The electricity in the air was special Tuesday night – for good reasons. The most anticipated game of the season finally arrived, one that Dodgers fans circled on their calendars long before opening day.
Payback for a 2017 World Series title Dodgers faithful believe is rightfully theirs.
The history, tension, and bitterness between both teams don’t need to be explained but if there’s any confusion. The two teams slugged it out during the 2017 World Series in a back and forth seven games full of drama and emotion ending with the Houston Astros crowned champs in a very odd and easy game seven victory.
The Dodgers possessed a star-studded cast of pitchers during their run to the World Series. Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, and Kenta Maeda looked mediocre after being dominant the entire season.
It was brought to Major League Baseball’s attention that the Astros illegally used a video camera system to steal pitching signals for their batters.
The Astros knew every single pitch the Dodgers pitchers were throwing… ‘how did they know you ask?’…by banging trash cans – yes trash cans – in specific patterns alarming the batters of which pitch was coming next.
After investigations, the Astros were found guilty of cheating. The franchise was fined $5 million, forfeited their first and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts, and both General Manager Jeff Luhnow and field manager AJ Hinch were suspended for the entire 2020 season.
Fast forward to August 3rd, 2021– the first time fans were able to berate the despised team in Los Angeles.
52,692 fans – the largest attending crowd in Major League Baseball this season were ready to unload their pent-up aggression from a ‘robbed’ 2017 World Series title.
The energy levels were high before the first pitch. Carlos Correa, a key figure on the 2017 World Series Astros, took the field for warm-ups greeted with a sea of boos. Shortly after Jose Altuve jogged onto the field for his warm-ups met with chants of “Cheaters!” and “Altuve Sucks!”.
Inflatable trash cans were tossed on the field so often that the Dodgers public address announcer pleaded with fans to ‘refrain from throwing objects on the field or be subject to ejection from the stadium’.
“The emotion is warranted and there’s not a whole lot we’re going to do to change that,” said Walker Buehler with a smirk ending his press conference.
Top of the third, Houston’s Michael Brantley doubled scoring Martin Maldonaldo for a 1-0 lead, the only mistake in the game pitcher Walker Buehler allowed. Buehler threw 113 pitches in 5 innings tallying five strikeouts and one run allowed.
“That’s a good team no matter how emotional of a game it is,” said Walker Buehler giving credit to the Astros ballclub.
Astros pitcher Lance McCullers was just simply better. Striking out nine Dodgers in 6 ⅔ scoreless innings.
“His ball was moving a lot. He was throwing really hard and making pitches. We had our chances and didn’t capitalize,” said Will Smith on McCullers dominance over the defending champs.
Through seven innings the Dodgers were down, but not out of the fight. All hope deflated from the stadium once 24-year-old Yordan Alvarez smacked a two-run blast to right field for a comfortable 3-0 lead.
This wasn’t the result the Dodgers and the fans wanted, especially on their home turf but credit to the Astros they silenced the boo’s…for now.
“That’s the type of atmosphere you want to play in, that’s postseason baseball,” said Will Smith.
The despised franchise will return Wednesday night for the finale of a two-game series. Max Scherzer will make his first start since being acquired via trade for Los Angeles.