World Series Preview — Dodgers vs. Astros (UPDATE: Dodgers Take Game 1, 3-1)
Late on Tuesday afternoon in Southern California, the 2017 Major League Baseball World Series will begin, with the hometown Los Angeles Dodgers facing the Houston Astros. For baseball fans, this is a fantastic contest, featuring the best pitcher in the world (Clayton Kershaw), the likely American League MVP (Jose Altuve), and two teams that each won more than 100 games this year — the first time that's happened since 1970. This is a genuine clash of baseball titans, the winner without doubt deserving the title of World Champion.
This year's World Series, despite having two excellent teams facing off, has a lot to live up to after last fall's instant classic between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. Those two teams, going in, hadn't won a World Series in a combined 170 years. It's been 29 years since the Dodgers took home the Commissioner's Trophy and, as you'll surely hear Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck repeat numerous times, the Astros have never in their 55-year existence won the whole thing. It's the franchise's second appearance overall (the first was in 2005).
If these two can give fans a long, hard-fought series with a few nail-biters and memorable moments, it has a chance to maybe even surpass Cubs-Indians, which would make this one an all-time great World Series. Here's hoping!
How They Got Here: Los Angeles Dodgers
It's the first time L.A. has been to the Fall Classic since 1988, a surprisingly long break for such a storied franchise. They enter the series as slight favorites, but as anyone in baseball can tell you, you just never know what can happen in a seven-game series. Today also happens to be the 29th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's famous game-winning home run off the bench that gave the Dodgers an early lead in their series against the Oakland A's. Let's review that moment of baseball lore, shall we?
The 2017 Dodgers were an absolute force, winning 104 games, tops in the Majors. Then they playoffs started, and they got even better. After sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Division Series, they knocked off the defending champion Chicago Cubs in five games. The D-backs and Cubs won 93 and 92 games, respectively, and the Dodgers absolutely smoked both of them, outscoring them by a combined 48–19 count. That is sheer dominance during what are supposed to be the most challenging games of the year.
On August 25, the Dodgers were an astounding 91–36 — that's 55 games over .500. If not for an inexplicable 11-game losing streak at the beginning of September, we might be talking about them as maybe the best team of all time —as long as they finish things out by winning the World Series. Otherwise, it's just the 2001 Seattle Mariners all over again.
How They Got Here: Houston Astros
As good as the Dodgers were this year, it was actually the Astros who everyone was marveling during the early parts of this season. On June 5, the Astros were already 42–16, running away with the American League. Over the next few months, they came back to Earth, kind of, finishing the season 59–45 and winning the A.L. West by 21 games.
The 'Stros are powered by a mix of young talent and veteran leadership, with 2B Jose Altuve and SS Carlos Correa making for the best up the middle infield in the game (sorry, Cubs). Houston acquired starter Justin Verlander at the trade deadline, and all he did was put up a 1.06 ERA over five starts down the stretch and then claim the ALCS MVP with two lights-out performances over the Yankees. Forty-year-old DH/OF Carlos Beltran may have had a down year during the regular season, but the guy is one of the best postseason hitters of all time, and he's still hunting for his first ring. A special moment over the next week or so would be a heck of a way to cap a great career, but he'll need to have the opportunity first.
Pitching Matchups & Game Schedule
Not everything is set yet, but here's what we have so far. All games will be broadcast on Fox (all times Eastern):
Tuesday, October 24
8 p.m. World Series Game 1: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
Dallas Keuchel (14–5) vs. Clayton Kershaw (18–4)
Wednesday, October 25
8 p.m. Game 2: Astros at Dodgers
Justin Verlander (15–8) vs. Rich Hill (12–8)
Friday, October 27
8 p.m. World Series Game 3: Dodgers at Astros
Yu Darvish (10–12) vs. TBD
Saturday, October 28
8 p.m. World Series Game 4: Dodgers at Astros
Pitching matchup TBD vs. TBD
Sunday, October 29
8 p.m. World Series Game 5*: Dodgers at Astros
TBD vs. TBD
Tuesday, October 31
8 p.m. World Series Game 6*: Astros at Dodgers
TBD vs. TBD
Wednesday, November 1
8 p.m. World Series Game 7*: Astros at Dodgers
TBD vs. TBD
* if necessary
Dodgers in six.