If Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was nervous with his team facing elimination after dropping a crazy Game 5 of the World Series, he didn’t show it. Quite the opposite, in fact. Puig seemed so confident in the idea of a Dodgers comeback that he guaranteed the team would defeat the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the World Series and force a Game 7.
Puig didn’t shy away from reporters moments after Alex Bregman’s walk-off single gave the Astros a 13-12 win, and a 3-2 lead in the World Series. Instead, he looked at them and said, “My team is not going to be finished on Tuesday. There’s going to be Game 7.”
Oh, and just in case you thought maybe you misread that, Puig doubled-down on his guarantee.
“I want to say thank you to the fans, support my teammates Tuesday and this is not going to be finished in Game 6,” Puig added.
Did you really expect anything less? If anyone was going to find a way to make this incredible series even more dramatic, it was always going to be Puig, right? The player with perhaps more confidence and swagger than anyone else in Major League Baseball. With his team backed into a corner on baseball’s biggest stage, you didn’t expect him to back down, did you?
After his final at-bat Sunday night, it might as well be Puig who sends that message. The 26-year-old played a key part in the team’s ninth-inning comeback, belting a two-run homer off Chris Devenski to bring his team within one run. Three batters later, Chris Taylor singled in the tying run, which would eventually push the Astros into extras.
It hasn’t been an easy go for Puig in the World Series. Even after his big home run Sunday he’s hitting just .143 against the Astros. It’s a far cry from his performance against the Chicago Cubs, when he hit .389 to push the Dodgers to their first World Series in 29 seasons. Or even in the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, when he hit .455 in the three-game sweep.
But maybe that’s the point. As Puig showed Sunday, all it takes is one at-bat to turn things around. For an inning and a half, Puig looked like one of the heroes. He was part of the incredible comeback that momentarily saved the Dodgers. His production prior to that at-bat didn’t matter anymore.
That’s the approach that Puig and the Dodgers need to take in Game 6. The season is on the line, and Justin Verlander — the guy who has utterly destroyed opposing teams over the last three months — is on the mound.
But what Verlander did in the regular season and against the New York Yankees and even against these Dodgers in Game 2 is the past. The Dodgers are only looking toward the future now.
That future includes a game on Tuesday and another on Wednesday, according to Puig.
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