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World Series notes: With a tip and a nod, the Gurriel-Darvish exchange is over

World Series notes: With a tip and a nod, the Gurriel-Darvish exchange is over
Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel tips his helmet toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish before getting into the batter's box during the first inning of Game 7. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Yuli Gurriel, before his first at-bat Wednesday in Houston’s 5-1 World Series Game 7 win over the Dodgers, acknowledged pitcher Yu Darvish with a tip of his cap. Darvish responded by stepping to the front of the mound and nodding.

In baseball language: case closed. At least for now.

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Gurriel made a racist gesture and insensitive remark about Darvish, who is of Japanese and Iranian descent, after homering off him early in Game 3 at Houston.

The Astros first baseman, who is Cuban, was punished by Major League Baseball with a five-game suspension he will serve at the start of next season. He also got an earful of boos and jeers during games at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Darvish lasted only only 12/3 innings, taking the loss after giving up five runs, four earned, on three hits. He said the exchange with Gurriel did not distract him.

"I thought I really couldn't hit him with a pitch in his first at-bat," Darvish said. "So I really made a concerted effort to not hit him. Besides that, I was able to fully concentrate."

Decisions to make

The Dodgers' front office will barely have a chance to exhale.

Offseason work awaits.

Free agency starts Thursday, when players with six years in the major leagues and without a contract beyond this season automatically become free agents. The Dodgers’ World Series roster includes four such players: pitchers Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson and infielder Chase Utley.

The Dodgers are expected to decline their option on the contract of outfielder Andre Ethier, making him a free agent. The Dodgers also have to determine whether to exercise their option on the contract of infielder Logan Forsythe.

Poo poo this

In the wake of Tuesday’s win in Game 6, Tommy Lasorda embraced Dodgers manager Dave Roberts outside the media interview room and offered these words of wisdom:

"You haven't won … unless you win tomorrow."

Asked for his reaction before Wednesday's game, Roberts said: "I've heard it all year, and I think that it's great. It's Tommy's words of encouragement."

Lasorda, 90, was still at it after the game. Hunkered low and wearing a blue sweater over white long sleeves while riding in a scooter outside the press box just after the last out, Lasorda heard a fan trying to lift his spirits.

"Tommy, it'll be OK, buddy," the man said.

Lasorda's reply, an age-old adage: "Wait till next year!" Next year, it will be 30 years since Lasorda guided the Dodgers to their last World Series title.

Home heartache

The Dodgers had the best home record in the major leagues this season, but the Astros beat them twice in four World Series games at Dodger Stadium.

Home-field advantage for the World Series used to alternate between the National and American leagues. Then it was decided by the winner of the All-Star Game. This was the first year the team with the best regular-season record earned the reward.

The Dodgers' 104 wins during the regular season was the most in baseball. Houston's 101 was third, one game behind Cleveland.

Before Game 7, Hinch was asked if he thought it made a difference in this Series. "It feels like it," he said. "I sort of like it when the 48,000 people are yelling for us."

Before Wednesday, the Dodgers had won 10 of their last 12 World Series games at Dodger Stadium and were 11-2 this season at home against AL teams.

A pioneer

Wednesday's game was historic in that it was the first World Series Game 7 to be played at Dodger Stadium. Alanna Rizzo, a reporter with the Dodgers' SportsNet LA broadcast team, decided it was something a woman who made her own kind of baseball history needed to see live.

Hours before the game, Rizzo gave up her season at the outside media tables to Claire Smith, a recent inductee into the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Smith, a pioneering female sportswriter, had been working from crowded rooms such as the makeshift media center in the Dodger Stadium dining hall and watching the games on a television monitor.

Smith, a news editor for ESPN, began to tear up as Rizzo escorted her to her new spot.

"Please!" Rizzo told journalists who witnessed her act of kindness. "She's in the Hall of Fame. She should be in the press box."

In the 1980s, Smith became baseball’s first female beat writer, covering the New York Yankees for the Hartford Courant. It wasn’t easy. After the first game of the 1984 National League Championship Series, Smith was physically removed from the San Diego Padres’ clubhouse even though league rules said all accredited journalists should have equal access to the locker room.

The next day, then-Commissioner Peter Ueberroth strengthened the rule, insisting all credentialed media have equal clubhouse access regardless of gender.

Smith later became a columnist for the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Short hops

The Dodgers made a record 32 pitching changes in the Series.... Brandon Morrow struck out Alex Bregman, the only batter he faced in Game 7, on three pitches. Morrow became only the second pitcher to appear in all seven World Series games, joining Darold Knowles, who did it for the champion Oakland Athletics in 1973. Morrow made 14 postseason appearances this year, tying a record established by Paul Assenmaucher of the 1997 Cleveland Indians.… Making his Dodgers-record 51st appearance in a postseason game, Ethier had a run-scoring pinch-hit single in the sixth inning.… Cody Bellinger struck out a record 17 times in 28 World Series at-bats, and a record 29 times during the playoffs in 64 at-bats. The previous playoff strikeout record was held by New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who fanned 27 times in 48 at-bats this year. Bellinger, in the NL, and Judge, in the AL, each set league rookie regular-season home-run records and are expected to be rookies of the year.

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