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Wood's Series start 'a whirlwind of emotion'

Dodgers lefty twirls no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings before allowing homer
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

HOUSTON -- Neither the numbers outlined on his baseball card nor a cursory glance at his background fully encapsulates the road that took Alex Wood to the mound at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night. To assume that the journey had been relatively straight and smooth would be to ignore some of its most defining moments.

Sure, the lefty had enjoyed the prototypical standout college career, which predictably positioned him as a high Draft pick and accelerated his climb to the Majors. And yes, success came relatively quickly at the big league level, too, where Wood began his career with a 3.35 ERA from 2013-16.

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HOUSTON -- Neither the numbers outlined on his baseball card nor a cursory glance at his background fully encapsulates the road that took Alex Wood to the mound at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night. To assume that the journey had been relatively straight and smooth would be to ignore some of its most defining moments.

Sure, the lefty had enjoyed the prototypical standout college career, which predictably positioned him as a high Draft pick and accelerated his climb to the Majors. And yes, success came relatively quickly at the big league level, too, where Wood began his career with a 3.35 ERA from 2013-16.

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But the opportunity to start Game 4 of the World Series, a game in which he helped the Dodgers to a Series-evening 6-2 win over the Astros, came at the intersection of so much more. And maybe, Wood wondered when it was all over, that was how it was meant to be all along.

See, Oct. 28 held significance to Wood long before he ever found out it would be the day on which he'd make his first World Series start. His parents were engaged on this date nearly three decades earlier. His best friend suffered a life-changing accident that left him paralyzed on this date eight years ago. It happens to be his girlfriend's birthday, too.

"It's been a whirlwind of emotion for me," the 26-year-old said as he tried to wrap his head around the magnitude of his 5 2/3-inning, one-hit performance. "I believe in fate, and I believe everything happens for a reason. I usually don't get too emotional, but just the culmination of all those things together ... there's a lot of important people in my life and events, good and bad, that have happened."

Fitting, then, that all those people -- including longtime friend Chance Veazy, for whom Wood inked a "Second Chance" tattoo on his arm -- were in the stands Saturday to watch Wood defy expectation. A pitcher who hadn't cracked the Dodgers' rotation out of Spring Training silenced the Astros' potent offense through two turns of the lineup.

He entered the fifth locked in a scoreless duel with Charlie Morton and not having allowed a hit. A groundout and strikeout to open the frame made Wood the first pitcher since Jerry Koosman (1969) to throw at least 5 2/3 no-hit innings in a World Series game. It was the third deepest no-hit bid by a World Series starter since Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956.

"Just outstanding tonight," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts marveled afterward.

Video: WS2017 Gm4: Roberts on decision to pull Wood in 6th

About the only thing Wood couldn't do Saturday was come off the mound on his own terms. Facing leadoff hitter George Springer for a third time, Wood threw a 3-1 curveball that Springer golfed off the facade above the left-field Crawford Boxes. Gone was the shutout and the no-hit bid. Out came Roberts who, with Brandon Morrow warm, was ready to turn the game over to his robust 'pen.

"Woody's command tonight, his compete, was just off the charts," Roberts said. "The focus and just on this stage to leave it all out there, I just felt that where they're at in the order and how much he's been used or pushed over the last month, right there, that's all he had. And for me, for us, that was plenty."

Video: WS2017 Gm4: Hinch on team's struggles against Wood

Despite the jarring end to his night, Wood gave the Dodgers the length they craved after leaning on the bullpen for 19 outs in Game 3. Before Springer's blast, he had walked two and faced one over the minimum. The Astros hadn't pushed a runner into scoring position.

With Morton dominating, that's all the room for error Wood had. Saturday marked the first World Series game since 1981 in which both starting pitchers finished at least 5 2/3 innings with no more than three hits and one run allowed.

"Wood threw a great game. Just unbelievable," Morton said. "This is a tough place to pitch. The crowd's into it. Our lineup's phenomenal. So hat's off to him."

Video: WS2017 Gm4: Wood on what was clicking in Game 4

Seven months after learning that he would be opening the year in the bullpen, Wood distinguished himself as one of nine pitchers in World Series history to allow one hit or less in a start of at least 5 2/3 innings. It happened most recently with David Cone (1999).

Wood did so, too, against an Astros lineup that had pounded out 11 runs in its previous 12 innings. Furthermore, Houston had been a perfect 7-0 at home this postseason.

Video: Wood joins MLB Tonight after Game 4 of World Series

"Facing those guys and really their whole lineup in general, you have to execute," Wood said. "If you don't execute, they're going to make you pay, as you've seen a little bit throughout the Series so far and watching them all year. They're a special lineup. It takes one pitch to change the game with any of the guys in their lineup. I was happy with the way we executed tonight."

So were those who had come to watch him.

As the enormity of his performance was still sinking in, Wood walked out of the Dodgers' clubhouse late Saturday night to find his family waiting. He and his father shared a long and emotional embrace while chants of "Al-ex! Al-ex!" rose from around them.

His mom, Carol, smiled.

"That's my baby," she said. "And Kershaw next!"

Video: Wood brings a no-hitter into the 6th inning of Game 4

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Alex Wood