WORLD SERIES GAME 3

McCullers, Peacock combine for 5-3 win; Astros lead series 2-1

Yuli Gurriel had a big night for the Astros. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Astros returned home to Minute Maid Park and took advantage of an early offensive explosion to edge out the Dodgers in Game 3 and take a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

Yuli Gurriel homered, followed by RBIs from Marwin Gonzalez, Brian McCann, and Alex Bregman as the Astros jump all over Yu Darvish in the second inning, ending his night early and riding the early lead to a 5-3 victory in World Series Game 3. Lance McCullers pitched a decent start and was followed by Brad Peacock who finished with a strong three and two-thirds inning relief appearance to seal the win.

McCullers started Game 3 with a pop out of Chris Taylor for the first out of the game. McCullers got the next two batters on a groundout and long flyout near the wall in center field by Justin Turner. George Springer led off the bottom of the inning with a double to right-center off of Yu Darvish but was unable to score as Darvish fought back to retire the next three Astros in order to end the scoreless inning.

The big inning was the second. Logan Forsythe recorded the first hit for the Dodgers in the top of the second with a two-out single but was stranded as Lance McCullers got a groundout to end the half inning. Gurriel gave the Astros the lead in the bottom of the inning, putting the first run on the board with a solo home run to the Crawford Boxes off of Darvish, making it 1-0 Houston. Josh Reddick followed with a double into the left-field corner, followed by a walk to Evan Gattis, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Gonzalez added to the Astros' lead with an RBI single off the left-center wall, making it a 2-0 game. McCann was next up and added another no-out run, hitting a single into right-center to make it 3-0. Bregman added one more, scoring Gonzalez from third on a one-out sac fly, extending the lead again to 4-0. Jose Altuve was the eighth batter of the inning and hit a two-out double to put runners on second and third, and prompted a call to the bullpen to end Darvish's brief, rough night. Kenta Maeda entered the game for the Dodgers and was able to get the third out to end the four-run inning.

McCullers struggled to start the top of the third, walking the first three batters to load the bases with no outs. He battled back from it, though, getting a double play which scored a run to make it a 4-1 game, then a groundout for the third out to get out of the jam with just one run. Kenta Maeda worked around a two-out walk of Gattis in the bottom of the inning to end the inning and send the game to the fourth.

In the top of the fourth, McCullers rebounded from the rough third inning to get a quick half inning thanks to Yasiel Puig being thrown out at second trying to advance after a single got past Bregman into left field. Maeda allowed a leadoff single to McCann in the bottom half but then retired the next three in order to end the inning.

McCullers allowed a one-out double to Joc Pederson in the top of the fifth but was able to strand him after some stellar defense behind him to get the next two outs. Maeda got the leadoff out in the bottom of the inning, then was pulled as the Dodgers moved on to Tony Watson from the bullpen. Reddick hit a two-out single, then came all the way around to score as Watson made an errant throw to first on a ground ball from Gattis, extending the Astros' lead to 5-1 before Watson was able to end the inning.

In the top of the sixth, Lance McCullers allowed a leadoff walk to Corey Seager who then moved to third on a no-out double by Justin Turner. McCullers struck out the next batter before A.J. Hinch made the call to the bullpen to bring out Brad Peacock. Peacock allowed a run to score on a groundout for the second out, then another to score on a wild pitch, making it a 5-3 game before Peacock could end the half inning. Tony Watson recorded the first out of the bottom of the inning before the Dodgers went to their bullpen again, this time for Brandon Morrow. Morrow ended up with runners on first and second with one out after an error by Justin Turner and walk to Bregman, but was able to leave them there by getting back-to-back strikeouts of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to leave the game at 5-3 going into the seventh.

Peacock returned to the mound for the top of the seventh and worked around a two-out walk of Andre Ethier to get through the half inning and preserve the 5-3 lead. Gurriel led off the bottom of the inning with a double off the scoreboard wall, prompting another pitching change for Los Angeles, bringing in Tony Cingrani. Cingrani was able to get two outs around an intentional walk of Gattis before McCann reached on an infield single to load the bases with two outs, resulting in yet another call to the Dodgers' bullpen, this time to bring out Ross Stripling, who was able to get Springer to fly out to the center field wall to end the inning.

Peacock pitched his best inning to that point in the top of the eighth, getting a 1-2-3 inning including two strikeouts to put the Astros 3 outs away from the win. Ross Stripling was able to work around a two-out single by Correa in the bottom of the inning to send the 5-3 game to the ninth inning.

A.J. Hinch, much like in Game 7 of the ALCS, allowed the hot hand to stay in the game, sending Peacock back out for the top of the ninth. It proved to be the right call as Peacock sat down the Dodgers in order to wrap up the Game 3 win.

Game 4: First pitch of Game 4 from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 7:20 PM Central tonight and can be seen on FOX. The Astros will send Charlie Morton to the mound who had an amazing start in Game 7 of the ALCS giving up just two hits and no runs in five innings of work. The Dodgers are likely to send out Alex Wood who despite a terrific 16-3 regular season has only made one playoff start in which he went four and two-thirds innings while giving up 3 runs in a 3-2 loss to the Cubs in the NLDS.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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