LOS ANGELES -- If the Dodgers are going to jump-start an offense that has scored six runs and collected one extra-base hit in two World Series games, here's how they're likely to do it:Manager Dave Roberts will put his top three home run hitters -- Player Page for Max Muncy,
LOS ANGELES -- If the Dodgers are going to jump-start an offense that has scored six runs and collected one extra-base hit in two World Series games, here's how they're likely to do it:
Manager Dave Roberts will put his top three home run hitters -- Player Page for Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson -- back in his starting lineup for Game 3 tonight at Dodger Stadium. All are left-handed hitters who have struggled against left-handed pitching.
:: World Series schedule and results ::
With the Red Sox starting lefties in Games 1 and 2 (Chris Sale and David Price), Roberts stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters. But with Boston starting righties Rick Porcello and potentially Nathan Eovaldi in Games 3 and 4, the Dodgers' offense will have a different look.
Because there's no designated hitter in National League parks, Roberts will have an extra bench player to allow him the freedom to play more matchups late in games. Roberts declined to pinch-hit for David Freese in the fifth inning of Game 2 because he didn't want to empty his bench so early in a game. As it turned out, Roberts used all of them by the seventh.
• Here's how Dodgers can turn Series around
Finally, this last part isn't quantifiable, but that doesn't mean it's not real. Roberts saw a team at less than its offensive best in Games 1 and 2. Back in the warm weather of Southern California and with 53,000 fans cheering for them, the Dodgers may just get back into their comfort zone.
Now about Games 1 and 2. Roberts answers the questions about his lineups in the most Dave Roberts way possible. That is, politely and thoughtfully. Even if he has been frustrated, he would not show it. Not his style.
• World Series Game 3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs
Roberts has been second-guessed for filling out two World Series lineup cards without Muncy, Bellinger and Pederson.
Is that why the Dodgers scored six runs, collected one extra-base hit and batted .175, while falling into an 0-2 hole entering Game 3?
Roberts is filling out his lineup cards exactly the same way he did down the stretch when the Dodgers led the NL in runs the last two months of the regular season.
He began benching Muncy, Bellinger and Pederson against left-handed pitching because they all struggled in those situations. Once infielder Freese arrived on Aug. 31, he gave Roberts another right-handed option.
After Freese's arrival, they were second in the NL with an .825 OPS against left-handed pitching.
But the Dodgers have been shut down thanks to a combination of some very solid Red Sox pitching and some Los Angeles hitters who haven't been at their best.
To suggest Roberts should go away from the very thing that has gotten the Dodgers into a second straight World Series is silly.
"So against left-handed pitching, I think I recall in September, we led the National League in production," Roberts said. "We're not swinging the bats as far as the right-handers right now against the lefty lineup. [On Friday] you'll see a different lineup."
Roberts has been quick to credit the Red Sox's starters, especially Price in Game 2, with pitching a solid game.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the top of the fourth inning and were held to two runs. After that, Red Sox pitchers retired the final 16 hitters in order.
"I would say that looking back at the game and the video, just [Red Sox reliever] Joe Kelly in particular was making really good pitches," Roberts said. "And then you've got two innings of Craig Kimbrel and two innings of Nathan Eovaldi [an inning apiece in the first two games]. So you've got stuff. You've got being down. You've got unfamiliarity. So there's a lot of things that lead into why we aren't getting hits against those guys.
"So I do think that the more you see a guy, the better opportunity you get. Our guys are gathering information. We've got to do our best to get on the starter tomorrow. We expect Walker [Buehler] to go out there and pitch well, and keep us in the game. And offensively, we've got to go out there and get a lead."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.