Scripted or not, the proliferation of reality TV shows over the past couple of decades cannot hold a candle to what occurs time and time again in high profile sporting events.
Sunday’s Game 5 was one of more unusual yet entertaining games of any World Series game ever played and arguably was one of the top five games in World Series history.
Not just were three 3 run deficits erased but the game featured 7 home runs, bringing the total for a World Series – of any length – to a record 22 through the first five games
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts determined before Game 6 that reliever Brandon Morrow, often used as a setup man for closer Kenley Jansen, would not be used Sunday evening after having pitched both on Friday in Game 4 and in Saturday’s Game 5 and had never pitched on three straight days in his career.
But Morrow had insisted throughout the day leading up to game time that he felt fine and would be capable of throwing if needed. Evidently Roberts was persuaded to use Morrow in a key spot in the bottom of the seventh inning after the Dodgers had taken an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh.
Morrow had nothing and his first pitched was launched into the left field stands by George Springer, whose misplay of a shot hit by the Dodgers Cody Bellinger and generously scored a triple, allowed the Dodgers to take that lead. Following the homer by Springer a hard hit single by Alex Bregman was followed by a double by Jose Altuve and then, after a wild pitch by Morrow allowed Altuve to take third, a two run homer by Carlos Correa gave the Astros an 11-7 lead.
More theatrics were in store before the Astros won the game, 13-12, in the bottom of the tenth inning to take a 3 games to 2 lead to Los Angeles for Tuesday’s Game 6 and, if the Dodgers win, a Game 7 on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s matchup is a repeat of Game 2 in which Houston also won a wild game, 7-6 in 11 innings, after Houston starter Justin Verlander and Dodgers starter Rich Hill pitched decently until pulled in the middle innings. Verlander pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs while Hill was pulled in the fifth inning after allowing just 1 run.
In the reprise matchup Verlander and the Astros opened as minus 110 favorites in what is literally a “must win” game for the Dodgers or their season is over and the Astros are World Series champions.
Yet despite the need and playing at home the early money came in on Houston and as of mid morning Monday the ‘Stros were minus 120 at the Westgate. The Total opened and remained at 8. Note that in Game 2 the Dodgers, leading 1 game to none, opened as minus 115 favorites but the line closed with Verlander and Houston minus 110.
It is very tempting to take the Dodgers as home underdogs to avoid elimination and perhaps the early more towards Houston is a set up designed to attract public money to follow the mover and send the line up to Houston minus 125 or so and then a buyback on the Dodgers appears.
We’ve seen these ‘yo yo’ moves much more often in recent seasons and in all sports, both during regular season play and in the post season. Often triggered by large syndicates seeking to create middle opportunities the technique has proven profitable enough to continue to be used.
From a fundamental standpoint it would make sense to back Houston to wrap up the series in Game 6 with their veteran ace, Verlander, giving them a much better chance to win than they would have in Game 7. Verlander would likely need to pitch deep into the game with the Dodgers still having the major edge in the bullpen.
Despite his struggles in Game 3 the Dodgers’ Yu Darvish would likely start a Game 7 against fellow Game 3 starter Lance McCullers Jr or Game 4 starter Charlie Morton. It would not come as a surprise if Houston manager A J Hinch has already planned to use both for 4 or 5 inning stretches if there is a Game 7.
If there is a Game 7 the Dodgers would likely be solid favorites to win that seventh and deciding game on their home field and win the World Series after having the most regular season wins. At minus 150 or less the Dodgers would make for the play in Game 7 but at more than minus 15o the Dodgers minus a run and a half could be considered instead.
Thus, if you are reading this on Tuesday you might want to back Houston should the line start to drop favoring the Astros as money comes in on the Dodgers.
Despite the many home runs throughout the Series the UNDER would still be preferred to the OVER, especially in a Game 7 when every pitcher would be available to be used at the first sign of trouble.
Enjoy the final game (or two) of the 2016 and remember it’s only a little more than three months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.