HOUSTON -- So this was how they said goodbye to their baseball season at Minute Maid Park, said goodbye to Houston's share of this World Series, said goodbye to the greatest night of baseball Houston has ever had, and the loudest any Series has ever known. Once, a long time ago, it seemed the Fall Classic was as loud as it could be when the Twins were winning World Series games and doing that indoors at the Metrodome, in 1987 and 1991. Minute Maid was louder on Sunday night and into Monday morning, when the Astros finally finished off the craziest and most wonderful game, Game 5, Astros 13 and Dodgers 12, that any World Series has ever seen and might ever see. And hear. If they had opened the roof at Minute Maid in the late innings, you would have been able to hear this game in Austin.
It ended after five hours and 17 minutes in the bottom of the 10th, ended after 417 pitches, ended after the Astros had erased one four-run deficit and one three-run deficit, and then somehow blown a three-run lead of their own later. In the same World Series game. It ended when Alex Bregman singled and pinch-runner Derek Fisher, in there for Brian McCann, came flying around third base and then went sliding across home plate and into Series history himself.
They asked Bregman's manager, A.J. Hinch, about Bregman's game-winner a few minutes later and he said, "I trust them all in big moments."
Astros 13, Dodgers 12.
The Dodgers had scored three in the first and then three in the top of the ninth to make it 12-12, Chris Taylor knocking in that tying run when it was midnight, straight up, in Houston. In between, it seemed as if just about everything happened. By the ninth there had been seven home runs in this game and so many relief pitchers you were waiting for George W. Bush, who once again looked pretty sharp throwing out a first pitch in the World Series, to offer to give Hinch an inning. Or two.
It was 3-0 for the Dodgers and 4-0 for the Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw was on the mound, and Kershaw's lifetime record in games where the Dodgers gave him a lead of four runs or more was a cool 100-1. Or maybe a thousand and one. The Astros came back and tied it in the bottom of the fourth, the last three of the runs coming on a three-run shot from Yuli Gurriel. But then it was 7-4 for the Dodgers because Cody Bellinger hit a three-run homer of his own.
The Astros came back again, on this night of coming back, from both teams, in a game of World Series baseball that the country will be talking about on Monday and all the way to Game 6, and maybe Game 7; talking about and remembering as long as the World Series is played.
Jose Altuve, the best baseball player in this world, the Astros' little big man, hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth in Game 5. It was 7-all. George Springer dove for a ball in short center and missed it, in this October where Springer has caught just about everything, in Houston and Boston and Yankee Stadium and in LA. Bellinger hit that ball. A single became a triple. Top of the seventh by then. 8-7, Dodgers. We didn't know at the time that Minute Maid and these two teams and Game 5, were all just clearing their throats.
Then came the bottom of the seventh, and maybe the worst pitching performance any Series game has ever seen. Brandon Morrow, who has been such a star out of the bullpen for the Dodgers this season, but who had never pitched three days in a row in the big leagues, is the one who threw those six pitches, to four Astros batters, top of the order.
Here is what happened:
Springer led off, and in that moment reminded all of us who love baseball, as if we needed reminding, what a redemptive sport baseball is and has always been. He hit a no-doubter out to left. The game was tied again, 8-all.
Bregman singled to center.
Altuve doubled, big shot up the gap for the little big man. Bregman scored. Now it was 9-8, Houston. Minute Maid sounded like the inside of a jet engine. Or maybe it is better to just describe it this way: The place just sounded like the inside of Game 5 of the 2017 World Series.
Now it was Carlos Correa's turn, on this night when he and Altuve would produce six hits between them and score five runs and knock in seven; would produce a couple of doubles and a couple of home runs. Correa hit a ball that nearly touched the ceiling at Minute Maid, that had the highest launch angle -- 48 degrees -- of any home run this season. It came down eventually. In the left-field seats. Came down out of the roof and officially blew the doors and the roof off Minute Maid Park. It was 11-8 Astros in Game 5. Whatever happens in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, when Justin Verlander will try to win the Astros the first World Series in their history, they will remember what happened on this Sunday night and into Monday morning, when the Astros kept coming back against the Dodgers and the Dodgers kept doing the same to them. This is now a World Series that is starting to feel like the Thrilla in Manila.
"I am able to do so many of the things I do because of him," Altuve said in the interview room with Correa sitting next to him.
"He is the best player alive right now," Correa said of Altuve. "When he is on the field, I always expect great things to happen."
Of course, the Dodgers weren't done. Wasn't that kind of game, that night, or morning, or baseball moment. L.A. scored a run in the top of the eighth and had second and third with one out and might have done more damage there if Taylor had tried to score, as he should have, from third on Justin Turner's liner to right. He did not (a mic picked up a conversation with third-base coach Chris Woodward in which Taylor heard him say "no" when Woodward had really said "gotta go," but the noise in the Park was too loud for true communication). It stayed 11-9. Brian McCann hit the sixth home run of the game in the bottom of the eighth to make it 12-9 Astros. And then with one out in the ninth -- of course -- Yasiel Puig hit one out to left.
12-11 in Game 5, about five minutes to midnight in Houston.
Two outs left for the Dodgers. Austin Barnes doubled to left-center. Tying run at second. Chris Devenski pitching for the Astros, trying to get them to within a win of winning the World Series. There have been so many World Series games to remember. There really had been one in Los Angeles last Wednesday night. Only it turned out to be prologue for what happened at Minute Maid on Sunday night, and into Monday morning.
Joc Pederson grounded out to Correa at short.
Now the Astros were one out away from winning Game 5, with the tying run on third. Taylor at the plate. One minute to midnight in Houston. Taylor's own chance at redemption after not scoring on Turner's ball in the eight.
Two-and-two on Chris Taylor.
Really was midnight at Minute Maid.
Taylor singled to center.
And it was 12-all.
Then, an inning later, Bregman was getting the last big hit of this game, providing the last bright, loud moment, and Fisher was scoring, and the Astros were ahead three games to two in the World Series.
"We sent the home crowd away from Minute Maid for the season in pretty good fashion," A.J. Hinch said.
They did a bit more than that. This was one of those games that made everyone watching, wherever they were watching, feel as if they were present, as if they were part of the roar and the magic of a sports event like this. This is how they said goodbye to the baseball season in Houston. Now Los Angeles says hello to Game 6.