Astros @ Dodgers October 31, 2017: World Series Game 6

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

We’ve had a day to process the disastrous Game 5 loss, one that will no doubt be talked about for years to come. Now the Dodgers will face an elimination game on Halloween, a frightening undertaking indeed. The Boys In Blue will need all hands on deck to defeat the relentless Astros in Game 6 in order to force a Game 7 finale.

Astros
Dodgers
5:20 PM  FOX
Los Angeles
CF
Springer
CF
Taylor
3B
Bregman
SS
Seager
2B
Altuve
3B
Turner
SS
Correa
1B
Bellinger
1B
Gurriel
RF
Puig
C
McCann
LF
Pederson
LF
Gonzalez 2B Forsythe
RF
Reddick
C
Barnes
P
Verlander (R)
P
Hill (L)

With the series back in L.A., tonight’s game is a rematch of Game 2, but with much cooler temperatures, as Rich Hill goes up against Justin Verlander. Like Game 5, the second matchup of the World Series was a heartbreaking one-run loss. Both games had multiple lead changes, Dodger comebacks and numerous home runs. Both were winnable by the Dodgers at many points throughout. Being at the game in person took it to a entirely new level of mental anguish as well.

Hill gave the Dodgers a solid start in Game 2, allowing just one run on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts on 60 pitches. Dave Roberts took him out after four innings before he would have to face the Astros lineup a third time. It was a bit of a controversial move, but the correct call considering the firepower of the right-handers in the Houston lineup and the bullpen’s track record of dominance up to that point.

With the Dodgers on the brink of elimination and a bullpen that has been sent through the ringer, Doc very well may stick with Hill longer in Game 6 depending on his pitch count, effectiveness and whether they’ll need to go to a pinch-hitter at some point. Hill has yet to make more than 80 pitches in a start this postseason, and Roberts does have Alex Wood available out of the bullpen if needed for Game 6 with Yu Darvish lined up to start a potential Game 7. Wood has been very effective out of the bullpen for the Dodgers this year, and he’s coming off a gem of a start in Game 4. The ideal situation would be for Hill to pitch deeper into Game 6, and for the Dodgers to have Wood available for Game 7 considering Darvish’s abbreviated start in Game 3.

Clayton Kershaw, stubborn and determined as ever, feels he’s available for Game 6.

Kenley Jansen won’t be asked to pitch more than an inning, ideally.

Sounds like a decent game plan, but then again everything often goes out the window in an elimination scenario.

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Justin Verlander was perfect through the first three innings of Game 2, and he even took a no-hitter through the fourth with only a walk to Chris Taylor coming in the frame. Joc Pederson, who along with Logan Forsythe, has essentially carried the team offensively so far this series, got to Verlander with a game-tying solo homer after he hung a breaking ball to the Dodger outfielder. Corey Seager added two more runs with a home run in the sixth, and Verlander was removed for a pinch-hitter thereafter.

With both starters out of the game, it was a battle of the bullpens. A fight which the Dodger ultimately lost after burning through eight relievers. Neither Hill nor Verlander were involved in the decision. Obviously Verlander has been one of the best pitchers in the game for many years. Even if the Dodgers pitching holds up, the offense is still going to have to get to Verlander.

A lot of discussion has centered around the faltering pitching of the Dodgers this World Series, and rightfully so. The pitching staffs of both L.A. and Houston have ERAs upwards of 5.00 in the series. The Dodgers’ bullpen has a 5.32 ERA, and the Astros’ bullpen has been even worse with a 7.58 ERA. The difference has been a narrow margin of offense between the two juggernaut teams offensively perhaps aided by a juiced ball and some questionable umpiring.

Although there has been rampant speculation to whether the World Series baseballs have been slicker, it’s interesting that the Dodgers are only hitting .213/.295/.438/.733 and the Astros .253/.316/.528/.844 in the series. Co-MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor are hitting just .150 and .222 with four extra-base hits between them. Yasiel Puig has two home runs in the series, but is only hitting .143 in 21 at-bats with five strikeouts and no walks.

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History is not on the Dodgers side, but then again this team likes to rewrite the history books.

Everything rides on tonight’s game. Win tonight and the Dodgers will have the momentum and opportunity to capture a world championship on Wednesday night at Chavez Ravine, a feat that has eluded the franchise for 29 long years. Lose, and the season ends with massive disappointment for the team and the dedicated fan base. Either way, there will be tears.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the Co-Editor of Lasorda’s Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.