HOUSTON -- Unless the Astros get complete games from Dallas Keuchel in Sunday's pivotal Game 5 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park and from Justin Verlander in Game 6 in Los Angeles, manager A.J. Hinch is going to need someone in his bullpen to step up and get some outs in key situations.
After pulling out a Game 3 victory on Friday when starter-turned-reliever Brad Peacock threw the final 3 2/3 innings without allowing a hit, Hinch turned to his more conventional relievers in Game 4 on Saturday, to disappointing results. The Dodgers tagged Astros relievers for five runs in the ninth inning -- three off closer Ken Giles and two off Joe Musgrove -- to pull even at two games apiece in the World Series with a 6-2 victory at Minute Maid Park.
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"I didn't do my job," said Giles, who entered in the ninth inning of a 1-1 game and allowed the first three batters of the inning to score. "I let the team down. I'm going to be ready to go tomorrow to pick these guys up."
How Hinch pieces together his bullpen from here -- and whether Giles gets another shot to pitch meaningful innings -- remains to be seen, but the manager's most reliable bullpen performers so far in the postseason have been Verlander, Peacock, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh -- all starters used in relief -- as well as Chris Devenski.
"We've got to get 27 outs," Hinch said. "You've got to keep trying to encourage them to do their part and come in and do well. It seems like right now for some of these guys, it's one pitch and things unravel a little bit. That's what happened to Kenny in the ninth. Joe came in and was working his way through the mess that we had. And then one pitch to [Joc Pederson] and then all of a sudden his night's ruined.
"It's Game 5 of the World Series coming up, so I think there won't be any need to press any buttons or let them know how big these outs are. But we've got to get to 27 outs and we're going to keep trying to piece it together."
Giles, who has allowed a run in six of seven postseason outings this year, started the ninth inning by allowing a single to Corey Seager and a walk to Justin Turner before Cody Bellinger put the Dodgers ahead with an RBI double. Pederson's long homer to right off Musgrove four batters later pushed the lead to 6-1.
"I was just trying to get a good pitch," Pederson said. "He has a plus-plus fastball and two outs, just trying to put a ball on the barrel. I had a good feeling. You kind of black out a little bit, but it's a good feeling."
In seven postseason outings this year, covering 7 2/3 innings, Giles has allowed 12 hits, 10 runs, three hits, five walks and three homers. Opponents are hitting .343 against him.
"I believe in them and everybody believes in me," Giles said of his teammates. "I'm going to be ready to go for them. I'm not going to let this team down. I'm going to do what I need to and I just need that one out, and I'm going to get back on track with these guys."
Peacock was unavailable in Game 4, and McHugh's only postseason action has been four scoreless innings in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. Devenski has been solid in the World Series (one run and one hit in 3 1/3 innings), and Hinch has yet to throw veterans Luke Gregerson or Francisco Liriano in the World Series.
"You can draw it out perfectly and map it out, but you never know how the other outcome would have been," Hinch said. "It's easy to say everything you do and it goes wrong. Everybody in baseball thinks that the other way would have been perfectly good, and we don't know. And our jobs are criticized because of outcomes that we already know and outcomes that we assume."