There you have it. The Houston Astros are your 2017 World Series Champions. This is the first World Series title for the ballclub. After falling short in a four-game sweep to the Chicago White Sox in 2005, this was only their second appearance in a World Series. The series came to a dramatic Game 7 finish. This is the third series in four years to come down a Game 7 finale.
What makes the World Series win for the Astros a bit sweeter is that this exact accomplishment was predicted in a 2014 article by Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter. The Sports Illustrated cover featured a 2014 George Springer on the cover with the title “Your 2017 World Series Champs.” Springer would live up to the cover prediction as he took home the World Series MVP this season. The Connecticut native was 3 for 30 in the American League Divisional Series and American League Championship Series, then began the World Series with a four-strikeout 0-for-4 performance in Game 1. The Houston center fielder would go on to hit home runs in Games 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Springer hit 34 home runs for the Astros in the regular season.
The Series was suspenseful and thrilling for its entirety. Games 2 and 5 each went into extra innings before seeing the Astros pull off clutch victories. Game 5 was the most exciting game in the series. The five hour and 17 minute contest was a grueling game of one-upmanship between the clubs. The duration of the game was titanic compared to the breezing pace of Game 1, which lasted two hours and 28 minutes. The lengthy Game 5 saw five homers from the Astros (Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Springer, Carlos Correa and Brian McCann), and two from the Dodgers (Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig). Dodgers utility player Chris Taylor singled in the ninth inning; tying it 12-12 and forcing the game into extra frames. Astro third baseman Alex Bregman singled on a liner for a 13-12 walk-off win.
Pitching was spotty in the series. Dodger veteran and three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw pitched a stunning Game 1 gem against 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. The Dodger Ace threw seven innings and collected 11 strikeouts in the contest. Kershaw and Keuchel would both go on to blow up in the Game 5 slugfest and each be removed before the fifth inning of play. Astros starting pitcher and 2011 Cy Young Winner Justin Verlander faced off against Dodger lefty Rich Hill in two starts. Verlander’s six-inning performance in Game 2 would be overshadowed by late inning heroics by his teammates. He would also be outdueled by a lights-out Dodger bullpen in Game 6. After pulling Rich Hill in the fourth inning, the Dodgers’ pen would go on to pitch four and one-third innings of shutout baseball.
One of the unsung heroes of the World Series was Hill. Since 2005, he has been plagued by injury. With just one complete season as a starting pitcher in 2007 with the Chicago Cubs, Hill has been sidelined or left to only relief pitching. After a resurgence as a starter in 2015 for the Boston Red Sox, Hill has been lights out. The 37-year-old lefty is a true exhibition of effort and perseverance. With that, Hill started Game 2 for the Dodgers and threw four innings of three hit baseball with one run allowed. In the 12 outs he collected for the Dodgers, seven of them were strikeouts. Hill would be taken out early after walking a batter and the Dodgers would go on to lose Game 2 in extra innings. Hill would then pitch Game 6, throwing four and two-thirds innings and collect five strikeouts. With just one run earned in Game 6, Hill would be second on the team with a World Series E.R.A. of 2.08.