LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers’ wait for their first World Series title since 1988 will go on for another year after Wednesday’s 5-1 defeat to Houston in Game Seven brought a deflating end to what had been an exhilarating season.
The Dodgers had powered through the regular season and the playoffs with a dominance that suggested the championship was theirs for the taking but were ultimately undone by the free-swinging Astros and, perhaps, the pressure of playing for the biggest prize in baseball.
“It’s a tough one, we just didn’t get it done,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters.
“To get to this point you still have to play well in the regular season. We went a little further than we did last year and I expect us to be in this same position next year.”
Ace Clayton Kershaw looked to have saved his postseason reputation when he opened the championship series with an 11-strikeout outing that guided the Dodgers to the win. That game also featured what some saw as an omen as Justin Turner’s dramatic go-ahead home run brought to mind Kirk Gibson’s blast in Game One of the 1988 World Series.
In retrospect, the Dodgers’ entire campaign had been full of promising signs.
The unpredictable Yasiel Puig, the Cuban outfielder who was sent down to the minor leagues a year ago, settled into one of the steadiest seasons of his career while 22-year-old rookie Cody Bellinger exploded onto the scene with 39 home runs.
The Dodgers front office played their part with aggressive acquisitions to strengthen their chances, bringing in Japanese starter Yu Darvish via a mid-season trade.
The Dodgers raced to 90 wins in 126 games and set a record with 104 victories, the most since the team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958.
But just when LA fans were thinking the stars were aligned in the Dodgers’ favor, the sky fell in.
Turner recorded just two more hits in the entire series while Kershaw suffered a poor outing in the team’s Game Five defeat and the Dodgers failed to win Wednesday’s decider at their home stadium.
Darvish, who shouldered the loss on the mound, will be a free agent this off-season and was asked where he would like to be next year.
“I want to come back to the World Series and pitch better,” he said.
Editing by Peter Rutherford