“You can’t worry about the result of each at-bat,” he said. “You just have to stay in the moment.”
In the biggest game of the season, the biggest game in Astros history and certainly the biggest game of his life, Springer remained in the moment.
He tied the World Series record with his fifth home run, crushing a 3-2 fastball from Dodgers starter Yu Darvish way out to left-center field in the second inning at Dodger Stadium during Wednesday night’s Game 7 to give the Astros a 5-0 lead and knocking Darvish from the game.
Springer matched Reggie Jackson (1977) and Chase Utley (2009) for the record of five home runs in one World Series, although both of them did it in a six-game Series. Springer, who doubled and scored in the first inning, also has 29 total bases in the World Series, breaking the record of 25 shared by Willie Stargell (1979) and Jackson.
Through his first two plate appearances in Game 7, the Astros center fielder was hitting .423 in the World Series, with seven RBIs, eight runs and eight extra-base hits. His first four home runs of the Series each tied the game or gave the Astros the lead, and by the finale, he had homered in four straight games, becoming the first player to do that in a single World Series.
Consider the clutch factor of his home runs:
Game 2: Hit a two-run homer off Brandon McCarthy in the top of the 11th to give the Astros a 7-5 lead in an eventual 7-6 victory.
Game 4: Gave the Astros a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, when he broke up Alex Wood‘s no-hitter with a home run way out to left field off a 3-1 curveball.
Game 5: In the wild 13-12 win for the Astros, his seventh-inning homer — a 112 mph laser estimated at 448 feet — off Brandon Morrow tied the game at 8.
Game 6: Made it 1-0 in the third inning with an opposite-field shot off Rich Hill.
Game 7: With two outs in the second inning, his 438-foot two-run shot broke open a 3-0 game to give the Astros some early breathing room.
Maybe it is fitting that Springer has turned into a World Series hero for the Astros. A first-round pick out of the University of Connecticut in 2011, it was Springer who appeared on the infamous Sports Illustrated cover in 2014 that declared the Astros “Your 2017 World Series champs.” The Astros were mired in the midst of a 92-loss season that year, a season that actually was a big improvement over their three previous years, when the Astros had lost 100-plus games as the front office rebuilt the team from scratch.
For this entire postseason, Springer has had six home runs, all from the leadoff spot, tying Lenny Dykstra’s postseason record for home runs by a leadoff hitter.
The Astros have set a World Series record with 15 home runs as a team.
Springer’s Game 7 shot closed the door on a World Series to forget for Darvish. The Dodgers righty is just the second pitcher ever to fail to complete the second inning in multiple starts within the same World Series. The other is Art Ditmar, who did so for the New York Yankees in Games 1 and 5 of the 1960 World Series. Darvish induced just four swing-and-misses in his 96 total pitches thrown in the Series.
Springer wasn’t the only member of the Astros to make history on Wednesday night.
Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. became the first pitcher to hit four batters in any postseason game, plunking Yasiel Puig and Kike Hernandez once each and Justin Turner twice. According to Elias Sports Bureau, McCullers also became the first pitcher to hit four batters within the first three innings of any game, regular season or postseason, since 2000; coincidentally, it was Dodgers starter Orel Hershiser who hit four Astros in that game.
On Wednesday, McCullers was pulled one batter after hitting Turner for the second time, finishing with three strikeouts, four hit batters and no runs allowed in 2⅓ innings. He turned in the second shortest scoreless start in a World Series winner-take-all game; the shortest appearance was by Curly Ogden (one-third of an inning) of the 1924 Washington Senators.
McCullers left after striking out Cody Bellinger, who swung his way into history, as well. Bellinger’s third-inning strikeout was his 16th of the Series, tying him with New York‘s Aaron Judge (2017 American League Division Series) for the most K’s in any single postseason series.
Bellinger, who hit the second-most home runs in the National League this season with 39, was baffled by McCullers, going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in the World Series against the right-hander. Bellinger whiffed on nine of his 12 swings against McCullers in the Series, and of the 19 total pitches he saw from McCullers, 18 were curveballs.