5 keys to Game 3 of Astros-Dodgers World Series

HOUSTON – It’s time to forget about what happened in Los Angeles.

Yes, I know it was a special win and a special night for the Astros, who rallied to beat the Dodgers 7-6 in 11 innings to even the World Series at one game each.

Now, this World Series has quickly become the best three out of five, and I can tell you this series is far from over.

Wednesday night, the Astros simply played Astros baseball, and it was as simple as that. They have shown that same mentality all season long and have been a team that sports a potent offense. They also play the full nine innings. In Game 2, they just happened to pull it off on the World Series stage.
After the eighth inning, when they cut the Dodgers lead to 3-2 on the Carlos Correa single, the Astros finished the game by doing 9-20 at the plate with four home runs and scored six runs. It can happen that quickly with this team. They set a record with three extra-inning home runs, and earned the first World Series win in team history while they were at it.

Now, it’s time to take that emotional win, regroup and build on it, starting with Game 3 on Friday night.

Let’s start with the pitching matchup we’ll see at Minute Maid Park. Lance McCullers Jr. is up against Yu Darvish. McCullers last pitched in the ALCS, where he came out of the bullpen to spell Charlie Morton. McCullers was extremely sharp and fired off four shutout innings with his usually mid-90s fastball and off-the-table curveball that he has become known for. It's a curveball that's one of the best in the major leagues.

McCulers key goals for Game 3 are simple: have movement on his fastball to go with his velocity and stay sharp with his breaking pitch and slider. McCullers has a bulldog mentality and can’t wait for Friday night's start. He, like Verlander, will face a Dodgers lineup that can break out quickly. Taylor, Seager, Turner, Bellinger and Puig can do some damage at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros' offense appears to have regained its form. George Springer snapped out of his 3-30 slump and broke out big time in Game 2, capped by his two-run home run in the 11th. Bregman has been fairly steady at the plate as has Carlos Correa, who finished with three hits in the Game 3 win.

Keys to an Astros win

1. McCullers magic - He embraces these big game moments. Friday night, Hinch would love to get six or seven solid innings from the 24-year-old. Curveball is his out pitch, and he will throw it often.

2. As always, play clean defense - Give the Dodgers a break and they can hurt you.

3. Dig in Darvish - He has done well against the Astros in the past during his Rangers days. The Astros will need to jump on him quickly. Springer has regained his mojo, and he needs to set up Bregman, Altuve, Correa and Gurriel.

4. Home sweet home - They are 6-0 at home, and the fans will be a factor again. It's time for the Astros to take care of business and go for a sweep to wrap this up on Sunday.

5. Enjoy the moment - This is the World Series. Players on both teams should take it all in, relax and play baseball.

Enjoy the games this weekend.