Dodger Stadium fans unloaded a few years’ worth of bottled-up rage on the Astros, but all that energy wasn’t enough to win the game, or even score a run. The Dodgers had no answer for Lance McCullers Jr. in a 3-0 loss to Houston on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
The crowd was as loud as any of the 36 postseason games played at Dodger Stadium over the previous eight years, and it all started during batting practice.
Fans yelled “cheater” and many other things, and booed the Astros all during BP, even throwing back home runs onto the field. This practice continued during the game, with fans throwing several foul balls hit by Astros players during the game, the first time Dodgers fans had a chance to see the Astros in person at Dodger Stadium since news of, and subsequent punishment for, their sign-stealing scandal in 2017.
“Fans have been waiting. There’s a lot of pent up frustration, anger, which, I understand it,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game.
The crowd was giving it to the visiting team for the entire game, cheering every Houston out and jeering every Astros player. But the boos were the loudest for the three who played during the 2017 World Series — Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and McCullers.
Top of the Astros lineup getting introduced pic.twitter.com/ArAVizhDzW— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) August 4, 2021
There were multiple people in the stands wearing Oscar the Grouch costumes, a few fights in the stands, and at least five inflatable trash cans that were thrown onto the field. But in between that and the “Fuck Altuve” chants, there was a baseball game to be played.
Tuesday was the seventh regular season game between these two teams since the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme was revealed.
“For the players, we’ve gone there and played, we played those guys here last year, and played them there this year. We’re sort of in that mode of, it’s another good ball club coming to Dodger Stadium that we’ve got to try and beat,” Roberts said before the game. “The fans haven’t had that opportunity, so I think for them, feeling that there is potentially some closure from that aspect, I totally get it.”
Despite the venom spewed his way from the sold-out crowd, McCullers was great, striking out nine and pitching into the seventh inning. He allowed only four hits, one of them to AJ Pollock in the seventh, followed two batters later by a seven-pitch walk to Mookie Betts, which ended McCullers’ night.
Max Muncy saw nine pitches from left-handed reliever Blake Taylor, but struck out to end the threat.
Walker Buehler was stingy as well, but needed 113 pitches to get through six innings. Houston scored once off him, with two doubles in the third inning, the second a Michael Brantley line drive to right field, scoring catcher Martin Maldonado.
“No matter how emotional this series is, that’s a good team over there,” Buehler said.
There was a palpable, nearly nonstop energy at Dodger Stadium for over four hours, but most of that dissipated in the top of the eighth when Yordan Alvarez — who as a 19-year-old was traded by the Dodgers to the Astros for reliever Josh Fields — crushed a home run well into the right field pavilion. The Russian nesting doll of old wounds turned a 1-0 deficit into 3-0, deflating the crowd.
The announced attendance of 52,692 at Dodger Stadium made this the largest MLB crowd of the season, and quite possibly the angriest. But they didn’t get the closure they wanted.
Home run: Yordan Alvarez (20)
WP — Lance McCullers Jr (9-2): 6⅔ IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
LP — Walker Buehler (11-2): 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Sv — Ryne Stanek (2): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
Max Scherzer makes his Dodgers debut on Wednesday night (6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Jake Odorizzi starting for Houston.