LOS ANGELES — In one of the most evenly matched, hard-fought and thrilling World Series of all time, it’s fitting that fans were treated to a winner-take-all Game 7.
In the end, it’s Houston that gets to celebrate.
The Astros — whose first season was in 1962 — are World Series champions for the first time in franchise history, defeating the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 7 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and completing a Fall Classic for the ages.
“You know what, Houston?” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “You’re a championship city.”
Houston hit Dodgers starter Yu Darvish hard for the second time this series, leading again to an early exit after 1 2/3 innings — tying Game 3 as the shortest outing of his career.
The damage in Game 7 included a two-run home run by outfielder George Springer to make it 5-0 in the second inning.
It was Springer’s fifth home run this series, tying him for the most in a single Fall Classic with Reggie Jackson in 1977 and Chase Utley in 2009.
He also became the first player to homer in four consecutive games in the same World Series.
Springer, unanimously voted the Willie Mays World Series MVP, referenced the inspiration of the Astros’ fan base that is recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
“That patch on our chest truly does mean a lot to us,” Springer said. “I’m so happy for all of our fans, who have endured a lot. We’re coming home champions.”
Perhaps it was destiny. In 2014, Sports Illustrated released a story with Springer on the cover of the magazine, predicting the Astros would be 2017 World Series champs.
Springer hit .379 (11-for-29) in the Fall Classic with three doubles, five home runs, seven RBI and eight runs.
He had a record eight extra-base hits during this Fall Classic, surpassing Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, who had seven extra-base hits during the 1979 World Series.
The Astros’ on-field celebration also included a marriage proposal.
“You make the happiest man in the world,” shortstop Carlos Correa said to his girlfriend. “Will you marry me?”
She said yes.
It was the first Fall Classic since 1970 between two teams with at least 100 wins during the regular season, as Los Angeles won 104 games and Houston won 101.
The seven games were full of power — Houston and Los Angeles set the record for most home runs in a single World Series — and dramatic comebacks.
Game 5 was the craziest of all, ending with a 13-12 Astros win in the 10th inning.
The Astros ended the third-longest current MLB championship drought; the Cleveland Indians (69 years) and the Texas Rangers (57 years) continue to wait.
The Dodgers last won the Fall Classic in 1988 and were aiming for a seventh championship.