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4 keys to Astros-Dodgers World Series Game 1

The World Series logo is painted on to the field in preparation for game one and two at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
The World Series logo is painted on to the field in preparation for game one and two at Dodger Stadium on October 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – The journey first began when pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in West Palm Beach and now over eight months later the Houston Astros have reached the ultimate final destination point.

The World Series time begins Tuesday night in Los Angeles at historic Dodger Stadium.

It's only fitting that the two teams that shared the spotlight back in July are the final two teams standing. Both the Astros and Dodgers had over 60 wins at the All Star Break and both finished with over 100 wins when the season ended. The two heavyweights in baseball now clash in the best-of-seven series that will crown a champion sometime in the next week or so.

The Dodgers have four titles and many appearances in the World Series, while this marks only the second World Series appearance in franchise history for the Astros. They were swept in 2005 by the Chicago White Sox. The Astros believe this is a better team that can produce a better, more competitive result.

Here are 4 keys to Game 1:

1. RELAX AND ENJOY THE MOMENT 


First things first and that is take in what you are about to experience as a player. George Springer told me at Monday's Media Day that's the advice he is hearing from guys that have been to the World Series.

Take that extra time during pre-game to walk out on to the field and as Springer put it to me, "Just look around, realize where you are and what you are playing for." Then it's time to simply play baseball and push aside the fact you are on the biggest stage in baseball.  

2. ATTACKING CLAYTON KERSHAW 


Kershaw has the best ERA in baseball and thanks to being held back on pitch counts in September, he is strong and healthy again. His last outing was a solid one against the Cubs in the NLCS-clinching win, where he went six innings giving up only one run. He'll enter tonight's World Series opener on full rest.

Kershaw has the full arsenal on the mound with a great fastball that moves, and an over-the-top curveball that's tough to hit when he's at his best. The Astros need to get to Kershaw early. Hinch won't change his style and will be aggressive once the Astros have runners on base after walks or hits.

3. KEUCHEL NEEDS TO PITCH HIS GAME, HAVE COMMAND 


Dallas Keuchel has returned to his Cy Young form with Game 5 of the ALCS against the Yankees one of the few exceptions this season. Keuchel doesn't blow anyone away with his velocity but that's OK because when he has his A-game when his fastball has plenty of movement.  Add his curve and slider and location and that's why he's tough to beat. Keuchel is facing a deep and powerful Dodger lineup that can hurt you in many ways.

The key tonight, as always, will be that Keuchel produces groundball outs. If that's happening then things should fare well for the lefty.

4. PLAY CLEAN DEFENSIVELY 


I've said this in other previews and will say it again because it's a fact in any game -- defense needs to be stout especially here in the World Series where you can't afford to give up extra bases. The Astros are a very good defensive club that focused on this area from Day 1 of Spring Training. There's a reason they do those extra drills at camp because during the season and here in October it needs to be a priority.

I've loved the way Alex Bregman has handled third base so far. He made some really nice plays against the Yankees and is learning every day. Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel are outstanding as well to backup Keuchel as is the Astros outfield that includes Reddick, Springer and likely Marwin Gonzalez.

It's time to quick talking and finally get the World Series underway. Let's enjoy the ride!

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