Astros: World Series Preview – Game 7
By Cody Poage
The Astros and Dodgers will engage in one of the best events in sports Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium: Game 7 of the World Series.
Well, Game 7 of the World Series is happening. Though the Astros received a solid start from Justin Verlander in Game 6, the bats went cold at the wrong time. Josh Reddick’s at-bat with two runners on-base and no outs will not be a popular sports moment in Houston.
Credit the Dodgers, too. They didn’t win 104 games by accident. Their pitching staff made the pitches they needed when it mattered.
But that’s enough about Game 6. Game 7 is approaching at full speed later on Wednesday.
For the Astros, they will be sending Lance McCullers to the mound. The uber-competitive right-hander threw 5.1 innings of three-run ball in a Game 3 victory. The Dodgers will counter with their same starting pitcher from Game 3, Yu Darvish. You may recall that Houston chased Darvish out of the game after 1.2 innings and four runs allowed.
Needless to say, both starters hope to pitch better than they did last Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Honestly, I’m not sure who will win Game 7. Both team’s have compelling arguments. For example, the Astros’ offense is always a threat to break out. We witnessed it in Game 2, 3 and 5 in this World Series. But Game 1, 4 and 6 are a reminder that great pitching can beat good hitting.
Then there is the McCullers factor. His series-ending performance in Game 7 of the ALCS will live in Astros’ lore for a long, long time. And he has a history of showing up in big games. Take his start against the Royals in the 2015 ALDS. And, once again, the save against the Yankees one round ago. But that’s in the past. Notable performances of yesterday or yesteryear does not guarantee success.
The Dodgers have the benefit of Darvish, a known thorn in the Astros’ side since his debut with the Rangers. And odds are that he won’t be as hittable as he was in Game 3. Then there is the looming threat of Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood in relief. And the Dodgers’ lineup will make opposing pitchers pay for their mistakes. They have done it twice against Verlander in the past week.
So, how will the Astros proceed in Game 7?
Depending on how McCullers and the lineup perform early on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a combination of Charlie Morton, Brad Peacock and Dallas Keuchel. If McCullers makes it through the first five or six innings with relatively little to no issues, I think A.J. Hinch turns the ball over to either Morton or Peacock with the hope that one of them finishes the game. The same argument can be said of Keuchel depending on the circumstances and matchup. There is also a slight possibility that Collin McHugh and Verlander get another crack at the Dodgers’ lineup. Even Ken Giles could be an interesting option depending on the situation leverage. Not likely, mind you, but worth considering.
The offense, in my opinion, may hold the keys to victory. Following their relative no-show performance in Game 6, it is imperative that they create pressure on Darvish and early. Ideally the Astros’ offense need to recreate the same situation in Game 3: jump out to an early lead by the second or third inning. Then let the pitching staff hold the Dodgers’ offense at bat while the Houston bats’ continue to chip away at the opposing pitching staff.
There is truly no telling how this game will proceed. After all, this isn’t like any other baseball game. All bets are off. Everyone is digging deep inside themselves to will their team to victory. Everything and the kitchen sink is being thrown at the other team’s way.
Next: Astros can erase the pain of yesteryear in one game
The Astros’ are still in a good spot despite the Game 6 defeat. After all, they are one of the two teams playing for a championship with only one game remaining. That’s worth celebrating by itself. Game 7 could be the perfect ending to one of the best World Series in recent history. Remember this: Just. One. More. Win.
**Statistics courtesy of MLB.com**