Culture / Sporting Life

Dodgers Closer Kenley Jansen Mocks the Astros Chances of Winning Game 7

Houston Can Only Get Revenge with a World Series Championship

BY // 11.01.17

LOS ANGELES — The night ends with comedian George Lopez aimlessly wandering around the suite level of Dodger Stadium, long after many of the players have left the building to get their Game 7 rest. The comic stops to pose with some random guy’s LA Dodgers bulldog. Lopez looks like he’s had a very, very good time. It’s hard to imagine a Dodgers fan who hasn’t.

“I’ve got to find a car,” Lopez finally says, and his friend/associate nods his head sagely.

All of Los Angeles seems to be feeling it at the moment. An entire city seems to be convinced these Houston Astros are ready to roll over and play dead after losing 3-1 to the Dodgers in Game 6 on Halloween with their ace Justin Verlander on the mound.

If you listen to Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, the Astros might as well not even show up for the Game 7 drama. As ESPN’s Pedro Gomez detailed, Jansen reportedly told his teammates before Game 6 that Houston will have no chance if LA gets it to seven. Then he doubles down on that in his on-the-field interview with Fox after his six-out save gets the Dodgers to Wednesday.

“We don’t want to give it up in our place and it’s not happening,” Jansen vows.

You can imagine how this is being received in the Astros clubhouse, the proud clubhouse of a 101-win team that’s already pulled off two historic comeback wins in this deadlocked World Series.

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“We don’t talk like that,” Verlander shoots back when asked about Jansen’s words. “… May the dust settle on the field, not with our mouths.”

This series did not need any extra drama. But it sure has it now.

“You can say whatever you want to say, it’s a free country,” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa says. “But at the end of the day, you have to come back out and compete tomorrow…. Hopefully, he can back it up (in Game 7).”

If you don’t think that’s like a shark warning his prey, you don’t know Correa.

Still, Jansen certainly seems to be feeling it after he looks like his dominant regular season self for really the first time this series in the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. After retiring the Astros on only 11 pitches in the ninth, he flings the baseball toward the the side of own dugout.

Kenley Jansen wants everyone to know he’s a bad man. But it’s hard to imagine these Astros being intimidated by some cartoon act.

Remember when Yankees fans showered Astros fans with beer, screamed unimaginable things at George Springer in the outfield and even threw things at the field? The New Yorkers thought they’d spooked the Houston team right out of the American League Championship Series. Instead, Jose Altuve and Company turned around and won two straight elimination games.

This Houston team’s answered the call all season and throughout a wild 17-game playoff odyssey. Now, they need one more improbable win to win the first baseball championship in their city’s history.

“This group has been something special since I joined it,” Verlander says. We’ve already been part of two of the greatest World Series games in history.”

What’s one more for the Astros?

Lance McCullers Jr. gets the ball first in Game 7 of the World Series.

They’ll try to grab it Lance McCullers Jr., their 24-year-old future ace in training, taking the ball at the start — and virtually every other pitcher on staff (maybe even Verlander) available for an out or two.

“No matter what, this series is going down in history as one of the best World Series of all time,” Verlander says. “I’m sure something spectacular is going to happen tomorrow.”

There is no other way this clash between baseball titans should end. No Game 6 did not go according to script. But when has anything in this World Series gone according to script?

Verlander In Vain

You cannot wish yourself to a World Series title. No matter how bad you want it, no matter how well everything seems set up for your clubhouse to turn into champagne city, no matter who is on the mound, there are no guarantees in sports. Championships have to grabbed — step by step, inch by inch, pitch by pitch.

The Houston Astros cannot complete the last step in an absolutely wild Halloween night in Dodger Stadium. They remain stuck on 10 postseason wins, needing 11 to reach baseball nirvana. Even with Verlander on the mound, dealing. Even with two or three chances to blow Game 6 of the World Series wide open into pure Houston joy.

It’s the Dodgers who calm their nerves, come back against the best pitcher in this series, and take a 3-1 win that renders everything else moot. This epic World Series is going to a Game 7, winner take all. Could this series really end any other way?

Now, the Astros must somehow stop the Dodgers from doing to them in the World Series what they did to the Yankees in the ALCS — falling down 3-2 in the series and coming home to win two.

Verlander lives up to the hype like a Hollywood blockbuster almost never does in Game 6. He strikes out seven in Dodgers in the first four innings, gives up one measly single. It truly looks the Midnight Ace — the man who agreed to come to Houston just seconds before the deadline — is fine with a Springer Dinger being the only run he will need.

When the Astros cannot get anything out of a no out, runners on second and third situation in the top of the fifth inning, it looks like Verlander may have to do it with one. He cannot quite manage it, with the Dodgers scraping out two runs against him without hitting a ball particularly hard.

“One run is not enough,” Correa says.

The Astros have scored one run, two runs and one run respectively in their three World Series losses. One more limp offensive showing and Houston’s long wait for a major championship will drag on.

The Dodgers will trot out all their usual celebrity star power for Game 7. Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher — and a certain towering 7-foot-3 NBA legend (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) — stand on top of the dugouts and wave Dodgers flags minutes before the first pitch before Game 6.

The Astros go about things in a simpler way. In the immediate aftermath of the heart wrenching Game 6 loss — the first time they’ve truly squandered a Verlander game this fall — Astros president Reid Ryan simply walks by the long line of reporters waiting to get into Houston’s clubhouse and says, “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

If any team can immediately turn the page, and make Kenley Jansen regret his boastful predictions, its these resilient, never-give-in Astros battlers.

“We’ve got a Game 7,” Altuve says.

The most longtime Astros fans have waited 56 years for a game like this. Only, the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers have a longer current title drought in all of baseball. Game 6 only brings hope… and agony. What’s waiting one more night, though?

Bring on the magic. Please.

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