LOS ANGELES -- A few hours before the Astros and Dodgers were set to take the field for Game 7 of the World Series, Houston manager A.J. Hinch was asked what he expected from his starter, Lance McCullers Jr.
Houston went on to win, 5-1, to clinch its first World Series title.
"I don't think you can put it into words what it means to the people of Houston," McCullers said. "We wear that [Houston Strong] patch, and we wore it proudly. The people in Houston are never far from our minds. We know they're at Minute Maid [Park] watching, they're going crazy for us. … They deserve this as much as we do, man, and we're going to party hard."
McCullers -- who notched an RBI groundout in the second -- couldn't even get through nine outs, let alone nine innings, but he held up the scoreless part of Hinch's prediction, tossing 2 1/3 innings before being pulled with a 5-0 lead.
"Yeah, no runs came across," McCullers said. "Man, I came into this game. I knew [Tuesday] I didn't have much. I knew I didn't have much to give other than just trying to gut it out as long as I could. The team knew I was on a short leash, but everyone was ready to go in the bullpen today. You saw all of our best guys come out of there, I gutted it out as long as I could. This is crazy."
The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out three, though he hit four Dodgers with pitches, becoming the first pitcher in postseason history to do so in a game.
"Everyone was ready to go," McCullers said. "Brad came in, kept those runs off the board that I left on the bases, you know, pitched well. Liriano came in, got a huge out of Bellinger. Devo came in, did a great job with Puig, and then Morton took it the rest of the way. Hats off to the Dodgers, man. They're an unbelievable team, they're well-coached. They got a bunch of guys on that team who know how to win who just love these types of moments. But we came out on top."
With McCullers lasting only 2 1/3 innings and L.A starter Yu Darvish recording only five outs, it marked the first winner-take-all game in which neither starter lasted eight outs. It hadn't happened at all in the World Series since Game 2 of the 2002 Fall Classic between the Angels and Giants.
McCullers had pitched well for much of the postseason, beating the Yankees with six innings of one-run ball in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series before closing Game 7 with a four-inning save in which he allowed only one hit.
McCullers gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings in a Game 3 win in the World Series, joining Clayton Kershaw as the only starters to record a victory in this seven-game series.
Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.