The Houston Astros won their first World Series in franchise history Wednesday, beating the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 7 in Los Angeles. The Astros jumped on Yu Darvish early – just as they did in Game 3 – scoring five runs in the first two innings. The Astros arms took it from there, scattering six hits and allowing just one run.
For this, the Astros – who beat both the Yankees and Dodgers in seven-game thrillers – deserve credit.
“I just love all the young energy,” MLB Network Radio and MLB on TBS analyst Casey Stern said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It was a lot of fun and the cool part of this team is that we always have that question about chemistry and is it important. Clearly you have to have players that are good, but there’s absolutely no doubt that the chemistry this club has, the way they believe in each other, the tight-knit group, the energy that you could see through the TV when you’re watching on the field or at home, I think that was a big part of why they won. I think it’s a special group, and they’re not going anywhere for a while. They’re going to be around now.”
The Dodgers, meanwhile, deserve some criticism – Dave Roberts, specifically. Was winning 104 games – the most since 1953, when the franchise played in Brooklyn – a success? Yes. Was advancing to the World Series – for the first time since 1988 – a success? Yes.
But Roberts will likely be kicking himself for sticking with Darvish, who was chased in the second inning for the second time in this series.
“Look, I think Dave is fantastic. I know him well, I love him, I covered him in ’04 when I was covering the Red Sox. He is a good person, and he will learn from this,” Stern said. “But he had a very bad series. I don’t think he necessarily got out-managed because I don’t think it was necessarily toe-to-toe in that way, but I think he had some bad moments. . . . I think pulling Rich Hill in Game 2 early put him in a bad spot. (Kenta) Maeda got tired, (Brandon) Morrow got tired, and they were kind of chasing themselves in that bullpen ever since then.”
For the series, Darvish allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3 and 1/3 innings – good enough for a 21.60 ERA and a 3.30 WHIP.
“The first game you could tell he didn’t have his stuff,” Stern said. “Sometimes with pitchers, they just don’t have it. He had no feel of the fast ball, he couldn’t spot any of the curveballs, his slider, and he just left him in there to give up runs. Tonight was the worst move of them all. I was literally losing my mind because I’m rooting for a good game and I’m screaming. You cannot sit there after Darvish looked bad in the first inning. If you’ve got Clayton Kershaw available – who should have started this game anyway when you saw how good he was – you got to put him in there. You got the best pitcher on the planet. You got Alex Wood behind him. You don’t sit there and watch Darvish. This is Game 7. This isn’t May 9.”
After allowing two runs in the first inning, Darvish walked Brian McCann and gave up a double to Marwin Gonzalez to begin the second. At that point, Roberts, one would think, would go to his bullpen.
Nope. He left Darvish in the game. Three batters later, it was 5-0, with George Springer going yard for the fifth time this series.
“You allow yourself to get in a position where Darvish gives up a two-run home run,” Stern said. “That should have been a 2-0 game. That was on Dave Roberts, and I think it was the worst decision we probably saw honestly from a manager in the postseason. Everybody talks about Dusty (Baker) with (Stephen) Strasburg and Joe Maddon had a few blunders. When you get in a spot like this, (you have to have) urgency. You cannot get in a position where you’re watching Darvish give up five runs – and that was the difference in the game because guess what? The amount of runs allowed after Darvish left? Zero.”