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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Baseball

Roundtable: World Series tied as it comes to Houston


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The Astros hit three home runs in two extra innings to win Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday, which has them feeling confident as the series returns to Houston for games 3, 4 and 5. Despite the confidence, the Dodgers will not lie down on the road and will likely make every single game of the series a nail-biter.

The Cougar’s sports staff makes their predictions for who will win Game 3 at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

Assistant sports editor Reagan Earnst

Game 2 of the World Series was in all likelihood the greatest game played in Astros’ team history and among the greatest MLB postseason games ever. With the win, the momentum has shifted in favor of Houston.

Because of this momentum shift, I believe it’s a foregone conclusion the Astros win big in Game 3.

Former Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish will take the mound for the Dodgers, which could be an advantage to Astros’ hitters. Oftentimes, an added dimension of difficulty for teams in the World Series is navigating the unfamiliarity that comes with facing pitchers and hitters they likely did not play against in the regular season.

Any advantage you can gain over your opponent is crucial in times like these, and the fact the Astros have faced Darvish 14 times over the last four seasons can potentially bode well for Houston hitters.

Now listen, I need you not to panic when I show you this stat, OK?

Darvish has a 5-5 record with a 3.44 ERA, including 118 strikeouts in 89 innings pitched against the Astros. If you’re anything like me, you probably hate math, but thanks to the internet, I can tell you that Darvish averages 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings against Houston.

Fear not — the inflated numbers came against the awful Astros’ teams of 2012 and 2013. Over the last three seasons, Darvish has mustered just a 1-4 record with 55 strikeouts.

Houston will jump on Darvish pitches early on their way to an 8-2 win and 2-1 series lead.

Assistant sports editor Peter Scamardo

The Astros are going to win at home, and they are going to win big. They have gotten over their troubles on the road and are confidently returning to Minute Maid Park. The top of the order is finally hitting well, and their hits came off what is said to be the best bullpen in baseball.

The fans at Minute Paid Park will make Darvish uncomfortable early, and Lance McCullers for the Astros will continue to have success with his slider.

The Astros defense has played well through the first two games. If the starting pitchers don’t allow numerous home runs, then they should be safe. Now that the Astros hitters are playing like they did early in the season, the runs will come in large quantity.

After Friday night, the Astros will be up two games to one with the World Series title within reach.

Sports editor Frank Campos

This is going to be a tough game for the Astros. After stealing a game at Dodger Stadium to tie the series 1-1, both clubs go into Houston with momentum, but Houston must capitalize on the home-field advantage and walk away with a win Friday night.

Recently traded right-hander Darvish will go against righty Lance McCullers. The Dodgers ace has appeared in two games so far this postseason with 11.1 innings of work. In that time, Darvish is sporting a staggering 1.59 ERA, and 14 strikeouts.

Darvish takes a while to get going, but he can be one of the top pitchers in baseball when he’s locked in. McCullers, meanwhile, hasn’t done so badly himself with three games played this postseason and 13 innings of work so far. In that time, he has 2.08 ERA with 13 strikeouts and a 0.85 WHIP, or walks plus hits per inning pitched.

The pitchers are evenly matched, but Darvish has a slight edge. The Astros need McCullers to overcome his disadvantage and get the win.

The problem is that the Dodgers’ hitters will be a formidable adversary for McCullers and could make the game get out of hand in a park that doesn’t require a lot of power to hit a home run.

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