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Difficult decisions await skippers on WS stage

MLB.com @RichardJustice

HOUSTON -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts faces two decisions as the Fall Classic shifts to Minute Maid Park for Game 3. His first is no decision at all. If the Dodgers have a lead in the ninth inning, closer Kenley Jansen will get the baseball again.

That's the easy one.

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HOUSTON -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts faces two decisions as the Fall Classic shifts to Minute Maid Park for Game 3. His first is no decision at all. If the Dodgers have a lead in the ninth inning, closer Kenley Jansen will get the baseball again.

That's the easy one.

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"I'll take Kenley any day of the week with a one-run lead going into the ninth inning," Roberts said Thursday.

Gear up for the World Series: Astros | Dodgers

Jansen blew his first save of the postseason when Marwin Gonzalez hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning on Wednesday in Game 2 of the World Series.

Plenty happened after that, but the Astros ended up winning 7-6 in 11 innings. The Dodgers had been 98-0 when leading after eight innings. Roberts was concerned enough with his closer's confidence on Wednesday night to check and make sure he was in the right frame of mind.

"It doesn't happen very often that a game is blown when he takes the baseball," Roberts said.

"So I just wanted to come back, circle back with him, make sure he was in a good state of mind, which he was. And it's baseball, things like that happen. But he was obviously disappointed but prepared for tomorrow."

With the World Series shifting to Texas for Games 3, 4 and 5, it'll be business as usual for the Dodgers' bullpen. But that's just one of many crucial decisions that Roberts and his counterpart, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, will have to navigate in the days to come.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Roberts on Jansen's rare blown save

The Dodgers worked out at a silent Minute Maid Park on Thursday night. In case you were wondering, the Astros control the music at their ballpark, and silence may have been payback for the soft rock that was played at Dodger Stadium during Houston's workout.

Anyway, Roberts was criticized for pulling starter Rich Hill after four innings, but this is the same move he made during the regular season when the Dodgers won 104 games.

The Twins were the only playoff team to get fewer innings from their starters than the Dodgers. And the Dodgers' bullpen began the day on Wednesday with a 25-inning shutout streak in the postseason.

At this point, the last thing either of these managers is going to do is make a dramatic change.

Now about that designated hitter spot in the lineup.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Roberts discusses DH options for Game 3

That's the change Roberts will make with the World Series in an American League park for three games. He would not commit to a DH on Thursday, saying only that Joc Pederson will be in left field and Austin Barnes will catch against Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr.

Roberts said he would take a deeper dive into the numbers before deciding who to go with at DH. Andre Ethier is one possibility, Charlie Culberson another.

"We'll kind of think through it a little bit more," Roberts said.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Breaking down Dodgers' DH candidates

Meanwhile, Hinch faces a decision of his own in what to do if his team has a ninth-inning lead.

Hinch found himself in the uncomfortable position of denying a TMZ report that he'd been in an "altercation" on Tuesday night after Game 1 at Dodger Stadium. He tackled it the way he'll handle the tough decisions ahead: direct, clear and protective of his players and his organization.

"First off, there was no altercation," Hinch said. "It's a shame I get asked about some nonsense and fabrications and non-stories, and I have to respond to it on a national stage. To reiterate: There was no altercation, and that's as far as I'm going to go. It's ridiculous."

In discussing who might be called upon to protect a late lead, Hinch stood up for his closer, Ken Giles, who has an 8.22 ERA after six postseason appearances, while also saying he'll do what's best for his team. It's possible one of his other late-inning relievers -- Chris Devenski, Will Harris or Joe Musgrove -- could get key late outs if the matchups favor any of them over Giles. We're in this together, Hinch seemed to be saying, Giles included.

Video: WS2017 Gm2: Giles sends game to extras with flyout

"What the playoffs show across the board, from the beginning of the postseason all the way through the World Series, are roles are softly defined," Hinch said. "But I think Ken Giles is going to get another save in this Series.

"I think he's going to get some really big outs. I think when the crowd is standing in this ballpark over the next couple of games, if we can have the lead and he's the right matchup, he's going to get the last out. He's done it awfully well this year.

"And again, I reiterate to you guys, just because somebody has a bad day at work, does not mean that they need to be condemned and sent away. These guys are good players on a national stage and they are competing against the best team in the National League, and for that I'm going to keep putting him in and trusting him."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros