Astros take command early, lead Series 2-1
HOUSTON — After working in tandem to splendid results earlier in the evening, Astros right-handers Lance McCullers and Brad Peacock shared a podium late Friday night and reveled in their moment together.
They were thrilled after having thrived before an extensive gathering of friends and family and elated to be reliving their co-authoring of a landmark victory in franchise annals.
After McCullers wobbled but held firm to a lead that came courtesy of a four-run second inning, he handed the ball to Peacock, who breezed to the finish of the Houston’s 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros grabbed a 2-1 series with their first-ever World Series home win. Game 4 is set for Saturday night.
After allowing two inherited baserunners to score in the sixth, Peacock shackled the Dodgers for the duration of the game, allowing just one baserunner — a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Andre Ethier in the seventh — while working 3 2/3 hitless innings for his first postseason save.
“After the eighth (Astros manager) A.J. (Hinch) asked me if I felt good and I said, ‘Yeah,’” said Peacock, who had an 8.44 ERA this postseason. “He said, ‘Alright, you’re going back out.’ I was shocked, but I was glad he gave me the opportunity to do that. It was a lot of fun out there for sure.”
McCullers (1-0) labored and allowed three runs, four hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, escaping the top of the third with just one run on his ledger courtesy of a 3-6-1 double play off the bat of Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager after walking the bases loaded to open the inning.
McCullers pitched with a bit of wiggle room after the Astros erupted and secured a 4-0 lead against Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish (0-1) a half-inning earlier. That support proved vital.
“I didn’t have much tonight from the get-go,” McCullers said. “I was not really able to locate pretty much anything. So the third inning I just wasn’t making my pitches. After a big four-run inning, you don’t want to change you approach ... because that’s the easiest way to get in trouble. I stuck with mine and I just didn’t land pitches. I just wasn’t executing at that time.
“I did the best that I could for as long as I could until P came in and pitched absolutely unbelievably.”
Houston first baseman Yuli Gurriel ignited the onslaught with a homer and finished 2-for-5, one of three Astros to produce a multi-hit game. Houston, however, stranded 12 baserunners.
It was a nightmarish outing for Darvish, who dominated in his lone regular-season appearance at Minute Maid Park and was victorious on the road at Arizona and Chicago in the postseason.
From the onset, the Astros were on top of Darvish, starting with George Springer and his opposite-field leadoff double in the first inning. Darvish survived that inning unscathed but wasn’t so fortunate in the second when the Astros unleashed a barrage of hard-hit balls.
The first five batters of the second reached base safely for Houston, starting with the Gurriel leadoff homer to left. Marwin Gonzalez and Brian McCann later added run-scoring singles and, when Jose Altuve doubled with two outs, Darvish was yanked after recording only five outs.
Darvish produced just one swing and miss among his 49 pitches. He allowed six batted balls with exit velocities of 100-plus mph and saddled the Dodgers with a deficit they couldn’t erase.
“The fastball command wasn’t there, and the slider was backing up,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So he just really didn’t have the feel and couldn’t get any type of rhythm going.
“They were taking good swings, obviously taking good at-bats against him. But it just goes to the fastball command and the breaking ball just wasn’t there tonight.”
NOTES: Astros 1B Yuli Gurriel was caught by television cameras making a racist gesture mocking Japanese-born Dodgers RHP Yu Darvish after Gurriel homered off Darvish to open the second inning. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody,” said Gurriel, a Cuban who played professionally in Japan. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred plans to speak with Gurriel on Saturday. “No one is perfect,” Darvish said. “That includes both you and I. What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind.”... Despite posting an OPS of .499 against right-handed pitchers this season, Dodgers LF Enrique Hernandez was in the starting lineup. Hernandez delivered a key RBI single against Astros RHP Ken Giles in Game 2. He was initially the designated hitter before flipping positions with Joc Pederson, and finished 0-for-1 with a walk before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh. ... In line with the quality of his at-bats, Astros 3B Alex Bregman hit second in the order, a spot normally reserved for left-handed-hitting RF Josh Reddick against right-handers. Bregman carried a four-game hitting streak into Game 3, with a slash line of .294/.333/.588 and four RBIs over that span. He finished 0-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in Game 3.