LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — So close, and yet so far.
The Houston Astros won deciding game 7 of the 2017 World Series Wednesday night beating the Dodgers 5-1. It was the first World Series win in that team’s 55-year history.
The Dodgers were hoping to make a little history of their own. The last time the team made the World Series and won was 1988.
Dodger fans had to be disappointed but at least come away with the knowledge this year’s team had the best record in all of baseball. The roster will barely change in the off-season so a repeat as division champs is a given. A trip to the World Series can’t be ruled out either. (Although Cubs fans might want to argue about how easy it is to return to the Fall Classic.)
The Dodgers fell behind early. Yu Darvish who had trouble getting outs in his first start barely got out of the first inning also behind 2-0. The second inning was not better.
Darvish pitched 1 and 2/3rd innings and was charged with all five runs. Darvish is a free agent this off-season.
The Dodgers got their run on an Andre Ethier single in the 6th.
Playing for a city still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and wearing an H Strong logo on their jerseys, the Astros brought home the prize that had eluded them since they started out in 1962 as the National League Colt .45s.
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For a Series that was shaping up as an October classic, Game 7 quickly became a November clunker as Houston scored five runs in the first two innings and literally took Dodger fans out of the game.. Last year’s game 7 between the Cubs and Indians was a nail biter. This one? Just a biter.
Well, except for everyone wearing bright orange.
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Jose Altuve, one of four carry-overs from a club that lost an embarrassing 111 times in 2013 after switching from the NL to the AL, and this collection of young stars silenced Dodger Stadium from the get-go. Charlie Morton finished up with four stellar innings of relief for the win.
George Springer led off the evening with a double against Darvish, and soon it was 2-0.
Springer hit his fifth homer — tying the Series mark set by Reggie Jackson and matched by Chase Utley — when he connected for a record fourth game in a row, making it 5-0 in the second.
Springer barely hit .150 in the ALCS causing fans to scream that he be benched. That was dumb Astros’ fans. Springer absolutely killed the Dodgers. He was named World Series MVP. Springer won a Chevy Silverado Centennial Edition for his efforts.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch pulled starter Lance McCullers Jr. soon after the curveballer crazily plunked his fourth batter of the game, and began a bullpen parade of four relievers that kept the lead.
Forever known for their space-age Astrodome, outlandish rainbow jerseys and a handful of heartbreaking playoff losses, these Astros will be remembered as champions, finally, in their 56th season.
The club that wears a star on its hat also filled out the Texas trophy case. Teams from the Lone Star State had won most every major crown — Super Bowl, NBA and NHL titles, championships in college football, and men’s and women’s hoops — except the World Series.
Built on the skills of homegrown All-Stars Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel and more, and boosted by the slick trade for Justin Verlander, general manager Jeff Luhnow completed the ascent that some predicted.
Famously, now, there was the Sports Illustrated cover in 2014 — after Houston had lost more than 100 games for three straight years — that proclaimed: “Your 2017 World Series Champs” and featured a picture of Springer in a bright Astros jersey.
Houston won 101 times this year to take the AL West, then won Games 6 and 7 at home in the AL Championship Series. The Astros joined the 1985 Royals as the only clubs to win a pair of Game 7s in the same year.
For the Dodgers, the quest to win a Series for the first time since 1988 fell short. They led the majors with 104 wins and a $240 million payroll, yet it didn’t pay off for part-owner Magic Johnson or manager Dave Roberts. Prediction: Roberts will be second-guessed for much of the off-season for starting Darvish. Moreover, he will be second-guessed for leaving him in the game long enough for the Dodgers to fall five runs behind.
Longtime ace Clayton Kershaw provided four shutout innings of relief for Los Angeles, but it was too late. What the Dodgers really needed was a better starter than Darvish, someone more like the lefty who tossed out a ceremonial first ball: the great Sandy Koufax.
After Springer lined a leadoff double, Alex Bregman hit a bouncer that first baseman Cody Bellinger threw past Darvish for an error, allowing a run to score. Bregman aggressively stole third and scored on Altuve’s grounder, and it was 2-0 after eight pitches.
A double by Marwin Gonzalez helped set up perhaps McCullers’ biggest contribution, a slow grounder for his first pro RBI. Springer followed with a no-doubt, two-run drive into the left-center field bleachers.
That was the Series-most 25th homer in a Major League Baseball season that set a record for home runs. It was easily enough for the Astros to offset pinch-hitter Ethier’s RBI.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke for the entire city when he described the loss as hard.
Garcetti sounded a little less upbeat about paying off a bet to Houston’s mayor.
Only once have the Dodgers clinched a crown at home, that coming in 1963 when Koufax outpitched Yankees star Whitey Ford to finish a sweep. They’ve never won Game 7 of the Fall Classic at their own park, dating more than a century ago to their days on the streets of Brooklyn as the Trolley Dodgers.
As pockets of Houston fans got louder and louder in the later innings, the crowd at Dodger Stadium was left to repeat the sad, but hopeful cry that used to echo in Brooklyn: Wait till next year.
Just 106 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)