2017-10-28 01:33:03
Astros 5, Dodgers 3 | Houston leads series, 2-1: Astros Rout Yu Darvish and Hold On to Beat the Dodgers in Game 3

01:33, October 28 227 0

HOUSTON — The list of stellar pitchers that the Houston Astros’ lineup has toppled this postseason is impressive: Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel, Luis Severino, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen — all among the best at their craft.

And by the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night, the Astros had struck again, this time getting the best of another prestigious pitcher — the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yu Darvish. They shelled him for four runs and forced him to make him an unceremonious exit after getting only five outs.

The end result was a 5-3 victory that gave the Astros a lead of two games to one in the Series, with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. The Astros are now 7-0 in their ballpark this postseason. And the Dodgers now trail in a series for the first time in this postseason.

The victory displayed the dynamism of the Astros’ offense. After being limited to one run in Game 1, the Astros have scored 12 over the next two games.

And on Saturday, there is potential for more offense. Charlie Morton, who will start for the Astros, has produced mixed results this postseason, while Alex Wood, the Dodgers’ starter, allowed three runs over four and two-thirds innings in the previous round, his only outing of the postseason.

Even though the Astros played a solid all-around game on Friday night, with good defense and competent starting pitching from Lance McCullers Jr., they also created some controversy. After Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel smashed a home run off Darvish in the second inning, television cameras spotted him smiling and using his hands to stretch the edges of his eyes, as if to mimic Darvish, who is from Japan.

During the regular season, the Astros possessed a uniquely powerful lineup. They led all teams in most major offensive categories: runs scored, batting average, on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

They were also second in the major leagues in home runs — trailing only the Yankees — and they finished last in strikeouts. They were the third team in the last 100 years to lead in slugging percentage and have the fewest strikeouts. In other words: They were a nightmare for opposing pitching staffs.

They were not perfect on Friday — they left 12 runners on base and could have turned the game into a blowout with another timely hit or two — but they were certainly tough on Darvish.

Entering the game, Darvish had been excellent for the Dodgers in the postseason. Acquired in a midseason trade, he had allowed only one run in 11⅓ playoff innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs.

Against the Astros, however, his pitches seemed flat. He looked uncomfortable on the mound, fidgeting and slowing his pace.

After coughing up the home run to Gurriel to start the second inning, Darvish gave up a double to right fielder Josh Reddick and walked designated hitter Evan Gattis. Normally, pitching coaches run out to the mound to talk to a sputtering pitcher. Manager Dave Roberts did it instead, with the entire infield converging on the mound. Roberts left Darvish in the game.

The momentary reprieve did not work. Left fielder Marwin Gonzalez smashed a ball off the left-center field wall that looked like a double, but Gattis advanced only to second base. Gonzalez settled for a run-scoring single. Catcher Brian McCann followed with another single that drove in a run.

And after center fielder George Springer lined out, third baseman Alex Bregman gave the Astros a 4-0 lead with a sacrifice fly that scored Gonzalez.

When Jose Altuve doubled, Roberts had seen enough. He emerged from the dugout, and this time Darvish was coming out to end the shortest start of his career.

Of the 49 pitches he threw, Darvish induced only one swing and miss. For the first time in his career, Darvish struck out none in a start.

Meanwhile, McCullers vacillated between strong and shaky. He was helped by the Astros’ defense, which has been sound all series and helped save runs on Friday.

In the first inning, second baseman Altuve robbed a hit from Corey Seager with a ranging play, and Springer raced to deep center field to catch Justin Turner’s fly ball.

When McCullers got himself in trouble by walking three batters to load the bases in the third inning, his defense helped him wriggle out with minimal damage. Gurriel, Correa and McCullers pulled of a slick double play that allowed a run but notched critical outs. Then McCullers got Turner to ground out to end the inning.

Springer also made a diving catch in the fifth inning, robbing Taylor of another hit, this time with Joc Pederson on third base.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, made mistakes. Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig was thrown out at second base when he should have easily had a double in the fourth inning.

Puig poked a ball down the third base line, and apparently not knowing where the hit went, he ran through first base. Belatedly, as he realized the ball had gotten past Bregman, he took off for second base. Shortstop Carlos Correa threw Puig out.

The Astros took a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning when Dodgers reliever Tony Watson threw wildly to first base on an infield chopper, allowing Reddick to score all the way from first.

The Dodgers scored two more runs against McCullers in the sixth inning, but the Astros received a boost from reliever Brad Peacock. Used mainly as a starter during the season, the versatile Peacock fired three and two-thirds scoreless innings to complete the game, and ensured that the work of the Astros’ lineup would hold up.