LOS ANGELES – The last time the Dodgers and Astros played in front of a full house at Dodger Stadium, Jose Altuve first kicked Corey Seager out in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, which resulted in Charlie Morton and Brian McCann being bullied on the hill.
This was the final scene of an epic World Series between the two teams that crossed the distance and one that played two of the best games in the history of the Fall Classics. Years later, however, we found out that the final out in Game 7 was far from the final scene.
Following an investigation, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the Astros illegally stole signs during the 2017 regular season and postseason, as well as parts of the ’18 regular season. The form of shield theft most commonly used by the Astros was hitting trash cans to indicate whether the upcoming game was a breakball or a fastball.
By the time the full report came out, everything started to make sense to the Dodgers. It was starting to make sense as to why Clayton Kershaw only got one swing and missed 51 sliders / curveballs, two pitches that would make him a Hall of Famer on the first round of voting. Perhaps Yu Darvish didn’t tip, as it was said after losing in Game 7. Maybe it should have been a Dodgers pitcher bullied on the hill, not Morton.
“These guys cheated for three years,” Bellinger said during spring training last year. “I think what people don’t know is that Altuve stole an MVP [Aaron] Richter in ’17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us. But it’s over.”
We’ll never know how the World Series would have turned out, and we don’t necessarily know the situations or games in which the Astros used their system the most or to what extent. What is certain, however, is that Dodger Stadium will look very different from almost four years ago.
“Probably not good,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker when asked how he expected the reception at Dodger Stadium. “It was not bad [in San Francisco]but I’m sure it will be a lot more hostile when we get to LA so we just have to deal with it. You don’t worry about the reception we’ll get. You just have to go out and play ball. “
The two teams met last season at Dodger Stadium and Minute Maid Park, but the first meetings between the teams since the 2017 World Series without fans in the stands certainly watered down. Although he didn’t play in front of fans, Joe Kelly didn’t stop him from letting Carlos Correa know exactly how he feels about him and his team.
This year, the Dodgers are expecting a lot of people for the two-game set. It’s also expected to be the most hostile environment the Astros have played in the past two seasons, and that includes a noisy Yankee Stadium earlier this season.
“I wasn’t here, so I don’t have the same emotions as these guys,” said Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. “But I’m ready for war. I’m with the Dodgers. No matter what my feelings are, I have to ride with my team. We are ready.”
While the emotions will certainly be high, the product should also provide an advantage in the field of rivalry. The Astros have the best offense in baseball and the Dodgers have one of the best pitching stabs in the majors. LA will have hopeful Cy Young Walker Buehler on the hill, and newly acquired Max Scherzer will make his team debut on Wednesday.
But apart from Bühler and Scherzer, the Astros will have more than 50,000 fans. They have been waiting for this moment for years.
“The audience will be full of energy for what we expect and expect,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “We have Walker up and running and I know he’s going to be really excited. It will be a fun homestand. “