LOS ANGELES — George Springer didn’t miss his pitch. The Astros’ center fielder barely missed any during the first six games of the World Series so why would Game 7 be any different?
So on a 3-2 count in the top of the second, Yu Darvish tried sneaking a 95 mph four-seam fastball by the 28-year-old stud. It was supposed to be on the outside part of the plate. But it drifted over the heart of it. Springer smoked it, deposited it 10 rows deep in Dodger Stadium’s center field bleachers. Only eight outs into the game, Springer gave the Astros a 5-run lead they would never relinquish.
"I just remember swinging and hearing the sound of the bat and I knew it was a good sound and then I saw the flight of the ball," said Springer, drenched in champagne. "It's a crazy feeling. Because this is Game 7. This is what you dream of as a kid and for that to happen is indescribable."
And once the final out was secured, Springer sprinted from center field, embraced his teammates, and basked in the glory of leading the Astros’ to their first World Series title. In front of 54,124 at Dodger Stadium, Springer was the catalyst for the Astros 5-1 series clinching victory over the Dodgers. He was the man of the night, the one carrying around a ridiculously shiny new trophy MLB is handing out for the World Series' top performer.
Of course Springer wasn’t solely responsible for Wednesday's win, or the series, but he deserves all the props in the immediate aftermath of a winner take all World Series game and was justly rewarded with the Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Springer, the Astros’ 2011 first round draft pick out of UConn, became the first player in World Series history to homer in four straight Fall Classic games and finished the series slashing .379/.471/1.000 with 5 HR and 7 RBI. He was also the guy on that Sports Illustrated cover back in 2014 thing boldly proclaimed the Astros, with their Trust The Process like methods of slowly building a contender from scratch, as 2017 World Series champions. Maybe most importantly, he was the guy in charge of the music in the clubhouse before the game.
“The jams today I can say were on point," Springer said. "I went with my 80s playlist. I got the boys right, obviously.”
While the Astros were right, the Dodgers—favorites at the beginning of the series—were all kinds of wrong. They left a small army on the bases, failing to do their part to provide fans with a worthy World Series Game 7 baseball usually produces. While the Dodger faithful did their best to urge on their squad, by the eighth inning they were fleeing for the exits. Darvish was bad and the Dodgers' bats fell silent, failing time after time to capitalize on opportunities to get back in the game against a Houston pitching staff they had previously teed off of on in Games 2, 3, 4, and 5.
But maybe it’s fitting that this memorable World Series finished with a forgettable Game 7. This Fall Classic provided us with so much drama and intrigue in Games 2 and 5, specifically, that it was almost impossible to expect another game for the ages. We saw a record number of home runs hit over the seven games, plenty of absurd comebacks, and one bone-headed racially insensitive gesture that marred an otherwise awesome World Series.
Yuli Guriel was the one who mocked Darvish after he homered off the Japanese pitcher in Game 3. In a touching gesture before his first at-bat of Game 7, the Cuban product tipped his helmet toward Darvish, officially putting his idiotic behavior behind him.
But that was the last feel good moment for the Dodgers. Darvish got hit around again, after surrendering four runs over 1.2 innings in Game 3. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts eventually went to his ace, Clayton Kershaw, who was pitching on extremely short rest. He pitched well after starting Game 5 Sunday, throwing four innings of relief and giving up only two hits and two walks while striking out four. But by the time he was in the game, the damage was done. The Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball this season, are still looking for the franchise’s sixth World Series title. They last won it all in 1988. The city of Houston, meanwhile, gets to bask in its first championship in a major sport since the Rockets in 1995. On the field and in the bowels of Dodger Stadium hours after the final out, the players, coaches, and executives all paid tribute to their city that is still dealing with the damage wrecked by Hurricane Harvey.
“For our team, our organization, our city, this is a great day,” Springer said.