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HOUSTON — There was Brandon Morrow, ready to stand in the middle of a firing squad one more time, ready to own it, ready to admit he was “selfish” in Game 5 of the World Series and it might have cost his team a win.
A couple hours earlier, the firing squad was the top of the Houston Astros order, which in six pitches from Morrow turned an 8-7 deficit into an 11-8 lead. Now, the firing squad was the media, hitting him with question after question.
Did you feel different? Was the velocity there? How — after a great regular season and a successful postseason — did this happen?
“I was confident in my ability,” said Morrow, the 33-year-old reliever who has revived his career this season in Dodger blue. He wasn’t supposed to be available in Game 5. He volunteered. And wanting to help his game contributed to L.A.’s 13-12 loss.
“It was probably selfish of me,” Morrow said, “to make that call and try to push to get in.”
In five minutes of talking with reporters, he called himself “selfish” no fewer than three times.
“Probably a selfish move on my part … ” he said at one point
“It was a little bit selfish … ” he said at another.
Before the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Morrow was unavailable to pitch. He’d faced the Astros in every game of this series, including 1 ⅓ scoreless innings in Game 4. It was Morrow’s night to rest. That was the plan.
Then the Dodgers blew a 4-0 lead. Then ace Clayton Kershaw was knocked out of the game in the fifth. Then the Dodgers had used three pitchers by the sixth. And then the Dodgers went ahead 8-7 in the seventh.
That’s when Morrow made the call. He told Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt he could go again. Five games in a row. It’s the World Series, right?
“Everybody’s trying to step up,” Morrow said.
“He called down,” Roberts said, “and said that he felt good. He was throwing today, he felt good. And he called in the middle of the game, and he said, hey, if we take the lead, I want the ball, my body feels good. So in the seventh inning, you can’t turn him down … It’s a credit to him to be used like he has been and want the baseball.”
Morrow had a 2.06 ERA in the regular season. He never gave a single homer. Heck, he only gave up 10 runs all season in 43 ⅔ innings. So what a time this was to crash and burn. It was short, bitter and brutal. Unless you were an Astros hitter.
The first pitch Morrow threw? George Springer turned it into a solo homer to start the seventh. Tie game. The next pitch? An Alex Bregman single. In retrospect, maybe that should have been the end. Morrow got a called strike on Jose Altuve before he doubled. Then came Carlos Correa, who took a slider for a ball and then hit a sinker into the left-field seats.
Six pitches, four runs, two homers, one guilty conscience.
“They weren’t terrible pitches,” Morrow said. “But they weren’t great.”
“We had a plan,” Morrow continued. “And we’re very plan-oriented and try to stick to that. I made them deviate away.”
There was Brandon Morrow, all right. Just wearing every bit of it. He could have made an excuse. He could have said he was overworked. He could have blamed the slick balls. He could have said anything else, really.
But he owned it.
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