I'm going to switch gears and do the 2020 World Series while I have time. We begin with Game 1 from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on Tuesday, October 20:
Astros 1st: A one-two-three inning for Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. Now let's hear from the Men in Blue.
Dodgers 1st: Astros starter Zack Greinke answered with a perfect inning of his own. We're scoreless after one,
Astros 2nd: Third baseman Alex Bregman drew a leadoff walk. Shortstop Carlos Correa singled to put two men on, and right fielder Kyle Tucker lined a base hit up the middle that scored Bregman and gave the Stros a 1-0 lead. First baseman Yuli Gurriel followed with a double into the left center power alley, Correa and Tucker both scored, and the Stros led 3-0. Catcher Martin Maldonado lifted a fly ball to left, which was caught on the warning track by the Dodgers' Joc Pederson for the first out, but Gurriel oved to third. That brought Greinke to the plate. and he hit a bloop that dropped fair on the right field line. Gurriel scored the Astros' fourth run easily while Greinke pulled in at second for a double.
Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior came out of the dugout to see if Kershaw was okay, and the future Hall of Famer said yes. He proved his fitness by retiring center fielder George Springer on a fly to shallow right center and second baseman Jose Altuve on a grounder to short. But the Astros have broken on top with four runs on four hits, a walk, and a productive fly ball while leaving a runner at second. After an inning and a half, it's Astros 4, Dodgers 0.
Dodgers 2nd: First baseman Max Muncy led off with a single to right. Center fielder Cody Bellinger walked to put two men on, but Greinke got the next two outs, as he struck second baseman Chris Taylor out swinging and retired Pederson on a fly to right. Catcher Austin Barnes kept the inning alive by slapping a base hit past a lunging Greinke and into center field. Muncy scored to put the Dodgers on the board while Bellinger went to third. Kershaw struck out swinging to end the inning, so the Dodgers have to settle for a run on two hits and a walk. and they've left runners at the corners. They trail their former NL West rivals 4-1 after two.
Astros 3rd: Left fielder Michael Brantley drew a leadoff walk. Bregman's bloop double to left center brought him home to restore the Stros' four-run lead. Correa walked to put two men on, but Kershaw caught Tucker looking, then struck Gurriel out swinging, Maldonado's line drive was speared by Muncy to end the inning, but the Stros have added a run on a hit and two walks while leaving runners at first and second. After two and a half, it's Stros 5, Men in Blue 1,
Dodgers 3rd: With one out, shortstop Corey Seager singled to right center. Third baseman Justin Tucker singled to left to put two men on, but the runners had to hold when Muncy flew to left for the second out. Bellinger was next, and here's Joe Buck with the count one ball and one strike:
"After a slow start against the Cardinals in the Wild Card round, Bellinger has had nine hits in the past two rounds, including three home runs, He walked last inning and was left at third. Astros infield at normal depth now that there's one out, even though there are still runners at first and second. Greinke set now, and the one-one pitch is HIT HIGH AND DEEP TO LEFT CENTER! SPRINGER IS BACK, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, BUT THIS ONE IS GONE!.......Just like that, this is a one-run game, as Cody Bellinger hits the first of what figures to be many home runs in this series."
John Smoltz: "This pitch is left up a bit too high in the strike zone, and that's a real mistake against any hitter, let alone one as hot as Cody Bellinger is right now. This ball is absolutely drilled, and Springer has no chance to get it."
Buck: "Left center field is 372 feet from home plate here at Globe Life Field. This home run traveled 395 feet."
Taylor grounded to third to end the inning, but the Dodgers have drawn within a run thanks to Bellinger's three-run homer. We've played three in Arlington, and the Astros are clinging to a 5-4 lead,
Astros 4th: Greinke led off against Kershaw. Here's Joe:
"As we start the top of the fourth, we noticed that Kershaw is walking rather slowly. He's had back trouble throughout the season, and while he was his old dominant self when he shut out the Cardinals to clinch the Wild Card Series, he took the loss in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Braves and just hasn't looked good tonight except for the first, when he retired the Astros in order. Now he'll face his former teammate Greinke to lead things off.......THAT BALL IS HIT A TON DOWN THE RIGHT FIELD LINE, AND IF IT'S FAIR IT'S GONE! TUCKER TO THE TRACK, AND IT'S......FAIR!............Zack Greinke leads off the fourth with a long home run down the right field lone, and the Astros' lead is now two at 6-4."
Smoltz: "Zack Greinke is one of the best hitting pitchers of this generation; he's hit nine home runs in the regular season, and now he hits one out on baseball's biggest stage, This is all the more amazing when you consider that he didn't even start taking batting practice until last week, when the Astros knew they had a chance to be in this series. He's two for two tonight with a homer, a double, and two runs batted in. Not bad at all, Joe."
Buck: "That home run traveled 356 feet according to StatCast. Right field is 326 feet from home plate here at Globe Life Field."
Kershaw got the next two outs when Springer grounded to short and Altuve grounded to third, but Brantley doubled to left to extend the inning. Bregman walked to put two men on, but Correa's popup was caught by Tucker to end the inning. The Astros have extended their lead thanks to Greinke's leadoff homer, but they've also left runners at first and second. After three and a half, it's AL Champs 6, NL Champs 4.
Dodgers 4th: Pederson led off the inning against Greinke. Here's Joe:
"Pederson will lead things off here in the bottom of the fourth, and we'll see what the Dodgers plan to do about Clayton Kershaw, who's due up third. We don't see anyone in the hole just yet, so they could be asking Kershaw if he's up to another inning. Victor Gonzalez has been throwing in the LA bullpen ever since the second inning, so he's more than ready if Kershaw comes out. First pitch to Pederson......HIT HIGH AND DEEP TO CENTER, BACK IS SPRINGER, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, AND GONE!.....Greinke hit the first pitch in the top of the inning out of the park, and Pederson does the same thing here in the bottom of the fourth, It's 6-5."
Smoltz; "We'll have to watch going forward to see if the hits that Greinke's been getting affect his pitching. Swinging a bat can be tiring if you're not used to it, This just seems like a good solid swing by Joc Pederson, but we'll know more as the inning continues. Remember, he had a long inning in the third and had to turn right around and lead off last half-inning,"
Barnes spanked the first pitch he saw off the wall in right center for a double. With Kershaw in obvious pain and a chance to tie the game with a hit staring him in the face, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sent Gavin Lux to the plate as a pinch-hitter, but his popup was caught by Bregman behind third base for out number one, That brought up right fielder Mookie Betts, who socked Greinke's first pitch over Tucker's head in right for a double. Barnes scored, and Game 1 was even at six.
Greinke departed in favor of reliever Andre Scrubb, who got the second out when Seager's fly to deep left was caught by Brantley in foul territory. Scrubb got ahead of Turner two strikes, then threw him four straight balls to put two men on. The same thing happened with Muncy, and now Bellinger was at the plate with the bases loaded. Scrubb promptly threw a wild pitch, which brought Betts home with the go-ahead run as Turner moved to third and Muncy to second. Bellinger eventually grounded to second, stranding the runners and ending the inning. The Men in Blue have taken the lead with three runs on three hits, two walks, and a wild pitch, and as we head to the fifth in Game 1, they lead the Astros 7-6.
Astros 5th: New Dodgers pitcher Victor Gonzalez had a one-two-three inning: Tucker and Gurriel each struck out swinging, and Maldonado grounded to Muncy at first to end the inning. We're halfway through Game 1, and it's Los Angeles7, Houston 6.
Dodgers 5th; Taylor led off with a walk, which brought Pederson to the plate. Here's Joe with the count two balls and no strikes:
"(Astros manager) Dusty Baker's looking for length from his bullpen, but Scrubb's had control problems ever since he came into the game. Brandon Bielak's just about ready in the Houston bullpen, so we'll see how much patience Dusty has left with Scrubbs. TWO-BALL PITCH BELTED DEEP TO RIGHT! BACK IS TUCKER, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, AND GONE!.........That's two home runs tonight for Joc Pederson, who's driven in three runs, and the Los Angeles lead is now 9-6 here in the fifth."
Smoltz: "Scrubbs just hasn't had much tonight. and that's a bad thing when the Dodgers have brought their home run bats. All of their homers have been hit on the button, and this one is no exception. Is that three home runs for the Dodgers tonight?"
Buck: "Three for the Dodgers and four overall."
Bielak replaced Scrubbs, but his first act was to walk Barnes on four pitches. He got the next three outs on a string of force plays, as reliever Victor Gonzalez forced Barnes, Betts forced Gonzalez, and Seager forced Betts. The Dodgers have added a pair on Pederson's second homer of the night, and after five their lead over the Astros is now 9-6.
Astros 6th: Josh Reddick (batting for Bielak) struck out swinging, Springer grounded to first, and Altuve bounced to short. It's still 9-6 Dodgers after five and a half,
Dodgers 6th: With one out, Muncy faced new Astros pitcher Blake Taylor. Here's Joe with the count no balls and a strike:
"Just a reminder of how this series will work: The Dodgers are the home team tomorrow night, and the game will be played with hitting pitchers. After a day off on Thursday, the Astros become the home team for the next three days, and the designated hitter will be used. Then another day off on Monday, and the Dodgers will again be the home team for Games 6 and 7 with hitting pitchers. If you're confused, don't worry; we'll let you know what's going on as we get to each stage of the series. Pitch to Muncy is HIT HIGH AND DEEP TO RIGHT! BACK IS TUCKER, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, AND ANOTHER HOME RUN FOR THE DODGERS!......That's four on the night and a 10-6 Los Angeles lead here in the sixth."
Smoltz: "This pitch was right where Taylor and Maldonado wanted it, but Muncy went down and got it, and then he drove it over that short wall in right. That's five home runs by my count, and the Dodgers have four. This series could very well be a home run derby before all's said and done,"
Bellinger grounded to first for the second out, but Taylor kept the inning alive with a single to left center. Pederson struck out swinging to retire the side, The Dodgers have added a run on Muncy's dinger, and they lead the Astros 10-6 after six.
This inning also provided our Defensive Play of the Night. Turner's leading off, and here's Joe:
"Bouncer to second, stopped by Altuve, he throws from his knees AND GETS TURNER AT FIRST! WHAT A THROW BY ALTUVE!......That's why he's one of the best in the business. Here's Muncy with one out."
Astros 7th: Brantley led off with a double to center, but held at second on Bregman's bouncer to third. Correa's single up the middle put runners at the corners, and Tucker lifted a fly ball to deep right that Betts caught in foul territory. Brantley came home easily, and the Astros were within 10-7. Gurriel also flew to right, but Betts snagged this one in fair territory to end the inning. The Stros have managed a run on two hits and a sacrifice fly, and at stretch time in Game 1, it's Pacific Ocean 10, Gulf of Mexico 7.
Dodgers 7th: Barnes drew a leadoff walk and was bunted over to second by reliever Blake Treinen, He was stranded there, as Betts' fly to shallow left center was cauht by Springer and Seager's line drive was speared by Gurriel to retire the side. After seven, it's still the Bums by a field goal.
Astros 8th: Maldonado drew a leadoff walk. Aledmys Diaz batted for Taylor and grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Springer and Altuve drew back-to-back walks, and Roberts called on closer Kenley Jansen to face Brantley, who represented the tying run. Jansen won the battle by striking Brantley out swinging on three pitches, and the Stros had come up empty while leaving runners at first and second. After seven and a half, they trail the Dodgers by three.
Dodgers 8th: Baker called on his own closer, Ryan Pressly, to keep the Astros close. But Turner drew a leadoff four-pitch walk, and after Muncy took a called third strike Bellinger also walked to put two men on. Roberts sent Kike Hernandez to the plate to bat for Taylor, and here's Joe with the count one ball and no strikes:
"Taylor was one for three with a run scored tonight, Hernandez is a hot bat off the bench for the Dodgers; he had four hits in the NLCS, including a game-tying homer in the bottom of the sixth in Game 7, which the Dodgers later won thanks to Bellinger's homer in the seventh. To show you how exhausted the pitching staffs are, there have been fifteen walks in this game so far; the Astros have eight, the Dodgers have seven. And it only figures to get worse as this series goes on, so buckle your seat belts, folks. HERNANDEZ WITH A FLY BALL TO LEFT CENTER! BACK IS SPRINGER, AT THE TRACK, AT THE WALL, AND HE'S DONE IT AGAIN!..........A three-run pinch-hit homer for Kike Hernandez , and it's now 13-7 Los Angeles here in the eighth."
Smoltz: "The Astros bullpen has been awful tonight, and Greinke's start was just adequate, not that much more. If Dusty doesn't find some effective pitching out of his staff, the Dodgers are going to slug them to death. That's five home runs the Astros have given up tonight, and all of them have been hit hard. They had to pitch in back-to-back extra inning games against Minnesota in the ALCS, so that could be another problem. Regardless, they need to pitch better to have a chance in this series."
Pederson and Will Smith (batting for Barnes) each flew to right to retire the side. But Hernandez's three-run homer has increased the LA lead to 13-7 as Jansen awaits Bregman, Correa, and Tucker in the top of the ninth.
Astros 9th: Correa singled to left center with one out but was forced by Tucker. Gurriel's popup was caught by Seager at short to end the game. Final score: Dodgers 13, Astros 7, and the Dodgers lead the best-of-seven series one game to none.
Pederson's two-homer game was enough to earn him Player of the Game honors from Fox, He finished two for five with two home runs and three RBIs. Correa was three for four with a run scored for the Astros in a losing cause.
Final totals: Dodgers 13-12-0, Astros 7-10-0.
W- Gonzalez (1-0)
S- Jansen (1)
L- Greinke (0-1)
HR- HOU: Greinke (1)
LAD: Pederson 2 (2), Bellinger (1), Muncy (1), Hernandez (1)
Game 2 of the series will take place tomorrow night here at Globe Life Field. First pitch is scheduled for shortly after 8PM, with Framber Valdez pitching for the Astros and Tony Gonsolin starting for the Dodgers.
Next: We look at Game 2.