The World Series is exciting for an Astros fan

Published 11:30 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

I am sure most of you Georgia friends went to bed long before the grueling World Series game between my Astros and the dreaded Dodgers ended Wednesday night.

But you heard about it Thursday morning.

This game will go down as one of the best World Series games ever, and it even had a couple of nice “Georgia” touches to it that made me feel good too. Although, I was already feeling pretty well when the 11th inning came to a merciful close.

I knew I would have to etch this story in my hometown paper and share it with you as we drink our coffee and “catch up” this Saturday morning.

The game summary is more of an EKG of my heart rate Wednesday night than anything — the Dodgers had two hits through nine innings, but both were daggers that would chase the almost-untouchable Verlander in the seventh.

The Dodgers carried the lead to the ninth.

It was almost over.

The Astros were three outs away from heading back to Houston down 0-2 in the series, and they were batting against the “untouchable” closer Janson. They are so untouchable that manager Dave Roberts pulled the starter after four innings and started slinging a different reliever every inning. By the end of the night, he had drained the well dry and it would cost him. What we learned was that when you get to the Dodgers’ eighth reliever, you have a good shot.

Still, the Astros first had to solve the best reliever in the game in the ninth, down a run. And they did. Left-fielder Marwin Gonzales took Janson deep with an opposite-field homer to tie the game, stunning star-studded Dodger stadium. After the game Janson could not think of Gonzalez’s name, calling him “what’s his name.” That’s the kind of blow Gonzalez delivered to Dodger-land.

That blast woke up the Astros’ bats. In the tenth, Jose Altuve — the Astros 5 – foot – 6 giant — hit one out to left-center, and young superstar Carlos Correa encored with a rocket to deep left to put the Astros up 5-3. I called my daughter Rachel to celebrate, only to find she had just awoken her whole household, including the dog, in her excitement.

But Atlanta and Houston fans understand frustration more than any. And, sure enough, closer Ken Giles — sometimes the “shakiest gun in the west” — came out in the 10th to give up a homer, a walk, a wild pitch, and a game-tying hit to the Dodgers, and suddenly we’re tied again at 5-5.

Fortunately for the Astros, the Dodgers had no more Tom Glavins — or Tom Smoltz’s, who expertly did the color for the game. With a runner on, the Astros’ George Springer snapped a bitter slump with an opposite-field, two-run homer to give the Astros the 7-5 lead and dim those stars sitting in the high-dollar Dodger stadium seats.

But you know Mudville never relaxes, and the Astros’ Devenski gave the Dodgers another home run in the bottom of the eleventh before mercifully seizing the final palm-sweating, heart-racing, breathtaking, midnight strike.

While you were sleeping, Georgia friends, the ‘Stros were escaping Dodger Stadium with a 7-6 win, their first Word Series win ever. They have their swagger back, their bats have come out of hibernation, and they have a chance.

After it was over, I remembered that other Georgia connection, in addition to Smoltz. Hank Aaron was in the stadium Wednesday night. He had come to present the Astros’ Jose Altuve with the American League’s “Hank Aaron Award,” given to the league’s best hitter.

It seemed fitting that Hammerin’ Hank, the world’s greatest homerun hitter, would be back and a part of such a night. And, somehow, I can’t help but wonder if part of Hank didn’t climb into the skin of the Astros’ hitters in the ninth, tenth and eleventh innings when the ‘Stros came out of nowhere and blasted those four behemoth homers.

If I’m right, I think our old hero Hank just hammered out that World Series win that eluded him years ago.

Steven Ray Bowen is a former Granger who lives and writes in Red Oak, Texas.