World Series Game 4 Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Houston Astros

That Astros will look to take a commanding Series lead at home.

Home cooking continued to be good for the Houston Astros on Friday.

The American League champions rode a four-run second inning to win Game 3 of the World Series by a 5-3 score. Dodgers starter Yu Darvish picked the wrong time to have the worst start of his career, failing to get more than five outs and, for the first time in his career, leaving a game without recording a strikeout.

Yuli Gurriel kicked things off with a no-doubt home run to left. Marwin Gonzalez and Brian McCann each singled in a run before Alex Bregman’s sac fly to center capped off the inning and chased Darvish from the game.

Lance McCullers, Jr pitched into the sixth, but stepped around a couple of jams, giving up four hits and four walks and being charged with three runs. Brad Peacock relieved him, and though he allowed a pair of inherited runners to score, he didn’t allow a hit in 3.1 innings, striking out four and earning the second old-fashioned save we’ve seen an Astros pitcher notch this season.

Game 4 Starters: Alex Wood (LHP) vs Charlie Morton (RHP)

The Dodgers didn’t need Alex Wood until Game 4 of the NLCS. He may have been too rested, as the Cubs teed off on him for three home runs in his 4.2 innings, keeping the series alive and handing the Dodgers their first loss of the postseason.

Wood did strike out seven in that outing, so when the ball was coming out of his hand right it was very right. The question will be whether he can keep the league’s best offense from barrelling him up, especially given the fact that Houston’s best hitters are right-handed. He’s under even more pressure to turn in a big outing after Darvish’s debacle last night. Dave Roberts won’t be able to afford to go to his bullpen very early in this one.

For the Astros, Charlie Morton has had an up-and-down postseason. He started Game 4 of the ALDS in Boston and was pulled before he could get through the fifth, striking out six but giving up seven hits. He took the ball again in Game 3 of the ALCS and was blasted seven in 3.2. but he stepped up in the deciding Game 7, shutting the Yankees down for five innings while giving up only two hits.

Projected lineups

Dodgers LineupHRAVGOBP
Chris Taylor, CF3.244.404
Corey Seager, SS1.273.407
Justin Turner, 3B4.318.412
Yasiel Puig, RF2.341.426
Cody Bellinger, 1B2.213.245
Joc Pederson, DH1.300.364
Logan Forsythe, 2B0.304.467
Austin Barnes, C1.219.306
Kike Hernandez, LF3.389.500

Astros LineupHRAVGOBP
George Springer, CF2.246.328
Alex Bregman, 3B3.200.250
Jose Altuve, 2B6.345.429
Carlos Correa, SS4.293.328
Yuli Gurriel, 1B1.340.386
Josh Reddick, RF0.212.268
Evan Gattis, DH1.318.467
Marwin Gonzalez, LF1.170.264
Brian McCann0.182.265

Who’s hot, who’s not

The Dodgers are going to need something—anything—from Cody Bellinger. The first baseman set the NL record for home runs by a rookie this season, but he’s 0-11 with seven strikeouts in the World Series. If he continues to be a hole in the lineup, the Dodgers ability to produce runs will be in question.

That’s especially the case given how well Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner have been playing in the postseason. The two have combined to drive in 22 runs in the playoffs, but they can only pick up so much of Bellinger’s slack. This is the game for the rookie to get it going; Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander loom ahead.

That big second inning last night saw two players that had been struggling this postseason—Gonzalez and McCann—drive home runs. Gonzalez has come up clutch in each of the last two games, tying Game 2 with a home run of Kenley Jansen and helping break the game open with his long single last night. McCann has been quiet this fall, but he is capable of ripping one at any time.

If he does, he’ll augment Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, each of whom cranked out hits again last night. With the two of them clicking on all cylinders, anyone else heating up could spell doom for Wood and the Dodgers’ pitching staff.

Prediction: Astros 7, Dodgers 3

Wood is no slouch, but the Astros’ bats are starting to roll and it’s worth wondering if there’s still rust left after his long layoff between the season and the NLCS. The Houston crowd will be a factor again; they were crazy loud last night, and the roof will again be closed.

The Astros will take a commanding lead in the series and look to close it at home with Keuchel tomorrow night.

Where to watch

First pitch is again scheduled for 8:20 PM EDT. Coverage will begin at 8 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.  Assistant editor at Black and White and Read All Over, the Juventus community of SB Nation.