Saturday, October 28, 2017

Help Wanted: For Winning Road Game in Houston...

Credit:  AP - Matt Slocum

2017 World Series
Astros 5, Dodgers 3...
Astros lead the Series, 2 games to 1

Well, that didn't go so well...  

The Dodgers have realized what the Yankees already knew...it's hard to score runs against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.  It didn't help when Yu Darvish failed to make it out of the second inning (the shortest start in his career) as the Astros used their bats to send Darvish to an early shower.  Credit their gloves too for some phenomenal plays to prevent potential Dodger uprisings.

Before I get into the game, I want to say that Yuli Gurriel sucks.  His racially offensive gesture toward Darvish was unacceptable, regardless of the reasons or intent.  Darvish was forgiving, but I think Gurriel should be punished.  After the game, Darvish said, "I saw it but, for me, it personally doesn't bother me.  But I am sure the Astros have Asian fans and there are a lot of Asian people all over the world and to those people, from a humanistic perspective and as a baseball organization, I thought the Astros image might suffer as a result."  MLB Commissioner is expected to meet with Gurriel today and hopefully MLB takes proper action for Gurriel's unacceptable behavior.  Gurriel apologized but of course that's just saying he is sorry for getting caught.  I doubt Gurriel loses any playing time in the World Series, but as Darvish added, "As citizens of the world, if we can learn from this and take a step forward, I think this can be a good thing."

As for the game, Darvish, unfortunately, looked as uncomfortable as Luis Severino did in the AL Wild Card Game against the Minnesota Twins.  The Astros made some early noise in the bottom of the first inning.  George Springer led off for the Astros with a double to the right center field wall.  He advanced as far as third before Darvish got out of the inning, but it already felt like the Dodgers were on the ropes.


Credit:  AP - David J Phillip
There was no doubt about it in the bottom of the 2nd.  Yuli Gurriel led off with a home run to left.  As Joe Buck of FOX said, "That is smoked!".  He was followed by Josh Reddick, who doubled down the line in left. Darvish lost Evan Gattis on a full count and walked him. It brought Dodgers manager Dave Roberts out to the mound for a "staff meeting" but it didn't help. Marwin Gonzalez hit a ball to deep left center off the wall for a single, with Reddick racing around to score.  Gattis moved to second. Brian McCann's single to right center scored Gattis while Gonzalez took third.  After George Springer lined out to second for the first out, Alex Bregman lofted a fly to center to score Gonzalez on the sacrifice.  The Astros were up, 4-0.  Jose Altuve doubled to left center, also off the wall, with the slow-footed McCann moving to third. Roberts had seen enough and mercifully pulled Darvish.  Kenta Maeda entered the game and retired Carlos Correa on a fly out to right to end the inning.

The Dodgers were able to pick up a run against Astros starter Lance McCullers, Jr in the top of the 3rd inning.  Thanks to three successive walks, the Dodgers had the bases loaded and no outs for Corey Seager.  Sadly, Seager hit a grounder to first that the Astros turned for a double play (Gurriel throw to second and back to McCullers covering first for the out).  But the runner on third, Joc Pederson, scored on the play with the runner on second, Kike Hernandez, moving to third.  Justin Turner grounded out to short to end the inning.  The Dodgers may have scored a run but it was a huge missed opportunity.  The inning looked more like the team that was 1-16 at one point in the season and not the one that was 52-9 over an earlier stretch.


Credit:  AP - David J Phillip
Credit Maeda for keeping the Dodgers in the game.  I thought he did a wonderful job in relief of Darvish.  He held the Astros scoreless for 2 2/3 innings and retired the only batter he faced in the top of the 5th.  


Credit:  AP - Matt Slocum
The Dodgers made a pitching change to bring in former Pirates closer Tony Watson.  Watson got Yuli Gurriel to ground out to short for the second out, but then Josh Reddick singled up the middle to center field.  Evan Gattis hit a pitch back to Watson on the left side but Watson's throwing error, a ball in the dirt that sailed past first baseman Cody Bellinger, allowed Reddick to score his second run of the game while Gattis took second.  Watson was able to strike out Marwin Gonzalez but the Astros had increased their lead to 5-1.


Credit:  AP - David J Phillip
The Dodgers had something going against McCullers in the top of the 6th.  Corey Seager led off with a walk and he moved to third when Justin Turner doubled to the left field corner.  McCullers struck out Cody Bellinger, but it was the end of his day.  Astros manager A.J. Hinch brought in Brad Peacock to face Yasiel Puig.  Puig grounded out, a chopper to second, but Seager scored with Turner moving to third on the play.  With former Phillies great Chase Utley batting (pinch-hitting for Logan Forsythe), a wild pitch from Peacock that hit the dirt and went through Brian McCann's legs allowed Turner to come home for the Dodgers' third run.  Utley fouled out in foul territory beyond third base (nice running catch by Alex Bregman), but the Dodgers had made it a two-run game.


Credit:  Houston Chronicle - Karen Warren
The Astros rode Peacock's arm to the finish line.  While the Astros came close to busting the floodgates open in the bottom of the 7th when they loaded the bases with two outs, the Dodgers could not mount any offensive challenges against Peacock.  Peacock held the Dodgers hitless after he took over for McCullers and finished with four strikeouts to save the victory for McCullers.


Credit:  AP - Matt Slocum
After the game, Cody Bellinger said they had their chances and if they had played Dodger baseball, they would have won the game.  I agree.  Hopefully they'll find the magic that helped them win 104 games this season.  


Credit:  MLB Photos via Getty Images - LG Patterson
For Game 4 today, the Dodgers will hand the ball to Alex Wood.  Wood finished the regular season with a 16-3 record and 2.72 ERA.  For most of the season, he was clearly the Dodgers' second best starting pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw.  The Astros will counter with Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA).  Morton, as we know, stifled the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS.  It should be a good game regardless of the outcome.  

Editor's Note:  This writer is pro-Dodgers.

Odds & Ends...

Barry Jackson, sportswriter for the Miami Herald, reported this week that they do not expect a large migration of Yankees employees to the Miami Marlins.  Jackson indicated that according to a Marlins source, the Marlins will not take any further Yankees employees without specifically negotiating with Yankees GM Brian Cashman to acquire them.  The Yankees have already lost former VP of Player Development Gary Denbo to Derek Jeter and the Marlins.  The name probably won't mean much to most of us but Denbo did hire Dan Greenlee, one of his former player development analysts, away from the Yankees according to Joel Sherman, Baseball Columnist for the NY Post and MLB Network Insider.    

As someone who grew up with Yankees managerial changes seemingly occurring every year and often multiple times within a single season, it still seems odd for the Yankees to be searching for only their third manager in 22 years.  While I was surprised the Yankees decided to part ways with Joe Girardi, I am not shocked.  I thought he did a good overall job but I never felt that he was on the same plain as Joe Torre.  I trust Brian Cashman enough to feel confident that he'll make the right choice for Girardi's successor.  The stakes are very high with a young talented team that is World Series-ready and Cashman knows that his legacy will reside in large part with this choice. 



The early favorite for Yankees manager appears to be Rob Thomson, followed closely by Joe Espada and Al Pedrique.  The Yankees emailed permission authorization to all teams yesterday to grant them access to the Yankees coaches.  This action leads me to believe that Girardi's replacement will not come from the coaching staff.  One writer said that among the many names cited as potential candidates, it's very likely that we have yet to see the name of  the next Yankees manager.  I have no idea who I want or prefer at this point.  

Have a great Saturday!  I wish the Dodgers would just hurry up and finish the World Series (I know, the Astros appear to have the final say) so that we can get on to important matters like all things Pinstriped.  Go Yankees!

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