LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers lost 11 straight and 16 of 17 in the late stages of the season, their best record in baseball was in jeopardy and, along with it because of a rule change, the home-field advantage for the World Series.They held on for a three-game edge
LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers lost 11 straight and 16 of 17 in the late stages of the season, their best record in baseball was in jeopardy and, along with it because of a rule change, the home-field advantage for the World Series.
They held on for a three-game edge over the Astros, and if the Dodgers can win the next two games at home and pull off their first World Series title in 29 years, that home-field advantage just might prove to be the difference.
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After being the first manager to benefit from the change that decides home field, Dave Roberts said managers will place a greater emphasis on securing it down the stretch in future seasons.
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"I do. And I think that you look at us and having the DH, playing at a place that we haven't -- guys haven't spent much time at Minute Maid," Roberts said. "But there's an advantage, you look at the Astros, and you look at us in the postseason. And we knew it was important for us to get home-field advantage. And this is why we played 162 games like we did, for the opportunity to be at home and win two games. So it is a premium and for us it is definitely understated."
Justin Turner agrees with the manager, and not just because of the DH or ballpark configuration or decibel level of hometown fans.
"I think being able to have the last at-bat in this Series is going to be important, as you saw in that game [Sunday] night," said Turner, who will return to third base after being the designated hitter in Game 5 to rest a bruised left calf. "Even with the skid, trying to nail down home-field advantage is something we talked about and wanted to do and obviously we like our position a lot better down 3-2 playing at home than if we were heading to Houston today."
Turner also said he expects fewer home runs with a change in Los Angeles' weather over the past week. The first-pitch temperatures for Games 1 and 2 were 103 degrees and 93 degrees. The forecast for first pitch on Tuesday is 63.
"I will say that might be a little bit different game [Tuesday] night, a little bit different weather, a lot cooler than it was the first two games, and it might be a different ballgame than you've seen the first five games," he said.
Roberts on Kapler hiring by Phillies
Roberts praised Gabe Kapler, the Dodgers' director of player development who was hired Monday to manage the Phillies.
"I'm obviously very excited for Gabe, and I think he'll do a great job with that young group of players, a very talented group," said Roberts. "But as far as with respect to our farm system and the culture that he's kind of instilled with the teaching, a lot of -- he's really impacted the guys that are with us right now.
"It takes all of us, the farm system, baseball ops, scouting and obviously the Major League staff to accomplish what we've accomplished, but Gabe and his staff have been a huge part of what we have this year."
Kapler is a longtime protégé of Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Nearly every pitcher available
Roberts said all hands are on deck to pitch in Game 6 except Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw. Darvish is held back because he would start Game 7 on Wednesday if the Dodgers extend the Series. Kershaw threw 94 pitches while getting hit hard in Game 5, lasting only 4 2/3 innings. It should be noted, however, that Tuesday would be the day Kershaw would ordinarily throw a bullpen session between starts, so a brief relief appearance wouldn't be shocking.
Alex Wood, who had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings as the Game 4 starter, would seem to be the freshest and most effective pitcher available to Roberts. Wood opened the season in the bullpen and earned his way back into the rotation. Reliever Brandon Morrow has been used every game, lost three mph off his fastball and allowed two homers in Game 5. Kenta Maeda allowed a three-run homer after pitching lights-out through the postseason in a new role. Closer Kenley Jansen, fatigued from the cumulative effect of 15 multi-inning appearances this year, has already allowed two homers in the World Series after allowing only five through the regular season.
Roberts has not used Josh Fields or Brandon McCarthy since they were hit hard in the Game 2 loss.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.