Los Angeles is hosting its first World Series game since 1988 tonight, with the Houston Astros in Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the 113th MLB championship series. Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts was asked yesterday what it meant to have the Series back in LA and what he thought of his opponent in the Fall Classic.
“I think that obviously we're excited about this opportunity,” Roberts said.
“But we're four wins away from accomplishing our goal. Up to this point, like I've said all year long, we've taken care of what we had to to get to this point. We still have a very focused group, and a lot to be done.”
As for the Astros?
“Very good ballclub,” Roberts said.
“Very well coached. It's a forward-thinking organization. They've got a lot of talent.
“They can pitch. They can slug. They've just got a lot of athleticism. So to kind of prepare for a team like that, poses some problems. But I like our guys, too.”
A.J. Hinch and the Astros had to go to a seventh game with the New York Yankees to earn the AL pennant and their place in the World Series, but they’re in LA and they’re ready.
“The schedule is pretty crazy, just because of the emotions,” Hinch said.
“I don't think any of us allowed ourselves to pack until we knew we needed to pack. Just the superstitious side of all of us.
“But it was a whirlwind, obviously the celebration after Game 7, just the emotion that goes into it. And obviously we left the next day. Got here last night. And then you're trying to hurry and prep for a team that you rarely see.
“We'll take it. The fatigue or the uncertainty of the game plans and stuff like that, we'll spend for the next 24 hours. But what a range of emotions and just pure joy and appreciation for being here and kind of general excitement. Your body feels pretty good right now, even though we know what time of the year it is.”
Hinch’s team has to prepare for pitchers they’ve rarely seen too, and in Game 1 it’s one of the best in baseball, with Clayton Kershaw starting for the Dodgers.
“Look, at this time of year you're not going to face too many guys that aren't pretty good, and it's hard to argue that you're going to face anybody better than Kershaw,” Hinch said.
“He's got every weapon that you would fear. He's got that competitiveness that every ace has. He's got some hardware on his shelf at home. And he's pitching in front of his home crowd. There’s a lot of things tilted in his favor.
“But we're not going to back down. We're not afraid of him. We're not going to concede anything because we've got a pretty good team on our own side.”
Good as Kershaw is, his manager said the Dodgers are not taking the Astros’ starters in the first two games (Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander) lightly. Keuchel gets the nod tonight, and Roberts said he knows it will be a challenge.
‘Keuchel works to the bottom of the zone, changes speeds,” he explained.
“Ball just misses barrels, puts it on the ground and has good tempo, and he's a strike-thrower, as far as it seems like he throws strikes, but it kinds of seems to get out of the strike zone.”
A solid pitching matchup. Two teams who finished with the first (LA) and third (HOU) best records on the season. The 2017 World Series starts tonight...