Roberts: Dodgers need Wood to perform
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts knows he has to protect his bullpen following Friday's 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros in game three of the MLB World Series.
The Dodgers started Yu Darvish in Houston, but he lasted just 1.6 innings after allowing four earned runs in the second inning.
Roberts said the Dodgers – down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series – need a strong performance from game-four starter Alex Wood.
"With Yu, I think there was one swing-and-miss when he was out there. The fastball command wasn't there, and the slider was backing up. So he just really didn't have the feel and couldn't get any type of rhythm going," Roberts said following Friday's game.
"So right there you find yourself after five outs down 4-0, you have to go right there — had to go to the pen to give us a chance to stay in that game.
"They were taking good swings, obviously taking good at-bats against him. But it just goes to the fastball command and the breaking ball just wasn't there are [Friday].
"We just had an off-day [Thursday]. And when your starter goes five outs, you've got to find a way to cover some innings. Everyone [Saturday] is available, outside of Kenta [Maeda]. And Alex is going to have to go deep. But I think, like I said, everyone is available, and we've got [Clayton Kershaw] going game five. They'll be available. They'll be fine."
Astros reliever Brad Peacock completed an 11-out save, tossing 3.6 hitless innings with four strikeouts. Dodgers hitters looked lost against Peacock's four-seam fastball, and Roberts was impressed with the 29-year-old.
"I thought he threw the ball really well. He had really good fastball command," Roberts said. "The fastball to the outer half of the plate against our left-handers was riding. He really competed. He got ahead. And we really couldn't square him up.
"Against the righties, the slider obviously really plays. But I thought that outside of that [Yasmani] Grandal at-bat, that last one, we didn't have really great at-bats against him, really great swings. I know he got extended more, 52, 53 pitches. But he got ahead and put us on the defensive all night."
The Astros remain undefeated at home so far this postseason and Roberts was impressed with the Houston faithful.
"Obviously this crowd is into it, very educated, very enthusiastic," he said. "They've got some confidence over there, that team. And it's up to us, up to Alex to go out there and set the tone, get a quick first inning and get us — bats got to come alive, keep getting guys on base, getting that big hit."
Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger went 0 for four with four strikeouts, staying hitless during the World Series. Roberts defended his rookie first baseman after the difficult effort.
"I don't see giving him a day off. There were a couple of good swings, but I think he's just in that funk right now where he's chasing balls out of the strike zone," Roberts said. "I think the defense is obviously a premium. And the presence of him to be in the line-up.
"But it's just trying to get Cody to slow down a little bit. I think he's been a little too quick. And tonight you saw balls below the zone. He was on the defensive. So I think that he's trying his hardest. He's trying his tail off. I think we've got to get him to slow down and stay in the strike zone. If you look at the pitches tonight, a lot of balls out of the zone."