Astros 5, Dodgers 3: Yu Darvish digs early hole offense can’t overcome

(Via)

After getting behind early, the Dodgers couldn’t claw their way back as the Astros took Game 3 of the World Series by a 5-3 score. Houston takes a 2-1 series lead with the win.

Things got started quickly for Houston. George Springer doubled to lead off the bottom of the first, but Darvish was able to get out of trouble by retiring Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. He threw 18 pitches, so it isn’t like he struggled that much … but then came the second inning.

Yuli Gurriel (more on him here) led off with a home run on a fastball that ran too far up and in. It completely missed the target and the Astros had a 1-0 lead. Then, Josh Reddick doubled on a line drive down the third base line. That was followed by a walk to Evan Gattis. Still with no outs, Darvish wasn’t fooling anyone, including Marwin Gonzalez. He hit a fly ball to left-center field that hit before Chris Taylor could get there (and he might not have caught it anyway) for a run-scoring double. After battling against Brian McCann, McCann won by hooking an outside pitch to shallow right-center field for an RBI single. It was about the only way a single would score Gattis. That turned the lineup over for Springer, who lined out hard to second base for the first out. Bregman lined a ball to center that resulted in a sacrifice fly to put the Astros up 4-0. If Taylor makes a throw that’s anywhere near the plate, they probably throw Gonzalez out at home. Alas, he did not. After an Altuve double off the left-center field wall that didn’t score a run (thanks to McCann being at first base), that was the end of the line for Darvish.

Darvish’s final line: 1 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 R/ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 49 pitches, 31 strikes. It was the shortest outing of his career after not only throwing incredible well in his last five starts, his first two postseason starts and having great career numbers in Minute Maid Park. Kenta Maeda relieved him and he thankfully got out of the mess.

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The Dodgers, as they have all season, attempted to mount a comeback. They loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the third on walks by Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez and Taylor. Then, Corey Seager was a bit overanxious on a 1-1 pitch and hit a grounder to first base that the Astros converted into a 3-6-1 double play. The Dodgers cut the deficit to 4-1, but couldn’t cash in anymore that inning.

A healthy Seager might beat out the return throw from Correa. We’ll never know.

Maeda came in and held the Astros to just the four runs they got off Darvish. His line: 2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. He threw 42 pitches, so he might not be available — at the earliest — is Game 5, and more likely Game 6. Tony Watson relieved him and got the racist to ground out to shortstop. An 86 MPH, broken-bat single by Reddick extended the inning. Then, Gattis hit one about 45 feet that Watson fielded and promptly threw down the first base line to give the Astros their fifth run of the game. It was just a poor throw on his part after not immediately recognizing he needed to field the ball. Those are the kinds of things that contribute to postseason losses.

In the sixth inning, Seager drew a leadoff walk and Justin Turner followed it up with a double. With runners at second and third and no outs, Cody Bellinger came to the plate 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Lance McCullers. Unsurprisingly, McCullers disposed of him in three pitches. Bellinger looks lost at the plate right now, and he’d do better by not swinging. After Yasiel Puig scored Seager on a grounder to cut the lead to 5-2, Chase Utley pinch-hit for Logan Forsythe, which I didn’t like one bit. Luckily, Brad Peacock threw a wild pitch and Turner scored from third. Utley would foul out shortly after to end the sixth with the Dodgers down 5-3. That wouldn’t be the last questionable decision Dave Roberts made on the night.

In the seventh inning, Yasmani Grandal pinch-hit for Barnes. Look, I know Barnes has been struggling lately, but I don’t get this one. Now, Grandal is the only catcher left for the remainder of the game and Barnes is out. Grandal flew out to the warning track in left field on the first pitch. Pederson struck out after looking pretty good in his first couple plate appearances. Then, Roberts sends Andre Ethier up to pinch-hit for Hernandez. I’ve got nothing for this one. I really don’t understand why he’s basically emptying his bench in the seventh inning down by two. Ethier would walk, only to have Taylor ground out to first base to end the inning.

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After Brandon Morrow worked out of trouble in the bottom of the sixth, he was allowed to start the seventh against the racist, who has well-known reverse platoon splits. I know Darvish’s short outing put Roberts and the bullpen in a bind, but — just like in Game 2 — he should have started the seventh inning with Cingrani. Naturally, the racist promptly doubled off the wall in left field. That was the end of Morrow’s night. Tony Cingrani came in and got Reddick to pop out on a bunt to Bellinger, who made a diving catch. After an intentional walk to Gattis, Cingrani got Gonzalez to pop out to Utley for the second out. Bellinger made a diving attempt on a McCann grounder, but he couldn’t corral it. That loaded the bases for Springer. Ross Stripling was called in to try to keep the game at 5-3. Then this happened.

I’m still not sure how that ball didn’t go over the fence. Instead of it being 9-3 and game over, the score was still just 5-3 Astros.

With Peacock still on the mound in the middle of his third inning of work, Seager, Turner and Bellinger came to the plate. Good news, right? WRONG. Seager struck out, Turner fouled out to McCann and Bellinger capped an 0-for-4 night with his fourth strikeout of the game.

Any time you’re mentioned with Mickey Mantle, it’s a good thing … right?

Stripling retired the Astros almost in order in the bottom of the eighth to keep the score at 5-3. Peacock began the ninth inning at 36 pitches, but he’s normally a starting pitcher, so the workload wasn’t that arduous heading into the inning. Facing Puig, Utley and Grandal, he shut the Dodgers down without incident to secure the win for Houston.

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A crucial Game 4 is tomorrow. Alex Wood gets the ball for the Dodgers, while Charlie Morton gets the call for the Astros. First pitch is scheduled for 5:20 p.m. Pacific time. It’s basically a must-win for LA.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.