For Dodgers, there's no place like home

Backed by fan base, Los Angeles ready to surge back in Game 3

October 25th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- If this World Series can be reset, the warm California sun is the perfect place to do it. It's not just that the Dodgers have won more regular-season games than any other Major League team the past six seasons. It's not even that they've won more home games and more home postseason games than any other team while winning the National League West six consecutive times.

It's those big, roaring home crowds -- the reason the Dodgers have led the Majors in attendance six consecutive times and are going to have 53,000 fans welcoming them back home to play the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series tonight at Dodger Stadium. The Red Sox lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 with Games 3, 4 and possibly 5 here.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

You're thinking this isn't such a big deal. You're thinking West Coast fans are too laid back to make the kind of noise that can test an opponent's nerves. That's East Coast stuff, right? You'd be wrong about that.

The Astros might have thought that as well last fall in the World Series until they showed up at Dodger Stadium and got the full treatment, including actors Rob Lowe and Ken Jeong standing on the visitor's dugout waving a Dodgers flag, which prompted shortstop to playfully toss a cup of water in their direction.

Gear up for the World Series:Red Sox | Dodgers

Even the lineup is going to look more fearsome for Game 3. In the first two games, the Dodgers scored six runs, recorded one extra-base hit and batted .175. With the Red Sox finally starting a right-hander, , Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts will have his top three home run hitters in the starting lineup for the first time.

Because the Red Sox opened the World Series with a pair of lefties, Chris Sale and , the Dodgers didn't start , and .

World Series Game 3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

Muncy led the Dodgers with 35 home runs, and Bellinger and Pederson were next with 25 apiece. But Bellinger hit .226 against left-handed pitching, Pederson .170.

Muncy had a solid .891 OPS against lefties this season, but he struggled some in the second half. When Los Angeles picked up veteran first baseman , a right-handed hitter, at the end of August, he became part of the platoon.

Roberts understood there'd be some second-guessing, but plenty of his lineup decisions come from a data-driven front office that hasn't pushed many wrong buttons.

"This is something that we've done a lot in September and throughout the postseason," Roberts said, "and it's proved to be successful. But we're going to shuffle it up for Game 3, but it's not necessarily because of performance. It's kind of who the starting pitcher for those guys is. But these are the guys that got us here, and we're going to ride them out."

Here's something else the Dodgers have going for them: rookie right-hander , who has a high-90s fastball and loads of confidence. He was Los Angeles' best pitcher in the closing weeks of the season, compiling a 1.55 ERA during his final 12 starts.

And because the Dodgers haven't won a World Series in this run of six straight NL West titles, there's a deep feeling of unfinished business. After losing Games 1 and 2 of this World Series in Fenway Park thanks to a sea of anxious at-bats and assorted other mistakes, the Dodgers could use a fast start in Game 3 to have something to build on.

What also shouldn't be lost on them is that they're matched against a team having one of the best seasons ever. The Red Sox won their 117th game on Wednesday, which is the fourth-most in history, trailing only the 1998 Yankees (125), 2001 Mariners (120) and 1906 Cubs (118).

But if the Dodgers had their confidence rattled in New England, it didn't show.

"It's going to be warmer," Bellinger said, "and hopefully our bats will get hot, too."