LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Dodgers played a World Series Game 7, Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts on two days' rest to best the Twins on the road in 1965. That's not happening on Wednesday, and not just because Koufax is 81 and sitting
LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Dodgers played a World Series Game 7, Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts on two days' rest to best the Twins on the road in 1965. That's not happening on Wednesday, and not just because Koufax is 81 and sitting in the front row of the owners' box.
But the first World Series Game 7 in Dodger Stadium history will take place because Los Angeles came off the mat and beat the Astros on Tuesday night, 3-1. Thanks to the analytics department, here are some factoids to boost the confidence of Dodgers fans.
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• Since 1985, when the League Championship Series expanded to seven games, this is the 17th time in a best-of-seven series that the home team staved off elimination in Game 6. Of those previous 16 teams, 14 also won Game 7 at home. This will be the 39th winner-take-all game in World Series history, including a Game 8 in 1912, when a Game 2 tie extended the Series. Home teams have only broken even in those previous 38 games, going 19-19. However, home teams won nine straight World Series Game 7s from 1982-2011, before the 2014 Royals lost to the Giants in Kansas City, and last year's Indians lost to the Cubs in Cleveland. Also since 1985, home teams are 19-7 in all Game 7s (LCS or World Series).
• Los Angeles is now 6-1 at home this postseason. A Game 7 victory would make it the eighth team to win seven home games in a single postseason, joining Houston (8-1). Home teams are now 27-10 (.730) this postseason, smashing the previous record for wins (23) and posting the best record since 1987 (15-4, .789). And the Dodgers had the best home record this year (63-25, including postseason), so their confidence couldn't be higher after the Game 6 comeback win.
"Two incredible teams trying to get to the finish line," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
Of course, just to balance out the scales came these harsh words of reality from 90-year-old Hall of Famer -- and two-time World Series-winning manager -- Tommy Lasorda to current manager Dave Roberts:
"You haven't done [bleep] until you win tomorrow."
OK, then. As if Roberts needed added incentive, as Lasorda used Orel Hershiser out of the bullpen in the 1988 postseason, L.A. had starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood in the bullpen and ready for duty for Game 6, and they will also be ready for Game 7.
How much does Kershaw think he can pitch on two days' rest?
"I can give 27 innings. Whatever they need," he said.
Yes, this Game 7 is serious stuff, especially for a franchise that hasn't won a World Series in 29 years.
But it wouldn't have happened if the Dodgers hadn't resorted back to their grinding pass-the-baton style of offense that put together the go-ahead rally in the bottom of the sixth inning against Justin Verlander, who finally started falling behind batters after five innings of one-hit ball. He fell behind Austin Barnes, who lined a 2-0 fastball to left field for a single. Verlander threw a first-pitch ball to Chase Utley before hitting him on the leg with a 1-2 slider. Verlander was ahead in the count, 1-2, on Chris Taylor when he lined an RBI double to right and on Corey Seager when he lifted a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning.
"It wasn't going to be easy, that's for sure," Barnes said. "It was hard to get some runners on for a while. Chase had a big AB to get on base when he could. Chris Taylor came up big for us and scratched that across and Seager with the sac fly was huge."
Joc Pederson went the opposite way for an insurance solo homer an inning later.
The bullpen that was torched in Game 5 rebounded with 4 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 6. A remarkable rebound from what could have been a crushing, demoralizing, devastating 13-12 walk-off loss in Game 5.
"It's just the whole year we talked about winning a championship and having a goal to win a championship," said Kenley Jansen, the Game 5 loser and Game 6 savior. "We all got to believe. To see my teammates and everybody, we didn't feel sorry for ourselves and we all believed."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.