LOS ANGELES – Justin Verlander is 4-0 during his stellar postseason run and looks to continue the success when the Houston Astros visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday. Verlander will aim to help Houston knot the series after Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner guided the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory in Game 1.
Verlander was acquired from Detroit by the Astros to fortify their rotation, and now he’s a symbol of a franchise looking for its first World Series title in the wake of a damaging hurricane that ravaged Houston in August. “In any organization, the opportunity to win your first championship is something special, but really with what’s going on in Houston now specifically, I think it makes it even that much more special,” Verlander said during his press conference on Tuesday. “I mean, given this opportunity, if we come away successful, you leave a legacy and mark on people that won’t be forgotten.” Kershaw allowed one run and three hits with 11 strikeouts over seven innings while Turner belted a tiebreaking two-run homer (his fourth of the postseason) in Tuesday’s victory. “You enjoy it while it happens,” Turner told reporters, “and then you go home and you find a way to prepare, and we’ve got to figure out how to beat Verlander.”
TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Justin Verlander (4-0, 1.46 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Rich Hill (0-0, 3.00)
Verlander has a stellar 11-5 postseason record, but none of those victories occurred in the World Series, where he went 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in three career starts for the Tigers. The 34-year-old’s arrival in Houston changed the complexion of the rotation, providing the team with a second ace alongside Dallas Keuchel as well as raising the stature of the organization. “We understand the magnitude of his performance and the magnitude of his entrance into our clubhouse,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said at a press conference. “The way he’s fit in, the way he’s been intellectually curious on how to get better, but let’s be honest, ultimately the way he’s performed, has been second to none.”
Hill is 1-2 with a 3.96 ERA in six career postseason starts and is making his World Series debut. The 37-year-old is trying to keep the moment in perspective after his major-league career appeared to be finished in the summer of 2015, when he signed with the independent Long Island Ducks, but 26 of his 50 career regular-season victories have come since that stint. “I wouldn’t change that for anything,” Hill said at his press conference on Tuesday. “It was learning, reigniting that fire, reigniting that passion for what we do out there on the field. And really getting back into disassociating yourself with the results, and just understanding that it is a pitch-to-pitch process and understanding that the moment is all that matters.”
1. Dodgers CF Chris Taylor led off the bottom of the first inning Tuesday by slugging the first pitch from Keuchel 447 feet over the wall in left field for his third homer of the postseason.
2. Astros 3B Alex Bregman went deep for the third time this postseason to account for his team’s lone run in Game 1.
3. Turner has driven in a franchise-record 14 runs this postseason, and his 26 career RBIs match the club mark set by Hall-of-Famer Duke Snider.
LOS ANGELES – Clayton Kershaw’s intimidation started early Tuesday, well before first pitch, when he came out to “warm up” wearing a jacket as Southern California temperatures soared well over 100 degrees. Kershaw’s pregame routine was not to be trifled with, especially since it was his first World Series appearance, and his in-game performance looked just as familiar.
The Dodgers ace struck out 11 over seven innings, and Chris Taylor and Justin Turner homered as Los Angeles won Game 1 of the World Series 3-1 over the Houston Astros.
Brandon Morrow pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for the save as the Dodgers came out on top in their first World Series game in 29 years.
The Astros are now 0-5 in their World Series history. They were swept in 2005 by the Chicago White Sox.
It was vintage Kershaw as he allowed no walks and three hits, including a home run by Alex Bregman. The owner of a 2.36 ERA in nearly 2,000 regular-season innings, Kershaw has dominated plenty of times in the fashion he did Tuesday. However, the postseason has been a different animal altogether for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
With the Tuesday outing, Kershaw improved to 7-7 with a 4.21 ERA in the postseason. The 11 strikeouts were one shy of his career playoff best. Opponents might have gotten to Kershaw in earlier playoff rounds, but his record is now spotless after one World Series appearance.
“Well, I don’t know if you can decipher between a postseason start and a World Series start,” Kershaw said. “The adrenaline, I feel like every game is so much more magnified. You can’t really tell the difference between another postseason (game) or a World Series start. But definitely feels good to say it was the World Series, and it feels good to say we’re 1-0. And we have to come back tomorrow and do it again.”
The Dodgers got all the offense they needed courtesy of co-National League Championship Series co-MVPs Taylor and Turner.
Taylor hit Astros starter Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch of the game some 447 feet into the left field seats, raising the decibel level even higher from a crowd of 54,253 at Dodger Stadium.
Taylor became the fourth player in World Series history to lead off Game 1 of the World Series with a home run, joining Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar (2015), Boston’s Dustin Pedroia (2007) and Baltimore’s Don Buford (1969).
“That’s some of the fastest bat speed you’ll see in the big leagues,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Taylor. “I don’t know how it measures out. By the eye, it’s pretty impressive. He jump-started them tonight on the first pitch. He got a first-pitch fastball to hit.”
After Bregman’s blast in the fourth, Turner drove one just over the wall in left field in the sixth for a two-run shot that also scored Taylor. Turner’s four home runs this postseason are one shy of the club record for a single postseason set by Davey Lopes in 1978.
Turner has 26 postseason RBIs with the Dodgers, tying Duke Snider for the franchise record. No Dodger has ever recorded more RBIs than the 14 Turner has recorded in these playoffs.
After a strikeout and a foul out in his first two at-bats, Turner said he adjusted from a 34 1/2-ounce bat to one that was 33 1/2 ounces. The in-game adjustment worked.
“That was probably just as loud as it was on the walk-off homer (in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs),” Turner said. “That’s the most electric I’ve ever seen (Dodger Stadium), which it should be as it’s the first World Series here in 29 years. Our fans are fired up, pumped, and the buzz around the city is crazy.”
Kershaw, utilizing a sharp slider, dominated early, striking out five in his first three innings. He didn’t give up a hit until Josh Reddick’s single in the third inning.
In the fourth, Kershaw’s issue with the long ball this postseason surfaced when Bregman homered to left for his third of the playoffs. It was the seventh home run that Kershaw has given up this postseason. Kershaw still struck out the side in the fourth.
“I think (Houston) is a really good hitting team,” Kershaw said. “They hit a lot of homers and don’t strike out. There’s little room for error. So it’s important for me to establish pitches, be able to throw multiple things for strikes, and thankful I was able to do that tonight.
“I made a few mistakes — obviously Bregman got me — then I threw one down the middle to (Carlos) Correa that he popped up; that could’ve gone a long way, too. For the most part, though, I’ll take it.”
Bregman went 1-for-4 to raise postseason average to .196. Five of his eight hits in the playoffs have been for extra bases.
Despite striking out four times, George Springer will be back in the leadoff spot in Game 2, Hinch said.
“He had a tough night at work, and a lot of our guys did,” Hinch said. “I know George has struggled. If he hits the first pitch (Wednesday) into the gap, or hits a single, or hits the ball out of the ballpark, you’d be amazed how good he feels.”
NOTES: Astros RHP Justin Verlander, the AL Championship Series MVP, will start Game 2 on Wednesday against Dodgers LHP Rich Hill. … The Dodgers added SS Corey Seager and RHP Brandon McCarthy to the World Series roster, dropping OF Curtis Granderson and C Kyle Farmer. Seager missed the NL Championship Series with a back injury. … The Astros did not make any changes from their roster in the ALCS. … Houston 3B Alex Bregman, at 23 years, 208 days, became the youngest American League player to hit a home run in a World Series since Manny Ramirez (23 years, 148 days) in 1995. … Astros SS Carlos Correa became the seventh native of Puerto Rico to bat cleanup in a World Series game, joining teammate Carlos Beltran.
Brian McCann and Dallas Keuchel (60)