In a whirlwind series that had Houston and Los Angeles fighting for every pitch, the Houston Astros emerged Wednesday as World Series champions, a first in the club's history.
The win came at the end of a nail-biting seven games between the Astros and the Dodgers, a tit-for-tat fight that from the very start seemed destined to last until the very last pitch, of the very last inning, on the very last game of the stories.
But the Astros, armed with the most effective offense in the MLB, put a decisive end to that fight in the final game of the series. A lead-off double in the first inning, and a shaky start by Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish, gave the Astros the first two runs of the game in the first inning.
In the second inning, Astros center fielder George Springer hit a two-run homer, helping the team build an insurmountable 5-run lead over the Dodgers.
The Dodgers scored their only run in the sixth inning thanks to a single by Andre Ethier, but unlike previous games in the series, they were unable to claw their way back from the deficit. In the end, the most effective bullpen in Major League Baseball was unable to stop the most dangerous offense in the league, giving the Astros the victory with a 5-1 score.
The earlier games in the series were not nearly as decisive. But after six excruciating matchups, two of which ended in extra innings, the Dodgers appeared to have run out of gas by Game 7.
For the Astros, it was a hard-fought victory against Los Angeles, who had earned the best record in the league, that ended with the Houston team taking their first World Series title in the franchise's 56-year-history.
With both teams earning more than 100 wins during the regular season, it seemed all but guaranteed the Dodgers and Astros would be facing off in the World Series this year. The Astros walked into the postseason with 896 runs scored and 1,581 hits batted in the regular season, the most for any baseball team in 2017. But their powerful offense would have to face off against the Dodger bullpen. Dodger pitchers earned the second-lowest ERA in the league at 3.38. Its relievers and closers racked up 51 saves, the third-highest in the league.
It was a matchup baseball fans were looking forward to, and what resulted was a series filled with the improbable late-inning rallies and game-tying homers that kept fans expecting the unexpected.
The Astros offense did not disappointed, especially center fielder George Springer, who would walk away Wednesday with five home runs against the Dodgers, tying the all-time record for home runs in the World Series.
Signs that this series would be filled with surprises came on the very first pitch of the first game, when Dodgers' leadoff hitter Chris Taylor immediately hit it over the fence, bringing the first run of the match up.
Despite the homer, the first game turned into pitching duel between Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw. But it was Kershaw who gave the performance of a career, giving up only three hits and striking out 11 batters, effectively shutting down the Astros in all but a single one-run home run and beating the Astros 3-1.
In Game 2 of the series, all hell seemed to break loose in the eighth inning, when batters for both teams unleashed a series of runs, turning the game into an all-out race that stretched into the 11th inning. Eight home runs were hit that game, five of them late in the ninth inning, and it was the Astros that were left standing with a 7-6 score.
Back in the Astro's turf of Minute Maid Park, Houston took a commanding lead in the beginning of Game 3 and, with it, a lead in the best-of-seven series. But the Dodgers tied the series in Game 4 when Los Angeles unleashed in the ninth inning, with a double by Cody Bellinger bringing in a run, and a three-run homer by Joc Pederson to win the game and tie the series once more.
But it was perhaps the fifth game of the series in Houston, a baseball shootout that after 10 innings, five hours and 17 minutes — the second-longest game in World Series history — left fans dizzy with whiplash. The Astros would take and lose the lead repeatedly in Game 5, pushing the game to the 10th inning until third baseman Alex Bregman scored the winning run with a single, with a final score of an almost unbelievable 13-12 win over the Dodgers.
The Astros had a chance to close it all down in Game 6. Outfielder George Springer hit a solo home run in the third inning, giving the Astros a lead and a glimpse at the title. Yet it would be the only run scored by the team, with the Dodgers shut down their opponents with a 3-1 defeat in Dodgers Stadium.
But the Houston team struck early in the final matchup, hushing the crowd in Chavez Ravine and visibly frustrating the Dodgers.
It wasn't just pitching that seemed to betray the Dodgers in what would be their ultimate defeat. The team at one point filled the bases in the first inning and often had runners in scoring position, yet failed to cash in.
And in the end, the Astros hitters, striking blood early in the game that gave Houston the World Series it has long been waiting for.