Red Sox

WORLD SERIES: Astros take series lead with wild 13-12, 10-inning victory

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WORLD SERIES: Astros take series lead with wild 13-12, 10-inning victory

HOUSTON -- When the winning run finally came sliding across home plate on Alex Bregman's single, more than five unforgettable hours after the first pitch, a frantic Carlos Correa sprinted toward his Houston Astros teammates in the middle of the diamond.

Arm in the air, pure elation all over his face.

A last indelible image from a World Series classic filled with them.

Correa, Jose Altuve and the Astros kept hammering away in a wild slugfest that no one saw coming, rallying against Clayton Kershaw and rocking the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-12 in 10 thrilling innings Sunday night for a 3-2 lead.

"I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack out there," Correa said.

In a tension-filled game of monster momentum swings at pulsating Minute Maid Park, the last one belonged to Bregman . With the packed crowd still standing well past midnight, the 23-year-old third baseman hit an RBI single with two outs off Kenley Jansen.

"The best game ever, for sure," Correa said.

Wacky and whacky with seven home runs, this perhaps topped Toronto's 15-14 win over the Phillies in 1993 as the craziest World Series showdown ever.

Exhilaration and exhaustion, spread over 5 hours, 17 minutes.

"Yeah, five-hour game, but it doesn't matter. I can play a 10-hour game if we are going to win," Altuve said.

Now, with both bullpens worn down, the teams get a day to recover. Game 6 will be Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, where Justin Verlander will try to clinch the Astros' first championship and Rich Hill hopes to save Los Angeles' season.

Altuve, Correa, Yuli GurrielGeorge Springer and Brian McCann homered for Houston , the highest-scoring team in the majors this season.

Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig went deep for the Dodgers, who scored three times in the ninth to make it 12-all.

"It's hard to put into words all the twists and turns in that game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

"These are just two really good teams, just throwing haymakers at each other trying to outlast each other," he said.

Silent when ace Dallas Keuchel got crushed, the orange-clad fans erupted over and over as the Astros sent balls careening all around - and out of - the park.

Yet on another night of Home Run Derby in the Year of the Home Run, no lead was safe.

Puig lined a two-run shot in the ninth, the record 22nd homer in a single Series, and Chris Taylor's two-out single off Chris Devenski tied it.

"I think this whole series has been an emotional roller coaster," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "It's the two best teams playing for a championship. And these are two teams that play 27 outs."

More than that, in fact.

Houston posted its second extra-inning victory of the Series, adding to its 7-6, 11-inning comeback win in a dramatic Game 2.

With two down in the 10th, Jansen hit McCann on the hand with a pitch and Springer walked.

Bregman, who homered off Jansen in Saturday night's loss, lined the next pitch over shortstop to score pinch-runner Derek Fisher, who slid home ahead of the throw from left fielder Andre Ethier.

"We're up 3-2, baby," Bregman said.

Out of nowhere, the Astros climbed out of a four-run hole against Kershaw and then erased two more deficits later in the game, tying it each time on a homer.

Correa leaped and twirled after launching a two-run drive that made it 11-8 in the seventh . Much later, he hurdled the dugout railing the moment Bregman lined his winning single.

Bellinger hit a three-run drive in the fifth that made it 7-4 and seemed to swing things back in the Dodgers' favor. By the end of the mayhem on the mound, it was a mere afterthought.

Each team had 14 hits, eight for extra bases, and both used seven pitchers.

"Man, I'm mentally exhausted right now," Bellinger said.

Before the game, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush were on the field for the first-pitch ceremony. By the end of the night, most everyone was bushed.

The Astros (13) and Dodgers (9) topped the Series mark for homers , set when Barry Bonds and the Giants lost to the Angels in seven games in 2002.

But really, who imagined this?

No wonder there's a bright sign high above the center field wall for a popular taco place in town - it says Torchys and fit perfectly for a game where pitchers got lit up.

A day earlier, Kershaw stood alone on the mound after the Dodgers' dramatic win in Game 4, trying to get a visual for the biggest start of his career.

This was definitely not how he pictured it.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner cruised into the fourth with a 4-0 lead before things suddenly fell apart. After Correa hit an RBI double, Gurriel launched a tying, three-run drive.

Kershaw whipped his head around to watch Gurriel's drive sail, his face immediately showing shock, utter disbelief and frustration, all wrapped up in one expression before he bent over, hands on his knees.

Yanked in the fifth, Kershaw trudged off with a dubious distinction - he has allowed a postseason-record eight home runs this year.

"Just exactly what you expect (when you) come to the park with Keuchel and Kershaw pitching," Hinch said.

Hardly a repeat performance from the opener, when Kershaw dominated while outpitching Keuchel for a 3-1 win.

Gurriel's second homer of the Series also kept open this possibility: Imagine the scene if Major League Baseball presents Gurriel with the MVP trophy, so soon after Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended him for the first five games next year for making a racist gesture toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish.

Keuchel never got into a rhythm during the shortest home start of his All-Star career. His breaking pitches spun without much movement, and he was pulled in the fourth.

The Dodgers hadn't lost a game this year when they led by four runs. But Kershaw's bedeviling postseason past came back to haunt him at the worst time.

Kershaw was pulled after a pair of two-out walks in the bottom of the fifth. And with the crowd sensing something big, the 5-foot-6 Altuve connected off Kenta Maeda for a home run that made it 7-all.

"At that point, I talked to him before getting the at-bat: `This is your moment,'" Correa said. "And he didn't let me down. He hit a homer and got us going."

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Drellich: Red Sox identity, standing as league's best will be tested

Drellich: Red Sox identity, standing as league's best will be tested

The greatest question the Red Sox face entering the second half of the season — well, final two-fifths, really — whether they’re good enough to avoid a Wild Card game. Whether they hold on to the American League East and keep the Yankees at bay. 

How many wins the Sox (68-30) wind up with does not matter outside of that context. A 105-win season would look plenty disappointing if it gives way to a loss in the only playoff game the Sox play in 2018.

Lurking in the background is more of a question of context and remembrance. Will these Sox eventually be recalled for something other than being outrageously good? 

They do not need to be, mind you. No team needs to do anything besides win (and act responsibly and benevolently as citizens, you could also say). This is the best team in baseball, with 64 games left on its schedule. They arrive, they rake and shove, they do it again the next day. It's 2007 all over again.

“It’s a very weird feeling in the clubhouse,” J.D. Martinez said in Washington D.C., during the All-Star Game festivities. “From the moment I got into spring training, it’s like everyone goes out there and whether we’re losing by a lot or we’re winning by a lot, the mood is always the same. There’s never any panic. 

"There’s no really like highs and lows it seems like in the clubhouse. It’s just everything is kind of like, even-keeled. So to me it’s like, it’s almost like that’s who we are: we’re playing like how we’re supposed to be playing."

The Sox are not underdogs with the highest payroll in baseball. They’re not all bearded. There are no reports of Jack Daniels shots prior to games. There’s certainly no curse to be broken, or any other broad backdrop, aside from the desire to avenge early exits in 2016 and 2017.

None of those threads are necessary for enjoyment, although they can act as an enhancement. Perhaps there’s a blue-collar narrative to be found here, if you can ignore the highest payroll in baseball. 

“Ah man, I don’t know,” Martinez said when asked about identity. “I feel like this is a very close group. It almost feels like a family. Everyone’s rooting for each other. I don’t know if I can put a label on it, it’s just, everyone always wants to grow and get better. Everyone’s always asking questions, and continuing to just not be satisfied I feel like in their own. They always want to get better. It’s been fun.”

The questions for Martinez and Mookie Betts didn’t stop at the All-Star Game, either. Both players will be high vote-getters in the American League MVP race, and Betts may well win. The duo, led by Martinez’s methods as well as hitting coach Tim Hyers, seems to have figured something out, a hitting approach that maximizes their off-the-chart talents.

“There’s a lot of hitting talk, but it’s not necessarily, ‘How do you do it?’” Betts said when asked if All-Stars were trying to understand what he and Martinez have been doing. “It’s the approaches and what not that you use. Just passing along information, that’s how everybody gets better. Everybody wants to get better.”

Hard to imagine the Sox actually getting better, given it would be a shock if they did not win 100 games. The Sox need to play .500 ball the rest of the way to reach that vaunted mark.

Martinez was asked if the Sox have peaked.

“I don’t know, you can always get better, right?” he said. “But we have a good team. I think we’re a very versatile team. I always say this: like, this is a team that can beat you in multiple ways. You can have someone throw a shutout and us put up one run. Or you know, us go out there and put up 10 runs and us win. You know the bullpen comes in, shuts the door. 

“We can steal bases. We can manufacture runs. It’s a team that’s not dependent on winning on one way. I kind of remember when I was in Detroit it was like, we had to slug. That was what we had to do to score. Here, it’s different.”

But, again, being good, or being different, or improving from this point really matters in only one context: the Yankees (62-33). They’re the only other team that can with East. And the prize associated with clinching the division — avoiding a one-game Wild Card berth — is tremendous. 

The Yanks sit 4 1/2 games back, with more games to play than the Sox down the stretch. Whether the Sox win 100 games, 110 games, really doesn’t matter outside of the magic and novelty associated with a big number. 

As of Wednesday, the Red Sox had a 58.1 percent chance to win the division, per Baseball Prospectus’ daily playoff odds. The Yanks were at 41.9 percent. They next meet in the first week of August at Fenway Park.

"We have a long way to go," Betts said. "We have to take these couple days to heal up, rest up and get ready to go."

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Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for five prospects

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Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for five prospects

The Dodgers are the winners of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, acquiring the ex-Orioles slugger in exchange for five prospects.

The prospects heading to Baltimore in the deal per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic are outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-handed pitcher Zach Pop, right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer, and second baseman Breyvic Valera.

Machado, 26,  is enjoying another stellar season, hitting .315 with 24 home runs at the break. The Dodgers fill the void at shortstop left by Corey Seager, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. Machado is set to be a free agent after the season.

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