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World Series Game 3 Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Houston Astros

The World Series is now best-of-five. Crunch time is now.

Now that we’ve had some to decompress after one of the most exciting World Series games in recent memory, business is about to pick up even more.

The Dodgers and Astros split the first two games in Chavez Ravine and the Fall Classic is now a best-of-five. The series now shifts to Houston where the Astros haven’t lost all postseason.

Wednesday’s Game 2 was one of the greatest World Series games ever. Justin Verlander was once again dealing, giving up only two hits—both of which were home runs. Trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, however, the Astros spoiled a six-out save attempt by Kenley Jansen and tied the game on a home run by Marwin Gonzalez.

In extra innings, both teams turned on the power. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa homered back-to-back in the top of the 10th, only to see the lead blown by closer Ken Giles on a Yasiel Puig bomb and a Kike Hernandez single. The Astros got another lead in the 11th on a two-run homer by George Springer, then Charlie Culberson narrowed the gap again with a home run off Chris Devenski before the final out was recorded.

Game 3 starters: Yu Darvish (RHP) vs Lance McCullers, Jr (RHP)

Acquired at the trade deadline to form a tantalizing one-two punch with Clayton Kershaw, Darvish marginally improved on the oddly pedestrian numbers he posted with the Texas Rangers before the trade. Darvish has since been phenomenal in the playoffs. In two starts, he’s struck out 14 batters and walked only one in 11.1 innings, giving up eight hits and two runs. He’s been lights out, and now he’ll go up against a familiar foe from divisional games with the Rangers.

Darvish pitched against the Astros twice for Texas this year. The first saw him take the loss at home, giving up three runs in five innings. Ten days later, he faced them at Minute Maid Park and fared far better, throwing seven innings and allowing only one run on a hit and three walks.

McCullers returns to the starting rotation for the Astros after shutting down the Yankees for the final four innings in Game 7 of the ALCS, earning an old-fashioned save. He didn’t make the rotation against Boston in the Division Series but pitched in relief in Game 3, going three innings and giving up two runs on three hits. He started Game 4 of the ALCS, shutting the Yankees down until a leadoff homer by Aaron Judge in the bottom of the 7th chased him from the game.

Projected Lineups

Dodgers LineupHRAVGOBP
Chris Taylor, CF3.263.417
Corey Seager, SS1.316.435
Justin Turner, 3B4.325.426
Cody Bellinger, 1B2.233.267
Yasiel Puig, RF2.351.442
Logan Forsythe, 2B0.286.464
Austin Barnes, C1.233.324
Joc Pederson, LF1.250.250
Kike Hernandez, DH3.412.500

Astros LineupHRAVGOBP
George Springer, CF2.250.339
Alex Bregman, 3B3.212.255
Jose Altuve, 2B6.360.448
Carlos Correa, SS4.302.339
Yuli Gurriel, 1B0.333.385
Josh Reddick, RF0.188.250
Evan Gattis, DH1.286.385
Marwin Gonzalez, LF1.163.265
Brian McCann, C0.125.222

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Yasiel Puig has had one heck of a career path. Until this year he looked like the prototypical story of the flash in the pan that burns for a season or two then winks out. But this year he quietly turned things around, turning into a solid contributor with a .263/.346/.487 slash line, 28 home runs and 74 RBI. In the postseason he’s been on a tear, hitting .351 with two homers and seven runs batted in, including a solo shot in the 10th inning in Game 2. Justin Turner is another man who has been white-hot this postseason. His homer was the difference in Game 1 and he’s driven in 14 runs in the playoffs.

One bat that the Dodgers will need to pick up if they want to take on the righthanded pitchers they will see tonight and tomorrow is Chase Utley. Utley knows his way around the World Series from his time with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he pounded out seven home runs in 11 games between the 2008 and 2009 Fall Classic with them. But he’s 0 for 12 this postseason, and the Dodgers will need his left-handed bat to take on McCullers and presumptive Game 4 starter Charlie Morton.

Jose Altuve has easily been the best hitter in this postseason. He blasted three home runs in the first game of the ALDS against Boston and has continued mashing the ball, leading the playoffs with six home runs. He’s gotten a hit in each of the Series’ first two games, including a 10th-inning home run that temporarily put the Astros in the lead in Game 2. His double play partner Carlos Correa hit another one batter later and is tied for second in home runs over the entire postseason with four.

Josh Reddick’s struggles in the playoffs have been well-documented. He nearly went 0-for the ALCS, getting his first hit in Game 7. Hitting only .188 over 13 games, the outfielder has been dropped in the lineup and needs to find his swing. The same goes for Brian McCann, whose quiet postseason has been covered up by his team’s success. He’s had two clutch hits but needs to be more consistent.

Prediction: Astros 4, Dodgers 2

Darvish has been incredible this postseason, but the Astros offense is a different thing when it gets home. The city is yearning for both a first World Series title and Minute Maid Park will be raucous. It also seems like the Astros hitters pick up the ball out of the pitcher’s hand better at home, especially Altuve.

Darvish will pitch well but home field and the curve ball of Lance McCullers will be the difference, and Ken Giles will hold the lead this time.

Where to watch

First pitch is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on local FOX stations.

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Sam Lopresti

Baseball fanatic and die-hard Phillies Phan since age 5.  Sportswriter since 2012 at outlets like Bleacher Report.  To see my columns and game reports about Juventus FC, check out Black and White and Read All Over on SB Nation.

World Series Game 3 Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Houston Astros

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