LOS ANGELES -- Ignoring concerns about workload and discarding the struggles that had tripped up a few of his relievers in this World Series, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts turned back to his trusted bullpen blueprint Tuesday.It worked nearly to perfection.:: World Series presented by YouTube TV: Schedule and coverage ::•
LOS ANGELES -- Ignoring concerns about workload and discarding the struggles that had tripped up a few of his relievers in this World Series, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts turned back to his trusted bullpen blueprint Tuesday.
It worked nearly to perfection.
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Beginning with Brandon Morrow, the Dodgers ran out four relievers who held the Astros hitless with runners in scoring position over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Their efforts sealed a 3-1 win for Los Angeles, and their efficiency set up Roberts to have every one of them available again for Game 7 on Wednesday.
"There's a certain exhaustion point that you almost earn by getting this far," said lefty Tony Watson, who hasn't given up a run in five World Series appearances. "You just relish it. There are only two teams that get to feel this, to play this far and lay it all out there. Put fatigue out the door, and just go out there and have fun and play in Game 6 of the World Series."
The Dodgers' bullpen, so steady all season, came into Game 6 limping. Over the past four games, it had surrendered 15 runs (14 earned) on 28 hits in 21 2/3 innings. That included seven runs in a Game 5 defeat.
The collective ask had been heavy, and no one had felt it more than Morrow. After regretting his decision to talk his way into appearing in Game 5, the right-hander took Monday to reset. The most strenuous activity he did was take a walk with his family.
A day later, Morrow became the fourth pitcher in World Series history -- and the first since the Giants' Felix Rodriguez in 2002 -- to appear in a sixth straight World Series game. Relieving Rich Hill with a pair of runners in scoring position and two out in the fifth, Morrow induced a groundout to end the threat.
He retired two batters in the sixth, as well.
"I know that the off-day did him well, and talking to him he felt good and wanted the baseball again," Roberts said. "I think at this point in time in the season, I think it's really, speaking for our guys, it's not about the workload. Every guy on our staff wants the baseball. And this is what they train for. This is what guys live for. So to see Brandon respond the way he did, I'm not surprised and obviously [I'm] very encouraged."
If he pitches again Wednesday, Morrow will join Darold Knowles as the only pitchers to appear seven times in a single World Series. Knowles covered 6 1/3 innings for the A's in the 1973 Fall Classic. Morrow has so far logged five.
"I've been willing and able to get in there every time. That's going to continue," Morrow said. "It's just great to contribute. Of course, it is [hard physically]. We're about to play a game in November. I've never done that before. But just the excitement and adrenaline you feel, everybody is pulling for each other and wants to step up for your teammates."
Morrow was the first of three consecutive L.A. relievers to close out innings by stranding at least two runners. Watson helped bail out Morrow in the sixth by getting Marwin Gonzalez to line out. An inning later, Kenta Maeda induced a ground ball from Jose Altuve to end the frame.
Then, despite stating pregame that he planned to use Kenley Jansen for only three outs Tuesday, Roberts deployed his closer in the eighth. Jansen retired all six batters he faced and struck out three.
"It doesn't matter how they score runs on us and all the stuff that happened in the past," Jansen said. "The great thing about this bullpen is that we ... don't think about it and keep believing in yourself. And we know we're in front of our fans, and we just want to go out there and try to win ballgames."
With two more relief appearances in Game 7, the Dodgers will tie the 2011 Cardinals, who tallied 30, for the most in a World Series. And if a starter doesn't get the win -- which is a real possibility given that neither manager is likely to give his starter much leeway -- this will be the first seven-game series in Fall Classic history in which starting pitchers recorded just two wins (Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 and Lance McCullers in Game 3). A seven-game World Series has seen starters get three wins six times (2011, '02, 1979, '75, '72, '47).
Roberts will have even more relievers at his disposal, too. The strong work by the 'pen Tuesday allowed Roberts to stay away from utilizing Kershaw and fellow starter Alex Wood. Both will be ready in Game 7. And so will his other eight relievers, given the efficiency shown in Game 6.
Watson threw 12 pitches. Morrow and Maeda needed 14 apiece. Jansen notched his second career six-out save on 19.
"It'll be exciting," Watson said. "It's one of those games where it's win or go home, and win and go home. We'll have everybody ready. All hands on deck."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.