And on Saturday, there is potential for more offense. Charlie Morton, who will start for the Astros, has produced mixed results this postseason, while Alex Wood, the Dodgers’ starter, allowed three runs over four and two-thirds innings in the previous round, his only outing of the postseason.
Even though the Astros played a solid all-around game on Friday night, with good defense and competent starting pitching from Lance McCullers Jr., they also created some controversy. After Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel smashed a home run off Darvish in the second inning, television cameras spotted him smiling and using his hands to stretch the edges of his eyes, as if to mimic Darvish, who is from Japan.
During the regular season, the Astros possessed a uniquely powerful lineup. They led all teams in most major offensive categories: runs scored, batting average, on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
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They were also second in the major leagues in home runs — trailing only the Yankees — and they finished last in strikeouts. They were the third team in the last 100 years to lead in slugging percentage and have the fewest strikeouts. In other words: They were a nightmare for opposing pitching staffs.
They were not perfect on Friday — they left 12 runners on base and could have turned the game into a blowout with another timely hit or two — but they were certainly tough on Darvish.
Entering the game, Darvish had been excellent for the Dodgers in the postseason. Acquired in a midseason trade, he had allowed only one run in 11⅓ playoff innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs.
Against the Astros, however, his pitches seemed flat. He looked uncomfortable on the mound, fidgeting and slowing his pace.