Posted on October 27, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Game 2 of the 2017 World Series was the definition of an instant classic. It included extra innings, eight home runs by eight different players, and multiple comebacks. What more could you ask for? More importantly, it changed the entire shape of the series. The Dodgers looked poised to win another pitchers duel and take a 2-0 lead. But the Astros managed to turn the tables and find a way to win the game and tie the series as it heads to Houston for the next three games. The pressure is now on the Dodgers to win at least one of the next three to force the series back to Los Angeles.
It took more than 15 innings, but the Astros finally managed to turn the World Series into a slugfest, something that plays into their favor. Remember, Houston scored the most runs in baseball during the regular season, so they’re happy to get involved in a track meet, at least until they can get Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander back on the mound.
The Dodgers may have expected a little too much from Kenley Jansen in Game 2, and in the process, awoken Houston’s lineup, at least the first half of it. If Jose Altuve and George Springer can build off of their late-inning home runs in Game 2, the Astros are going to be tough to face the rest of the series.
In hopes of slowing down Houston’s lineup in Game 3, the Dodgers will turn to Yu Darvish, who has been masterful during the playoffs. Darvish has won both of his starts during the playoffs, posting a 1.59 ERA and striking out 14 over 11.1 innings. Those two starts are among the best he’s looked in his career. Darvish has also faced the Astros twice this season when he was still with the Rangers. In a June start in Houston, he allowed one run on one hit over seven innings, so he’s more than capable of stopping the momentum the Astros were building offensively late in Game 2.
The Astros, meanwhile, will turn to Lance McCullers Jr., who has made one start and two relief appearances during the postseason. The last time we saw McCullers, he pitched the final four innings of Game 7 of the ALCS, striking out six and allowing just one hit. He mesmerized the Yankees with his curveball and helped push the Astros into the World Series. Obviously, he’ll need to throw more than curveballs to have success against the Dodgers. But during the playoffs, he’s looked very much like the pitcher he was during the first half of the season when he went 7-2 with a 3.03 ERA.
Springer has to be the biggest X-factor in Game 3. He was dreadful during the ALCS and then took home the Golden Sombrero in Game 1 of the World Series. However, he went 3 for 5 and hit the game-winning home run in Game 2. If he can keep that going while serving as Houston’s leadoff hitter, he can become the most impactful player in the series. He’s also the only player in Houston’s lineup with decent numbers against Darvish. He’s 6 for 18 with two home runs against the Dodgers Game 3 starter. If the Astros are going to win Game 3 and take a series lead, they need Springer to be the catalyst.
The Astros have all the momentum after Game 2 and they’re coming back home, where they are yet to lose during the postseason. As well as Darvish has pitched during the playoffs, McCullers has looked equally excellent his last two times out. If the Astros can find a couple good innings from their bullpen, their bats should come live at some point. Houston wins 6-4.