When facing Astros, LA's focus remains same
Dodgers say World Series opponent won't change game plan
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have had their eyes on the prize since the first day of Spring Training and the outcome of Saturday night's American League Championship Series finale, won by the Houston Astros, didn't change a thing.
"It doesn't matter," texted closer Kenley Jansen. "We've been talking about our goal we wanted to accomplish all year long. We've got to beat the best to win a World Series .. and they are the best of the American League."
:: World Series schedule and coverage ::
The Dodgers open the 2017 World Series presented by YouTube TV tonight at Dodger Stadium against the Astros, the first time since 1970 that 100-win clubs face off in the Fall Classic (104 for the Dodgers, 101 for the Astros). Back in '70, the Orioles (108-54) beat the Reds (102-60) for the title.
The Dodgers, once in the same league and division as the Astros, last played them in 2015 and were swept in a three-game series in Houston. They've met only once in the postseason, in the 1981 best-of-five Division Series necessitated by the strike. The Dodgers took the winner-take-all Game 5 when Jerry Reuss threw a five-hit shutout to beat Nolan Ryan, who is now executive advisor to Astros owner Jim Crane. A year prior, the Astros and Dodgers battled for the National League West crown until the bitter end and were tied after 162 games. Houston won game 163 to win the 1980 NL West crown.
• Dress for the World Series: Get Dodgers postseason gear
The managers of the two clubs have a strong connection, as Houston's A.J. Hinch was vice president of scouting for the Padres for five years while Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was first in the San Diego front office, then on the coaching staff.
"He's one of my best friends in the game," Roberts said. "We had breakfast in January and we talked about maybe meeting in the World Series. It's amazing how things work out."
What challenges do the Astros present to a Dodgers pitching staff that held the Cubs to a .156 team average and .491 OPS in the NLCS presented by Camping World, after the Cubs finished first in the regular season in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging percentage?
"Power, speed, very balanced with a lot of youth," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said of the Astros, who were first in the American League this year in slugging and on-base percentage.
Roberts said one obvious key is keeping Astros three-time batting champ Jose Altuve off base, not that anyone's done a good job of that in recent years.
"He's an MVP-type player," Roberts said. "He can beat you in so many different ways. He's such a good hitter, with power, can steal a base, can play defense. That will be the goal, keep him off base."
Roberts said the Astros reflect Altuve's multi-dimensional threat.
"They are a talented group, the best in the American League all year," he said. "The starting pitching, with their one-two combo [Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel]. They've got very talented athletes, they can slug you and they can pitch. They are the class of the American League."