George Springer, Cameron Maybin give Astros decisive runs in comeback win over Dodgers
The unlikely heroes have the bloodlines for make-or-break situations
LOS ANGELES — After 55 years of existence, the Houston Astros finally won a World Series game.
Naturally, any team that has waited that long to break through in major league baseball’s championship series would have an unlikely hero.
Enter slumping All-Star outfielder George Springer, who hit 3-for-30 in the seven-game American League Championship Series and struck out in each of his four at-bats in Game 1 on Tuesday.
Springer sent a 2-1 pitch from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Brandon McCarthy into right field for a two-run homer in the 11th inning, which proved to be the winning margin in Houston’s 7-6 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday night. The Astros head home to Minute Maid Park for Game 3 on Friday night with the series tied 1-1.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch had taken questions for the past week about his confidence in Springer.
“If you respond to every bad game or tough game, you’ll bounce these guys around and ruin their confidence in a heartbeat,” Hinch said Wednesday. “This is one of our best players, and there’s no need to panic over a bad night against Clayton Kershaw [in Game 1]. I don’t care if it’s a bad game against any pitcher, this game is really, really hard. Our guys and the Dodgers make it look really easy, but it’s a hard game. And there’s a ton of failure involved.
“I believe in players, and I specifically believe in George, and tonight is an example why. He wasn’t broken, his swing is not bad, he’s not gone for the series. He had a bad night and came back with one of the best nights.”
Cameron Maybin, on base when Springer hit his home run, led off the 11th with a single and stole second.
“Cam was absolutely huge,” Springer said. “And him right there stealing second made it easier on me. The goal right there for me was to get him to third base because we’ve got the MVP of the league [José Altuve] up in a hitter. … I knew if I could get him to third base, he would score. And I was fortunate enough to hit a ball well.”
Springer’s rust showed a little bit when he and Maybin attempted to do their handshake in the dugout after his two-run shot.
If two players were under the radar but also well-built for that kind of make-or-break situation, it was Maybin and Springer.
Maybin comes from a family that includes professional athletes across the NBA, WNBA, NFL and Canadian Football League. He has spent his entire life living for high-stress competitive moments.
The day after tweeting about how Jackie Robinson opened the door for him and other players of color, Maybin saw his first offensive action since Houston’s 8-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Oct. 16. He entered Game 2 of the World Series in the bottom of the 10th inning and was the leadoff batter for the visitors in the deciding 11th.
Springer hails from a family that includes his Panamanian grandfather, who pitched for four years at the Teachers College of Connecticut, a father who played in the Little League World Series and played football for UConn, a mother who competed as a gymnast for Puerto Rico and two sisters who played softball.
“I just think when the lights turn on even brighter, you tend to subconsciously press, and you want to succeed so bad that you start to do things that you wouldn’t do, or you start to come out of an approach that has worked the whole year,” said Springer, the Astros’ 2011 first-round pick. “And this is my first experience at playing this far, playing this long and in a game of this magnitude. So for me to kind of experience it and to kind of understand, hey, slow yourself down. I understand now why guys struggle in the postseason and some don’t.”
Trailing 3-1, the Astros scored six runs from the eighth inning on.
Marwin Gonzalez homered in the ninth off the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen to send the game into extra innings. Altuve and Carlos Correa hit back-to-back solo home runs off the Dodgers’ Josh Fields in the top of the 10th to give the Astros their first lead since the third inning, 5-3.
Los Angeles returned the favor with two runs in the bottom of the frame, which Yasiel Puig started with a solo shot to left field. Logan Forsythe walked with two outs, and Enrique Hernandez drove him in with an RBI double into center field.
Springer put Houston ahead by two again in the 11th. The Dodgers’ Charlie Culberson made it interesting with a solo home run, but Chris Devenski struck out Puig in a nine-pitch at-bat to send the series back to Houston tied.