World Series 2017: Dodgers Lead Astros in Game 6

Bottom 7th: Pederson goes deep.

Joe Musgrove was given the unenviable task of coming in for Justin Verlander. The right-hander retired Yasiel Puig on a pop-out to short, but Joc Pederson, who has been on fire recently, crushed a 1-2 fastball for an opposite-field home run that increased the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Musgrove recovered to retire pinch-hitter Andre Ethier on a fly to left and he struck out Austin Barnes to end the inning, but the Dodgers will be handing the game over to Kenley Jansen for a six-out save, and he has a two-run cushion to work with.

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Josh Reddick was forced out at second base by Chase Utley on a fielder’s choice in the seventh inning.

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Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Top 7th: Astros threaten, but come up short.

The Astros got the situation they wanted, with Jose Altuve at the plate with a runner in scoring position, but the Dodgers got out of the inning unscathed, maintaining their 2-1 lead.

Josh Reddick walked to lead things off, which brought up the pitcher’s spot, and Justin Verlander was removed for a pinch-hitter. Kenta Maeda came on in relief to face Evan Gattis, and induced a force-out at second. George Springer singled, at which point Houston replaced Gattis on the bases with Derek Fisher, and the speedy pinch-runner advanced to third on a flyout to center by Alex Bregman.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Altuve came up, and was hacking away from the first pitch, but he ended up grounding out to third to end the inning, with the throw just barely beating him at first.

Walstein: The Dodgers are doing a great job on Jose Altuve and Calros Correa, who are a combined 0 for 7. Astros manager A.J. Hinch waited to pinch run for Evan Gattis until Gattis reached second base, which is often done by managers. But if he had immediately sent Derek Fisher in to run after Gattis reached first on a fielder’s choice, he might have made it to third base on George Springer’s single, which got past Corey Seager at shortstop and dribbled into left field. It would have been close, but if a runner did make it there, he definitely would have scored on Bregman’s deep fly ball out. Would have, could have.

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Corey Seager hit a sacrifice fly off Justin Verlander in the sixth inning, putting the Dodgers up by one run.

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Bottom 6th: Dodgers find Verlander’s number.

Justin Verlander got himself into trouble and the Astros are now trailing 2-1. Austin Barnes stroked a leadoff single into left, which brought up pinch-hitter Chase Utley. Despite Utley being 0 for 14 in this year’s postseason, Verlander pitched him very carefully before hitting him with a pitch. That brought up Chris Taylor, who lined a double into to right, bringing Barnes home and tying the game 1-1.

With runners on second and third, Corey Seager hit a long fly to right that seemed as if it might leave the park, but eventually ended up as a sacrifice fly when the ball landed in Josh Reddick’s glove and Utley scored.

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Verlander stopped the bleeding by getting a foul-out from Justin Turner and a strikeout from Cody Bellinger, but he will be done with six innings of work because he is due up second in the next inning.

Waldstein: Justin Verlander will not do a Josh Beckett in Game 6. He is out of the game for pinch-hitter Evan Gattis in the top of the 7th. What an interesting inning. Verlander certainly looked like he had reached his limit. Even the first out — Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly ball to right — was hit hard enough to have been a home run in Yankee Stadium, anyway. Although Verlander walked off without the chance to get his first World Series win in three separate trips to the Fall Clbadic, he did well to limit the damage when the Astros had already evened the score and had runners at second and third with no out.

Now this game is all about the bullpens, and the Dodgers have the marginal advantage.

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Brian McCann was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning.

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Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Top 6th: Dodgers’ bullpen gets out of another jam.

Brandon Morrow has been almost comically overused, with tonight representing the reliever’s 13th postseason appearance this year — the record is 14, which was set by Paul Assenmacher of the Cleveland Indians in 1997. He was not perfect, allowing a two-out single to Yulieski Gurriel, but pressed into duty for his sixth World Series game this year, he got three critical outs for Los Angeles. Tony Watson took over for him after Gurriel’s hit, and immediately hit Brian McCann with a pitch. But he finished off the inning without allowing a run, getting Marwin Gonzalez to line out to second, erasing the two base runners.

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Bottom 5th: Verlander gets eighth strikeout.

Justin Verlander is still working with a one-run lead, but he continues to cruise. In the fifth he needed just one pitch to retire Yasiel Puig on a fly ball to right, threw three pitches to Joc Pederson, getting him to fly out to left, and then battled a bit with Logan Forsythe before striking him out on seven pitches to end the inning. Verlander has eight strikeouts on 69 pitches. He has the endurance to throw 120 or more if the Astros can avoid a situation where they need to pinch-hit for him.

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Dodgers’ starting pitcher Rich Hill was pulled in the fifth inning.

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Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Top 5th: Dodgers go to bullpen early … again.

Brandon Morrow, who has pitched in each game of the World Series, was called on once again because Rich Hill had loaded the bases with two outs. The Dodgers’ setup man, who faltered badly in Game 5, got out of the inning when Alex Bregman grounded out to short to end what looked like a Houston rally.

Brian McCann led off the inning with a single to right and went to third when Marwin Gonzalez doubled past a diving Alex Bregman. Hill chose to pitch to Josh Reddick despite first base being open and the pitcher being on deck, and was rewarded for it when Reddick struck out. Justin Verlander also struck out, and after George Springer was intentionally walked to load the bases, Hill’s night was over.

With Los Angeles into its bullpen for the remainder of the game, Hill’s final line was 4 2/3 innings, four hits and one run. He struck out five and walked one. He threw just 58 pitches.

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Waldstein: Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts did what he has been consistently doing with Rich Hill, pulling him before the third time through the Dodgers’ batting order. Hill did his job, keeping the Dodgers in the game.

The fans did not like it when Hill came out, but it worked to perfection. Brandon Morrow, who looked completely gbaded in Game 5, came in with the bases loaded and got the Astros out of the jam.

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Justin Turner struck out in the fourth inning.

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Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Bottom 4th: Verlander mows down Dodgers’ big hitters.

Through four innings it is almost surprising that the Dodgers have a hit. Justin Verlander continued to dominate, retiring Corey Seager on a fly to left and then fooling Justin Turner on a cutter for strike three. With two outs, Verlander got his seventh strikeout of the game when Cody Bellinger swung right through a fastball to end the inning.

Waldstein: Verlander looks really sharp, as expected. He gets Justin Turner on a 92 miles-per-hour cutter and then gets Cody Bellinger on a 97 miles-per-hour fastball perfectly located up and in. He is pitching without the same kind of safety net that Rich Hill is. That is because the Astros are really out of good options in the bullpen. Everyone is either worn out or ineffective, or both. The supposed closer, Ken Giles, may not even pitch any more because he has been so bad. Keep in mind that before the game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said that he would do whatever is necessary to win tonight, including possibly using Lance McCullers to close it out. “I think if you complicate it and try to manage two games at once, you’ll find yourself having two games,” he said.

Top 4th: Hill settles in after giving up home run.

With the exception of the solo homer he allowed in the third inning, Rich Hill has matched Justin Verlander. It was more of the same in the fourth. He retired Jose Altuve on a grounder to short, got Carlos Correa to fly out to center, and after Yulieski Gurriel was once again greeted with heavy booing, Hill got him to fly out to right to end the inning.

Bottom 3rd: Verlander notches his fifth strikeout.

It was a remarkably quiet inning for Justin Verlander. Austin Barnes grounded out to second, Rich Hill struck out on a foul-tip into Brian McCann’s mitt, and Chris Taylor watched strike three sail right by him to end the inning. Verlander now has five strikeouts, but has seen his pitch-count creep up to 43.

Waldstein: Justin Verlander is looking good so far, especially with that called third strike breaking ball to Joc Pederson in the second inning. If he is getting that pitch over for strikes, he will be hard to beat. Incredible to believe, but Verlander is searching for his first World Series win. He is 0-3 in three World Series appearances, two for the Tigers. His earned run average in those games is 6.43. He looks better than that tonight.

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Yasiel Puig couldn’t catch a solo home run hit by George Springer in the third inning.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Top 3rd: Springer puts Astros on the board.

Rich Hill was cruising, having retired seven consecutive batters. But with two outs in the third, he made a mistake on a pitch to George Springer, and the poorly-located fastball was deposited into the stands in right to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. Hill got out of the inning when Alex Bregman grounded out to short, but Hill has made the mistake of giving Justin Verlander a run to work with.

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Waldstein: With Springer’s home run, these teams have now hit 23, extending the World Series record. It was also the 16th to either break a tie or give the team a lead.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about all the home runs in Game 5. The Astros had 5. The only other teams to do that in the World Series were the 1989 Athletics and the 1928 Yankees. Babe Ruth hit 3 in Game 4 of ’28 and Lou Gehrig and Cedric Durst each hit one. (The Big Three, right?)

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Justin Verlander reacted after giving up a single to Yasiel Puig.

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Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Bottom 2nd: Verlander gives up a hit, but nothing else.

Justin Verlander got a quick out when Cody Bellinger struck out to start the inning, but Yasiel Puig gave the Dodgers their first hit of the night when he looped a ball into center that dropped in front of George Springer. The base runner did not faze Verlander, who froze Joc Pederson with a curveball for a called strike three and then got out of the inning when Logan Forsythe flew out to right.

Waldstein: Hours before Game 6 started, the TV monitors all around Dodger Stadium were showing highlights of the Dodgers’ series-clinching victory over the Yankees in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series. It seemed to be a hopeful projection of a positive historical precedent, but it could be seen two ways. The Dodgers won that game on the road after leading, 3 games to 2.

Since 1980, only five teams have won Game 6 on the road, beginning with the ’81 Dodgers. The most recent example is last year’s Cubs, but they were trailing, 2-3, when they went into Cleveland and won both games.

Top 2nd: Dodger fans roar at Gurriel.

It was another 1-2-3 inning for Rich Hill. Just as they did during lineup introductions, the crowd in Los Angeles greeted Yulieski Gurriel with loud boos throughout his first at-bat. When Hill got him to pop out to Cody Bellinger in foul territory, they erupted into cheers. Brian McCann flew out to right, and the half-inning ended when Marwin Gonzalez grounded out to third. Gonzalez has gone 11 at-bats without a hit.

Waldstein: The Dodger Stadium fans really gave it to Gurriel during his at-bat in the second inning, penance for his racist gesture toward Yu Darvish in Game 3. The booing was much louder than I expected. I did not realize that Dodger fans were such great humanitarians. I also noted that it was Dodger fans who were most outraged when MLB did not suspend Gurriel during the World Series. Well, that is understandable. And considering how much the Astros fans cheered for him after it, perhaps it was good that he heard the other side of the debate, too.

Bottom 1st: Verlander cruises through top of order.

The Astros are hoping Justin Verlander can pitch as deep into the game as possible. A seven-pitch first inning should help. He retired Chris Taylor on just one pitch when the Dodgers’ leadoff man flew out to right. He rung up Corey Seager on a called strike three with a 97 mile-per-hour fastball that just caught the inside edge of the plate, and he ended the inning by getting Justin Turner to pop out to third.

Waldstein: Rich Hill gets through the first without much trouble and Justin Verlander does the same in this rematch of Game 2. Houston is placing their hopes in this game squarely on Verlander’s shoulders. The Astros’ bullpen has been largely ineffective, and although it is mostly unheard-of in baseball any more, they would love for him to be the hero and throw a complete game on the road, much the way Josh Beckett did for the Marlins against the Yankees in Game 6, 2003.

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That was one of the most remarkable World Series pitching performances I ever saw live. It’s a lot to ask, but Verlander is capable, and I can almost guarantee that is what he expects of himself.

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The Astros’ Alex Bregman hit a single in the first inning.

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Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Top 1st: Hill gets out of inning without damage.

Game 6 began at 8:21 p.m. Eastern when Rich Hill of the Dodgers delivered a first-pitch ball to George Springer of the Astros. It was a quick first out when Springer struck out on four pitches, but Alex Bregman then lined a single to left. Hill was unfazed by the base runner, striking out Jose Altuve and then getting out of the inning when Carlos Correa grounded out to third.

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Cooler this time around at Chavez Ravine.

It’s a beautiful, festive night here at Chavez Ravine, unless you are Yuli Gurriel, who was booed loudly during pregame introductions.

Tommy Lasorda and Orel Hershiser threw out the ceremonial first pitches, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Ashton Kutcher and Rob Lowe were on top of the dugouts waving Blue Dodgers flags, and the fans are pumped. Thanks for checking in. Let’s do this.

Here are the top story lines for Game 6:

■ Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 E.R.A.) will start for the Astros against Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32) of the Dodgers in a rematch of Game 2. Neither pitcher factored into the decision in that game, but both have pitched well during the postseason.

■ This World Series has already set a record with a combined 22 home runs, but there has not been a single dominant batter. George Springer of the Astros has the most with three, while six other batters have two. The Astros only have one batter, Josh Reddick, who has gone to the plate 10 or more times without homering.

DODGERS’ LINEUP:

Chris Taylor, CF (4 for 18, .222)

Corey Seager, SS (5 for 20, .250)

Justin Turner, 3B (3 for 20, .150)

Cody Bellinger, 1B (4 for 20, .200)

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Yasiel Puig, RF (3 for 21, .143)

Joc Pederson, LF (4 for 11, .364)

Logan Forsythe, 2B (4 for 13, .308)

Austin Barnes, C (3 for 16, .188)

Rich Hill, P (0 for 1, .000)

ASTROS’ LINEUP:

George Springer, CF (7 for 21)

Alex Bregman, 3B (6 for 22)

Jose Altuve, 2B (6 for 24)

Carlos Correa, SS (7 for 21)

Yuli Gurriel, 1B (5 for 20)

Brian McCann, C (4 for 19)

Marwin Gonzalez, LF (2 for 17)

Josh Reddick, RF (4 for 19)

Justin Verlander, P (0 for 1)

■ Yasiel Puig has guaranteed a victory in Game 6, saying “My team is not going to be finished on Tuesday. There’s going to be Game 7.” It would help if the outfielder could be more consistent at the plate, where he has just three hits in the Series. In his defense, he has made them count. His first was a 10th inning home run in Game 2. His second was a run-scoring single in the sixth inning of Game 3. His third was a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 5. In Puig’s other at-bats he is 0 for 18 with no walks and five strikeouts.

■ The Astros have won all 10 games that Verlander has started for them since he came over from the Detroit Tigers in a trade on Aug. 31. His combined E.R.A. in regular and postseason starts for Houston is 1.53, and the three earned runs he allowed in Game 2 qualified as his worst start since Aug. 15. Considering the sorry state of Houston’s bullpen they will want him in the game for as long as possible, and Verlander is up to the challenge: He has 55 career games with 120 or more pitches and in those games he was 31-11 with a 2.77 E.R.A.

■ The bullpens have been a huge problem for both teams as fatigue has narrowed the gap between the talented Los Angeles relievers and their maligned Houston counterparts. The managers for both teams may have no option to avoid pitching changes, however, as the Series shifts back to a National League park, thus removing the designated hitter. A true indictment for either bullpen would come if a starting pitcher were allowed to bat late in the game with runners on base.

■ No batter has turned themselves around more than Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, who started the Series 0 for 13, and since that point is 4 for 7 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. He has some competition from Jose Altuve of the Astros, who was 3 for 19 going into Game 5, but then exploded with a 3 for 5 performance that included a home run and four runs batted in.

■ Yulieski Gurriel’s presence in the Series will be seen as somewhat controversial if the Houston Astros win. The first baseman received a five-game suspension for racially insensitive behavior in Game 3, but the decision was made not to enforce the penalty until the start of next season. Yu Darvish, the Dodgers player the behavior was directed toward, has shown remarkable forgiveness, but Dodgers fans are likely not happy that a suspended player drove in three runs in Game 5.

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