LOS ANGELES — Breaking down Game 1 of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium:
Dodgers 3, Astros 1: Dodgers lead series, 1-0.
The game: This is exactly what makes the Fall Classic classic.
Justin Turner broke up a pitching duel between a pair of Cy Young Award winning lefties with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to lift the Dodgers to victory in the opener of the 113th World Series.
"I didn't know if it was going to be a home run or not. I knew I back spun it pretty good. I knew I hit it really high," Turner said.
With the temperature at first pitch a World Series record 103 degrees, home runs figured to be an important weapon for both offenses.
"When it's that hot here, the ball does travel a lot better," he said. "If it's 10 degrees cooler, that's probably a routine fly ball in left field."
All four runs in the game came as a result of homers off starters Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel.
After Kershaw departed, the Dodgers bullpen was masterful once again, with Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen holding the Astros scoreless over the final two innings. In this postseason, Dodger relievers have pitched 30 2/3 innings and have given up three earned runs (0.88 ERA).
And the Dodgers wrapped it up in 2 hours, 28 minutes -- fastest game since Game 4 of the 1992 Fall Classic.
Game 1 pivot point: Keuchel was cruising along through the first five innings. The only mistake on his ledger was a first-pitch, leadoff home run to Chris Taylor. Keeping the ball down in the strike zone, he got 11 of the first 17 outs on ground balls.
After getting the first two batters in the sixth, Keuchel issued his first walk of the game – to Taylor.
"It proved costly, but by no means was I trying to pitch around him," Keuchel said. "He’s had some good success so far in this postseason so I was being careful with him. But I wasn’t trying to pitch around him."
That walk came back to haunt him when he left a cut fastball up and on the inside part of the plate to Turner.
Turner turned on it – and with a little assist from the hot Dodger Stadium air, deposited it into the seats in left center to put L.A. up 3-1.
Men of the moment: Kershaw has done his best this year to silence critics who say he can’t deliver in the postseason.
In his first World Series appearance, he pitched seven strong innings and allowed one run on three hits– a solo homer by Astros third baseman Alex Bregman – while striking out 11. He won for the third time in four starts this postseason.
"Tonight was one of those nights I think the first time in a while, where we've seen all three of his pitches synced up," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "For him to get ahead, keep them off balance, work them from front to back, up and down, to all quadrants. This was a special night to Clayton."
Turner also came up big in his first World Series game. The co-MVP of the NL Championship Series, Turner drove in two more runs, giving him a franchise record 14 this postseason.
Those RBI give him 26 in his career, tying him with Duke Snider for the most in Dodgers postseason history.
Needing a mulligan: Keuchel would probably love to have back the 88 mph get-me-over fastball he threw Taylor on the first pitch of the game.
Taylor clobbered it 447 feet into the left field bleachers before many of the 54,253 fans at Dodger Stadium had settled into their seats.
Manager's special: The game was such a well-pitched game by both sides that the two managers never really had to make any tough decisions. Perhaps the best move came before the game when A.J. Hinch of the Astros slotted Bregman in the No. 2 spot in the order. He slugged .570 against left-handed pitchers during the regular season, and accounted for the Astros’ only run of the night.
State of the Series: The Dodgers will look to keep their home record in the playoff perfect in Game 2 when they send left-hander Rich Hill (1-1, 3.46 ERA in postseason) to the mound against ALCS Most Valuable Player Justin Verlander (4-0, 1.46).
“You're experienced and you understand throughout the course of your career how to draw upon those experiences when you get to this point,” Hill said before Game 1. “It's not about changing your game plan, it's not about going too far away from what has made you successful.”
Meanwhile, Verlander has been masterful in the postseason, winning all three of his starts and even picking up another victory in relief.
“I think the mental focus is just another level,” Verlander said. “I think it's something that would be easy to say, why don't you just do that every game? It's unsustainable throughout the course of the regular season. If you were that mentally focused, you'd just burn out. It's just another level. I don't know how to really explain it.
What you missed on TV: The Dodgers paid tribute to the memory of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson before the game with his widow Rachel, son David and daughter Sharon throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Robinson, who first broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, has his jersey number 42 retired by all 30 MLB clubs.
For the star-watchers, there were plenty of celebrities in attendance for the first World Series game at Dodger Stadium since 1988. As part of the pregame activities, actors George Lopez, Mario Lopez, Ken Jeong and Rob Lowe whipped the crowd into a frenzy by waving huge Dodgers flags from atop the two dugouts.
And outfielder Joc Pederson’s younger brother Champ signaled the start of the game with the traditional phrase made famous by legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”
Champ, who has Down Syndrome, is a fan favorite at Dodger Stadium.
Steve Gardner, USA Today