LOS ANGELES – The Houston Astros have shown two distinctly different personalities this postseason. At home, they’re the potent offense that was on display for most of the regular season. But on the road, they struggle to put anything on the scoreboard.
The anemic Astros showed up again for Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium.
Of course, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw may have had a little something to do with holding Houston to three hits in a 3-1 Dodger victory.
“He’s a great pitcher. He pitched really well tonight. He made some good marginal pitches,” said Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who accounted for his team’s only run – a solo homer off Kershaw in the fourth inning.
Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa seemed to have a rather generous strike zone, one that drew complaints from hitters on both sides, and perhaps played a part in Game 1 lasting just 2 hours, 28 minutes – the fastest World Series game since 1992.
“If you get a veteran guy that’s getting marginal pitches, you know you’re going to be in for a tough night. (Kershaw) took complete advantage getting of those marginal pitches. He pitched where he needed to pitch.”
If the Astros are going to win the first World Series in franchise history, they’re going to have to find a way to break through on the road.
This postseason, the Astros have played six home games and six away games. At Minute Maid Park, they’ve scored 31 runs (5.2 per game) with a .276/.346/.495 slash line.
On the road, they’ve scored just 14 runs (2.3 per game) and are hitting .196/.273/.291.
“We’ve just got to get hits. This is a hard game. This isn’t easy. When you’re facing quality pitching, it gets harder,” said outfielder George Springer, who struck out in all four of his at-bats in Game 1.
“You have to credit them tonight. They threw the ball well. It’s a bit of a different style for us. We’ve just got to come out tomorrow and swing the bat.”
Despite the loss, the Astros know they still have a chance to earn a split in Los Angeles before they return home because they’ll have ace Justin Verlander on the mound.
“We think he can win every single game he pitches. I don't know there's any better compliment for a starting pitcher,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
“I'm not going to put limitations on him. I've run him up to 130 pitches or 125 pitches. National League rules may be a little different but I expect his best, and that's what he's delivered since the day he became an Astro.”
Verlander hasn’t needed much run support this postseason. In four appearances (three starts), he’s allowed four earned runs in 24 ⅔ innings. That’s a 1.46 ERA. And he’s been the winning pitcher in all four games.
“Justin’s gonna be just as good tomorrow,” Bregman said. “He’s going to be the guy you’ve seen all postseason. An animal.”
Two runs may be all they’ll need to earn a split and grab home-field advantage.
“That’s the plan,” said catcher Brian McCann. “Come in here tomorrow, get a well-pitched game and put some runs on the board.”