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Nightengale: World Series this Epic Deserves a Game 7

Nightengale: World Series this Epic Deserves a Game 7
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa greets teammate Marwin Gonzalez after he hit a solo home run off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning to tie the score, 3-3, and force extra innings. Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Third baseman Justin Turner looked up at the TVs in the boisterous Los Angeles Dodgers clubhouse Tuesday night, stared at the news station, and interrupted his own impromptu press conference.

“Look at that, there’s still a bunch of them out there,” Turner said incredulously, gesturing toward the thousands of fans who were in the stands long after the 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros. “They’re still here. They don’t want to go home.

“Which is confusing, you’d think they’d want to get some candy.”

On the night of Halloween, the Dodgers forced a World Series Game 7 on Wednesday, the first ever played in the 55-year history of Dodger Stadium, giving it the Hollywood ending this breathtaking World Series deserves.

It’ll be the first time since 1931 that two 100-game winners in the regular season will play the final game of the World Series.

 “It’s only fitting for this series,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You’ve got the two best teams in baseball going head to head. These two teams mirror one another. The compete and fight in both teams is the most important thing I see as similarities.”

It’s a shame it has to end Wednesday night, or perhaps even Thursday morning, with this wondrous 10-day adventure providing enough thrills, turns and queasy stomachs to make Disneyland look lame.

“Whoever didn’t die today will die tomorrow of a heart attack,” Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig said.

The Dodgers made sure this World Series would have a dramatic conclusion by stunning ace Justin Verlander in the sixth inning, ending his domination with a run-scoring double by Chris Taylor and a sacrifice fly by Corey Seager. Joc Pederson’s seventh-inning homer sent the sellout crowd of 54,128 into hysteria.

“I could hear the stadium rumbling,” Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson said. “I almost lost my voice yelling and screaming so much. When I can’t hear myself talk, that’s a good thing. And I don’t want to hear myself talk or think tomorrow.

“This World Series has been pretty epic.”

This series has had absolutely everything imaginable, from home run derby, to bullpen meltdowns, to the shortest game in 25 years, to the second-longest game in history, to crazy comebacks and dramatic blown leads.

“I don’t think anyone is shocked that this is going to Game 7,” Verlander said.

So just imagine what could be in store Wednesday night?

It will feature a rematch of Game 3 starters with brash Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and Dodgers veteran Yu Darvish, the latter recording just five outs.

We will see Darvish and Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel face one another since Gurriel’s racist gesture toward him that led to a five-game suspension at the start of next season.

We will see Pederson, who until a week ago had not homered since July 26. Now, he has three homers in the World Series, including the solo shot Tuesday that had him running around the bases and flashing the money sign to teammates, yelling “pay me.”

“Emotions run high,” Pederson said. “You kind of black out in a situation like that. So I’m going to have to re-watch it to see what I did.”

We may see Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran suit up for the final time in an illustrious career that could be Cooperstown-bound.

We’ll see whether Astros center fielder George Springer, who already has hit four homers this series, can break the record for the most by a leadoff hitter in World Series history.

We’ll probably see reliever Brandon Morrow, who has appeared in 13 of the Dodgers’ 14 postseason games, and closer Kenley Jansen, who pitched two innings again Tuesday.

We may even see Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez show up again in a Chewbacca outfit, even though Halloween will be over.

“This is what everybody in this room has dreamed of throughout their lives and it’s finally here” Hernandez said. “Half of the dream is just showing up here for a Game 7, and hopefully the second part of the dream will become a reality as well, to become a World Series champion.

“This has been two great heavyweights going at it, giving fans what they want, so it needed a Game 7.”

Considering what we’ve already witnessed, we may see things in Game 7 we can’t even imagine.

 “I’m ready to go 27 innings,” Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said. “Whatever they need, it’s the last game of the season. I’m excited for this game. How often do you get to play Game 7 of a World Series?

“I can’t even fathom it. It’s going to be a fun night.”

It could be a game where we could see three Cy Young award-winning starters pitch in relief – Kershaw for the Dodgers and Dallas Keuchel and even Verlander for the Astros.

It wouldn’t surprise a soul if the night’s first pitch was thrown by Kirk Gibson, hero of the Dodgers’ last championship in 1988.

When asked if he can possibly imagine the atmosphere Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, Turner thought for a moment, and said, “No, I can’t. I mean, tonight was crazy. It’s going to be wild “

Perhaps McCullers epitomized the anticipation of Game 7 when he walked back onto the field after the game, and actually started throwing, just to loosen his arm.

“We’re the two best teams in baseball,” said McCullers, “and I think that has been solidified by how amazing this series has been. What makes this series so great, is you’ve got two teams with a bunch of dogs in the clubhouse. No one is afraid to back down.

“I expect a great Game 7.”

The Astros, with a fresh bullpen, envision nothing less in their bid for their first World Series championship in their 55-year history, and the first in the state of Texas.

“This series has been back and forth,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Two incredible teams trying to get to the finish line. This is the biggest stage, the best stage, an opportunity to win the World Series in Game 7.”

It was absolutely meant to be, on Halloween night, and in the shadows of Hollywood.

By Bob Nightengale

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, USA Today. Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter and Facebook


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