Dodgers: Getting through the Astros’ top four a second time is key

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Jose Altuve (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Jose Altuve (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The old cliche is back, it’s the greatest two words in sports “game seven”. For the Los Angeles Dodgers to be successful, they must get through the Houston lineup twice.

In a series that has been full of pitching gems, offensive onslaughts, late-game home runs and worn out bullpens the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have stumbled to a game seven. Both teams are worn out from the 200+ games dating back to Spring Training. However, all of that does not matter, now, the only game that really matters is game seven of the World Series.

Baseball fans are being treated to their second straight game seven and perhaps the greatest World Series ever. There has been everything you can ask for in this series, and now, fans are in for a historic game seven.

On paper, the advantage goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have outscored the Astros 33-29. They are at home, riding the momentum from game six. With Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood in the bullpen, we could see another pitching duel in the Dodgers’ favor.

However, the Astros are no easy match. Led by likely MVP Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman the Houston offense is deadly. Homegrown arm Lance McCullers is on the mound, who owns a 2.95 postseason ERA. For the Dodgers, Yu Darvish gets the call. In his last start, Darvish went just 1.2 innings while allowing four runs.

Anything can be expected in game seven. It could be a 1-0 snooze fest. It could be a 10-9 home run derby. Maybe it can even be a 7-0 blowout. The last two game sevens were decided by one run, with the away team winning both.

In all this madness, one key remains intact for the Dodgers. If Los Angeles can unlock this code, they will win. If not, the Houston Astros will celebrate their first World Series title. It is so simple, so obvious, yet so crucial.

The Los Angeles Dodgers HAVE to get through the top four in the Houston lineup a second time

Of course, Dave Roberts wants his starting pitcher, or long relief arm, to get through the Astros lineup. Isn’t that obvious? However, in each and every game this series the game has been decided by that factor. Every time the Dodgers have failed, well, they have lost the game.

In game two Rich Hill allowed three hits and one run in the top of the third. Although he did strike out Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to get out of a jam, this accelerated the bullpen process. Thus, Brandon Morrow was rushed into the game, as was Kenley Jansen, who blew his first career postseason save.

In game three the Houston bats got hot, resulting in four runs in the second inning capped off by a Jose Altuve double. Following that four-run fourth, the Astros scored just one unearned run the rest of the contest. Los Angeles lost 5-3.

Game five was a heavyweight brawl that could have been a blowout if Clayton Kershaw could have gone at least five innings. After cruising through three innings while facing the minimum, a leadoff walk to George Springer in the fourth kickstarted an inning that ended in a four-run comeback.

After Cody Bellinger‘s home run in the fourth, the chains were set and the Astros again capitalized after two straight two-out walks to the top of the Houston lineup. Let’s imagine those home runs still happened. If Kershaw avoided the walks, he could have thrown six innings and allowed just two runs. Instead of 7-7, it would be 7-2.

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Although, look at the games the Los Angeles Dodgers have won. In game one, Kershaw avoided any unnecessary base runners and Alex Bregman hit a solo shot off of him his second time up. The other top four batters struck out. After getting through the top four a second time, the Astros had just one hit.

Then, in game four Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth. Sure, George Springer hit a solo shot to put the Astros up 1-0, but the second time around the top four Astros went hitless. By avoiding unnecessary runners, Wood limited the damage to just one run, not two or three. The Dodgers rallied to win 6-2.

Finally, last night, the Dodgers won 3-1 behind a great performance out of the bullpen. In the same exact fashion, Springer hit a solo home run his second time around; not a two-run or three-run shot, a solo shot. Then, the Astros pressured in the fifth, but Dave Roberts went to Brandon Morrow to eliminate the bases loaded rally.

After loading the bases in the fifth the Astros had just two hits.

The Houston Astros have been doing the most damage the second time around in the lineup. If the Dodgers want to be World Series Champions they must follow the simple formula.

Next: Dodgers force game seven

Get through the Houston lineup twice. Limit them to one or fewer runs. Then, the Astros pitching will start to fade and the Dodgers can put the runs on late.