless baseball. Francisco Liriano and Chris Devenski cleaned up the fifth, and Morton took it from there.
For many of us, the real rooting interest was in seeing Justin Verlander finally win the ring that had eluded him for so long. It’s a potent dose of bittersweet appreciation and regret that it didn’t happen in Detroit. But I root for players as well as teams, and it was a beautiful thing to see Verlander and Cameron Maybin win a ring together after all these years. It was also nice to see a very highly regarded person and player in Carlos Beltran get his first ring in what could be his final major league season. The stories were many on Wednesday night, and the feels were powerful.
Here was the moment from the press box.
What the last out looked like from the press box pic.twitter.com/Oz0MDGq6jO— Alyson Footer (@alysonfooter) November 2, 2017
The moment in Houston at Minute Maid Park, which was packed to watch the game on the jumbotron.
The parade in Houston is set for Saturday. Let’s try to catch all you responsible and well rested people up on the highlights.
As Morton continued to stymie the Dodgers with his power sinker/power curve combination, Detroit media and fans kept a sharp eye for the whereabouts of Verlander. Spoiler: he wasn’t in the dugout. Eventually he was placed in the bullpen, and speculation rose as to whether Hinch would turn to him for the ninth inning.
When Morton wrapped up the eighth, Verlander began soft tossing and progressed into his warm-up routine. He was pretty clearly the first man up if there was any trouble in the ninth inning. It would have been cool to see Verlander close it out himself, but Morton had it covered, retiring the Dodgers easily to wrap the game.
Instead, Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and the rest of the bullpen got to pour onto the field and tear it up. The Detroit Free Press has a gallery of photos of the celebration.
He and soon-to-be-wife Kate Upton got some snaps in.
After the award presentations, Verlander sat down with David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez to slather love and respect on each other. It was like a welcoming party to an exclusive baseball club. Verlander had a lot of interesting comments and an undertone of pure joy and emotion in everything he said.
He had some words for Detroit Tigers fans as well.
Justin Verlander said he felt the support of Tigers fans all postseason. His message to Detroit, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) November 2, 2017
I remember Verlander being last to vacate the dugout when #Tigers lost in 2012, 2013. Looked like he was first to sprint out of pen tonight— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) November 2, 2017
Carlos Correa gave out another kind of ring
At the end of his post-game interview with Ken Rosenthal, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa suddenly dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. Correa had already told his teammates before the game that they couldn’t screw this up for him by losing.
This Astros team could be scary for a long time.
George Springer is the 2017 World Series MVP
Men who hit a HR in 4 straight WS games: Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson & George Springer! Did it in the SAME World Series: Just Springer!— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 2, 2017
Springer had a monster World Series after struggling early in the postseason. His two-run shot in the second inning put the Dodgers in a deep, deep hole.
Nike ad using George Springer. pic.twitter.com/CIYysKNtzG— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 2, 2017
Carlos Beltran: 2,725 hits. 435 homers. 1,582 runs. 1,587 RBI. 312 stolen bases. 3 Gold Gloves. 1.021 OPS in postseason. And 1 WS title.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 2, 2017
Catcher Brian McCann echoed the words of most of his teammates in expressing how badly they want to win for the city of Houston. Suddenly, when you least expect it, there is also Nick Swisher, bruh!
A jinx was broken
Charlie Morton shines
With a bullpen full of landmines, the Astros had starters Morton, Verlander and Keuchel all potentially ready for Game 7. Morton made it a moot point, but with all the talk of “bullpenning” going on, it would have been ironic to see a team use four starting pitchers to wrap up the biggest of games.
Charlie Morton, Disgusting 81mph Curveball movement. pic.twitter.com/W0y9El1jdc— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 2, 2017
Coverage and Analysis
Marc Normandin has the World Series highlights. Ryan Dunsmore at Crawfish Boxes has the story of Verlander and Beltran’s long wait for a title. Clayton Kershaw hasn’t waited that long yet, but it’s on his mind, guaranteed.
The agony of defeat: Two hours later, Clayton Kershaw standing in the Dodgers dugout, surveying the aftermath of the Astros celebration.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) November 2, 2017
FanGraphs investigated Justin Verlander’s Hall of Fame case, and found it fairly strong. A World Series ring at the end of another monster postseason may be the finishing touch. Eno Sarris looked at what happened to Verlander’s slider late in his Game 6 start. Craig Edwards looked at the historical implications of this clash of titans between the Astros and Dodgers.
The controversy over how the league handled Yuri Gurriel’s suspension will continue all offseason. For his part, Gurriel didn’t avoid the issue.
Yuli Gurriel tips his helmet towards Yu Darvish before his at-bat. pic.twitter.com/IotpfddcrY— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) November 2, 2017
Two consecutively thrilling World Series matchups has CNN writing that the Super Bowl pales in comparison. The Houston Chronicle has the story of Correa’s proposal and engagement. Finally David Kagan at the Hardball Times investigated the physics and purpose of batting practice.