HOUSTON -- Having snatched away home-field advantage in the World Series by outlasting the Dodgers in Wednesday's epic 7-6, 11-inning Game 2 win at Dodger Stadium, the Astros hope they won't have to make a return trip to Los Angeles to win their first Fall Classic championship.
A high-energy crowd is set to greet the Astros tonight at Minute Maid Park, where the retractable roof will be closed once again and the building will be loud. The Astros are 6-0 at home in the postseason, and if they can win three straight at home -- beginning with tonight's Game 3 -- they would finish off the World Series.
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"We're happy to be playing in front of our home fans," third baseman Alex Bregman said. "And there's something special when we play at Minute Maid Park in front of Houston people."
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Of the previous 58 times the World Series has been tied at one game apiece, the team winning Game 3 has won the championship 37 times (63.8 percent). The home team, though, has won Game 3 just 26 times (44.8 percent), including only three times in the past 11 such occasions.
The Astros have outscored their opponents by a lopsided 31-7 margin in their six home playoff games -- two against the Red Sox in the AL Division Series, and four against the Yankees in the AL Championship Series. Houston held New York to three runs in four games at Minute Maid.
Astros pitchers have held the opposition to a .182 batting average with two homers at home in the postseason, and they've struck out 65 batters in 54 innings. The Astros have fed off the energy of the crowd, which figures to be electric tonight with the club having won its first World Series game on Wednesday in dramatic fashion.
"It's quite an environment, when we play under the roof, our fans get going," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was one of the loudest stadiums the last series; I expect it to be the same. It is a great environment at home. I think that's what makes people feel good. We're coming off one of the most epic baseball games in any of our careers, probably for you guys [reporters], too. So that feels good. It will feel good right up to first pitch, and then it will be a new game. So I think our guys are ready."
The Astros said the roof would be closed for Game 3 because there's a slight chance of rain in the forecast tonight. There's no word yet on Game 4 on Saturday night and Game 5 on Sunday night, but record low temperatures in the 40s at night could mean the roof could be closed for those games as well. The players are steadfast in their support for the roof being closed.
"That's how we play most of the games here," said pitcher Lance McCullers, who will start Game 3. "We're very used to it. I definitely think it's part of our home-field advantage. We play like 60 or more like that, so we're very accustomed to it, which is, I think, why a lot of the guys want it to stay the same."
Before finishing his session in the interview room Thursday at Minute Maid Park, Bregman leaned into the microphone and said "Close the roof." And then he got up and walked out the door.