LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a game dripping with World Series nostalgia, not everybody was willing to embrace the symbolism Friday after the Houston Astros earned a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Justin Verlander struck out 14 Dodgers and George Springer brought home two runs on double as the Astros appeared to pick up where last fall’s World Series ended: In a Game 7 victory for Houston.
But Astros manager A.J. Hinch knows there are still two more games remaining in this series so he wasn’t ready to raise a banner for this one.
“We’ve had good vibes since then too,” Hinch said, when asked about last fall. “This is a good place, but let’s not overdramatize it. It’s just a series.”
Perhaps. But none of the players seemed to treat it that way.
Verlander was willing to admit that it meant more. In no way was Friday’s game anywhere near a World Series environment, but for a regular-season game in August, the right-hander was impressed. He seemed motivated as well while tying a season high for strikeouts.
“This is not your average ballgame midweek, this is a big atmosphere, great ballclub with World Series aspirations and we played them in the World Series last year,” Verlander said. “We beat them and we’re in their ballpark. It kind of adds up to a great atmosphere. I expected nothing less and I didn’t feel disappointed. The fans were awesome.”
Verlander won his first career regular-season start at Dodger Stadium, giving up one run on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. He pitched well in last year’s World Series but had a loss and a no-decision in his two starts.
Springer was the unquestioned star of last year’s World Series against the Dodgers. He had five home runs, including homers in games 4, 5, 6 and 7. It appeared to be more of the same Friday when he worked a walk in the first inning and ripped an RBI double to left in the second that brought home a second run when center fielder Cody Bellinger mishandled the ball. Springer did not think the two runs would be enough.
“Not with the past experience with those guys over there,” Springer said. “But our guy (Verlander) was lights out again today. He was in control of the game from the start and he threw the ball well.”
The Dodgers’ Joc Pederson led off in the first inning with a home run off Verlander. It was his second straight game he’s led off with a homer and fifth time this season. He has eight in his career.
Offense was hard to come by after that for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor had singles in the third and eighth innings off Verlander. Bellinger had a single in the fourth.
“We have success when we don’t try to do too much off him,” Bellinger said. “We just look for hard hits. Verlander gets stronger as the game goes on which is pretty crazy. It’s hard to hit.”
Verlander struck out the side in both the second and fourth innings and set down Pederson in the eighth inning for his 14th and final strikeout before he was removed. Astros reliever Hector Rondon recorded the final four outs for his 11th save.
Wood (7-6) went six innings, but after a visit from a member of the Dodgers medical staff, he was removed as he came out to warm up in the seventh inning. Wood gave up two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks and was diagnosed with the same hamstring cramp that plagued him earlier in the year.
“I feel like my last couple of games my stuff has been the best consistently it’s just kind of dotting and nasty,” Wood said. “I’ve been working on getting my hand up and I think my command is hurt a little from that, but the direction I’ve been heading in feels good. I’m trying to shorten my arm swing and have seen that work in the quality of my stuff.”
Dodgers OF Andre Ethier, who drove in Los Angeles’ only run in Game 7 of last year’s World Series defeat, officially announced his retirement with an on-field ceremony Friday.
Ethier, who has not played with any team this season, hit 162 home runs with a .285 batting average in 12 seasons, all with the Dodgers. He was limited to just 38 regular season games the past two years because of multiple injuries.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (lower back soreness) played seven innings Thursday on a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi, was given a day off Friday and is scheduled to play both Saturday and Sunday. ... 2B Jose Altuve (right knee soreness) is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, but manager A.J. Hinch said he is not confident Altuve will play in Tuesday’s game at San Francisco. ... C Brian McCann (arthroscopic knee surgery) got into a catcher’s squat Friday for the first time since his early July surgery and will start working to build up his strength.
Dodgers: RHP Erik Goeddel (right lat inflammation) was placed on the 10-day disabled list opening a roster spot for RHP John Axford, who was acquired in a trade from the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) will have another rehab outing next week, possibly at Triple-A Oklahoma City, after throwing four scoreless innings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. ... LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder strain) received a cortisone shot after a setback in his recovery, but is expected to resume activity next week after a new MRI showed no significant damage in his shoulder.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (10-6, 4.06 ERA) will pitch Saturday, coming off his fourth career 11-strikeout performance Sunday against the Rangers.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.48) will make his first career regular-season appearance against the Astros on Saturday.