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Sarah's Take: HRs abound as LA 'pen falters

October 30, 2017

Game 5 of the 2017 World Series was a five-plus-hour, 10-inning contest, and eventually the Astros prevailed, 13-12. At no point during the epic game did either team look as if it were in control. If the Dodgers had the last at-bat, they would have won. But the emotional roller

Game 5 of the 2017 World Series was a five-plus-hour, 10-inning contest, and eventually the Astros prevailed, 13-12. At no point during the epic game did either team look as if it were in control. If the Dodgers had the last at-bat, they would have won. But the emotional roller coaster was played in Houston, giving Alex Bregman the opportunity to hit a game-winning single against Kenley Jansen, the National League Reliever of the Year Award winner.
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When Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw started Game 5, no one expected a high-scoring affair. Neither pitcher was on his game. Keuchel couldn't locate the strike zone with his usually fantastic sinker, and the Dodgers took advantage, scoring three runs in the first.
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While Kershaw struck out 11 in seven innings during Game 1, he only fanned two in 4 2/3 frames on Sunday. He didn't have his biting slider working or good control, but he did get through the Astros' lineup the first time without allowing a run. But Kershaw couldn't baffle the hitters the second time around. A three-run homer by Yuli Gurriel in the fourth inning led to the Dodgers' downfall. Knowing his bullpen was spent, manager Dave Roberts tried to get Kershaw to go at least five innings, but unfortunately for L.A., Kershaw couldn't.
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Throughout the postseason for the Dodgers, Kenta Maeda has been brilliant, but Friday's 42-pitch outing apparently wore him out for Sunday night. Maeda relieved Kershaw and promptly allowed a three-run homer to Jose Altuve. This was the theme for the Dodgers' bullpen, which has been a strength for the team throughout the postseason. Roberts asked Brandon Morrow to pitch on three consecutive days for the first time in his career, and Morrow didn't record an out.
Friday's short outing by Yu Darvish has proven detrimental for the Dodgers because it tired the bullpen. Coming into the World Series, L.A. appeared to have one distinct advantage over Houston: the bullpen. Not anymore.

Entering the World Series, many thought the Dodgers' offense couldn't keep pace with the sensational Astros, who led baseball in runs scored during the regular season. Except for Game 3, when nothing went right for the Dodgers, the offense has proven it is as capable as the Astros'. Yasiel Puig had a rough World Series offensively until Sunday night in the ninth inning, when he blasted a two-run homer. Joc Pederson, whose batting average of .212 during the regular season earned him a demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City, has done well offensively during the Fall Classic. No matter if the Dodgers have the lead or trail, their hitters make the Astros' pitchers work.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch has removed Ken Giles from the closer role. Although Giles did well in that role during the regular season, he has struggled during the postseason. Hinch doesn't know which reliever he can rely upon.
This World Series has featured the most home runs in Fall Classic history with 22, with 14 of those either tying the game or giving one side the lead. This comes after a regular season that had the most homers in history with 6,105.
Having a travel day on Monday will benefit both teams, particularly their bullpens. To be world champions, the Dodgers must win the remaining two games of the Series at Dodger Stadium, where they have dominated for the entire 2017 season. The Astros need to win one more to earn the first world championship in their franchise history.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com.