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The Alternate Histories of The Craziest World Series Game Ever

Game two of the Dodgers-Astros World Series was everything you could possibly want in a sporting event—thanks, in part, to a series of improbable plays and freak incidents.

Eric Nusbaum

Eric Nusbaum

At some point in the bottom of the tenth inning of last night's Dodgers-Astros World Series game, I was transported to a higher dimension of baseball fandom. I was sitting (standing, really) on the Reserve Level of Dodger Stadium, but I was no longer on this earth.

It was still hot in the ballpark, the temperature had been up over 100 degrees that afternoon, and the air tasted like smoke from two separate fires burning within sniffing distance of the stadium. Moments earlier, back-to-back home runs by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa turned the city silent.

Then came the Yasiel Puig home run, bat laid gently down as if in anticipation of the greater action to come, the excruciating Logan Forsythe walk, the wild pitch, and the Kiké Hernandez single. Forsythe scrambled home just ahead of a perfect throw by former Dodger Josh Reddick. The world burst open.

And suddenly, I could see everything: all of the versions of Game 2 that didn't come to fruition, alongside the ones that did. Every baseball game, every sporting event, every life really, is determined by a bunch of random stuff happening in a random order. A World Series game is just as likely to end up being a boring 10-4 blowout as it is a historic see-saw affair with a million home runs in the last few innings.

This particular World Series game will be remembered for those few innings. For the madness of it. All these very weird and very wonderful and very anguishing plays that had to happen to set up the 7-6 final score we got. In that moment after Forsythe scored, all I could think about was all those tiny moments that led us here—and all the different Game Twos we could have wound up with had they gone differently.

Top 3

What Happened

Josh Reddick hits a sharp groundball into the hole between first and second base. Chase Utley knocks it down but is not able to make the play. Justin Verlander bunts Reddick over to second George Springer singles. Alex Bregman hits a weird single (more on that in a moment) scoring Reddick, and suddenly the game is 1-0.

Rich Hill eventually pitches out of the jam by striking out Altuve and Correa.

What Could Have Happened:

Josh Reddick is thrown out at first base by Chase Utley. Justin Verlander (source of one of last night's more comical at bats) strikes out with nobody on. The Springer and Bregman singles are ultimately harmless. The score remains 0-0, Rich Hill's pitch count is a tiny bit lower, and the Houston lineup doesn't turn over quite as quickly, leading Roberts to leave Hill in the game to start and possibly finish the fifth inning, thus saving his bullpen just a little longer.

What Happened:

Alex Bregman hits a shot into left center field. Dodgers CF Chris Taylor makes a diving stab at it, but comes up short. However, he is saved when the ball caroms off the brim of his hat and in the direction of Joc Pederson. Bregman is stranded at first and Springer is stranded at second. Altuve and Correa strike out.

What Could Have Happened:

The ball gets past Taylor, Bregman goes for extra bases, and the Astros take a 2-0 lead. Rich Hill is suddenly in a much deeper hole facing Altuve and Correa. Everything falls apart for the Dodgers. Rich Hill suddenly develops a blister.

Bottom 5

What Happened:

Joc Pederson hits a home run that squeaks over the fence in right center field to tie the game at 1-1 and break up a Justin Verlander no-hitter.

What Could Have Happened:

On a normal day in Dodger Stadium (read: not 100 degrees outside), the ball dies on the warning track. Verlander continues apace with his no-hit effort. He shaves off Justin Turner's beard with a fastball, then strikes him out to end a historic game.

Top 8

What Happened:

Alex Bregman hits yet another shot, this time down the right field line. Yasiel Puig makes a spectacular diving attempt to catch it, but comes up inches short. The ball caroms off the tip of Puig's glove, off the grass, and into the seats for a ground rule double. Puig chucks his glove down in (pretty unreasonable, considering the effort) frustration.

The play motivates Dave Roberts to yank reliever Brandon Morrow in favor of Kenley Jansen, who allows a seeing-eye single to Carlos Correa bringing the Astros within one run—a run they will get back the next inning on an improbable Marwin Gonzalez homer.

What Could Have Happened:

Puig makes the catch. Kisses a baby in the crowd. Morrow finishes the inning, and Jansen throws a clean ninth as the Dodgers win a second consecutive drama-free 3-1 game.

Top 9

What Happened:

Marwin Gonzalez hits a no-doubter home run against Kenley Jansen to tie the game and send it to extra innings. This may not feel like a marginal or strange play, but it is as weird as anything else that happened Wednesday night. Jansen has allowed about one home run for 14 innings pitched over his career. Gonzalez has been terrible for most of the postseason.

What Could Have Happened:

The normal thing when Jansen is on the mound. A 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 9

What Happened:

With two outs in a tie game, Cody Bellinger, he of 39 regular season home runs, hits a long fly ball that seems like it might be a walk-off home run but dies on the warning track in right center field. The next inning, the Dodgers bring in Josh Fields to relieve Janseon. He gives up back-to-back dingers to Altuve and Correa.

What Could Have Happened:

The ball goes over the fence. The game is over. Altuve and Correa don't come up to bat. Cody Bellinger gets free In N' Out burgers for life.

Bottom 10

What Happened:

After a Puig solo shot brings the Dodgers within one, Hernandez hits a groundball into right field, scoring Logan Forsythe to tie the game despite a spot-on throw from former Dodger Josh Reddick.

What Could Have Happened:

The single is hit a tiny bit harder, Forsythe runs a step slower, or rounds third base a little less efficiently, the infield dirt slips under Forsythe's spike just a smidge, Reddick's throw is somehow just a blip harder. The game ends on a spectacularly clutch hit and an even more spectacular defensive play.

We never have to see Brandon McCarthy pitch his sad eleventh inning. Cameron Maybin doesn't steal second base and give America free Doritos Locos tacos. Charlie Culberson does not hit a stunning but ultimately futile home run in the bottom half of an instant classic.

What Happened:

Hernandez has advanced to second on the throw home by Reddick. With Austin Barnes at the plate and two outs, an errant pickoff throw by Chris Devenski strikes umpire Laz Diaz instead of soaring into the outfield, preventing Hernandez from taking third base.

What Could Have Happened:

Instead of hitting Diaz, the ball goes into the outfield, and Hernandez gets to third or hell, possibly tries to score. Devenski, who has already thrown one wild pitch this inning, now has to deal with staring at a runner on third base from his stretch. Hernandez finally does score in some freakish weird way, and the game ends before George Springer can hit his eleventh inning home run; before Charlie Culberson can hit his.

But we're lucky the game went the way it did. Lucky that Puig didn't make the catch, and lucky that Marwin Gonzalez hit the most miraculous home run of his life. We'll be lucky if we recover from this one before Game Three starts on Friday.