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Dodgers

Plan was tailor-made for Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor

The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor hits an RBI single in the sixth inning, tying the game at 1-1.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Tim Leary pitched 13 years in the big leagues and had his best season in 1988, going 17-11 with a 2.91 ERA in 35 games to help the Dodgers win the World Series over the Oakland Athletics.

Now 58 and living in Santa Monica, Leary is serving as a guest analyst for the World Series between the Dodgers and Houston Astros with an assist from Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna.

DiGiovanna: With two on and no outs in the sixth and the Dodgers down by a run, Fox analyst John Smoltz was adamant in his opinion that Chris Taylor should bunt the runners up. Be honest. Did you agree?

Leary: Well, no. He’s been swinging the bat too well. These guys don’t even practice sacrifice bunting very much anymore.

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And it’s not like the pitcher is up there bunting, and he’s going to automatically get a fastball down the middle.

It’s a different strategy with a position player up. He might get breaking ball, breaking ball, breaking ball, and it’s going to be a lot harder to bunt. You’ve got the top of the order up. You want to throw up a big number.

Taylor got a 97-mph, 1-and-2 fastball and hit it the other way for a double. That’s what I mean, this guy’s been on fire.

Kenley Jansen, who Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said would “probably be limited to three outs,” got a six-out save but threw only 19 pitches, 18 for strikes. Will he be able to throw multiple innings again in Game 7?

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Definitely. Monday’s off day helped, and 19 pitches for him is like a one-inning outing. He’s a horse. He’ll take the ball for three innings. It’s the way pro athletes are wired. Kenley has struggled some in this series, but he looked dominant Tuesday. That will be good for his confidence.

Cody Bellinger had another rough night at the plate with four strikeouts, but he made a game-saving scoop of Justin Turner’s one-hop throw to first with two on to end the seventh and preserve a 2-1 lead. Does Bellinger’s defense get lost amid all the home runs he hits?

Oh yeah, he’s great defensively, without a doubt. I mean, I’ve never seen him not make a play. Defense at first base is one area that doesn’t get the kudos that it deserves.

Cody’s a Keith Hernandez-type, a left-handed thrower who can take away the bunt, make all the throws, make all the plays … that’s a huge defensive position. If you have a way-above-average player at first, it’s a big bonus.

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The Astros put runners on second and third with no outs in the fifth, and Dodgers starter Rich Hill fell behind Josh Reddick with a three-ball count. How did they not score there?

That was a huge at-bat, definitely a turning point that prevented the Astros from putting up a crooked number. Hill got a called strike, a foul ball and struck out Reddick with a nice curve.

Then Justin Verlander, the pitcher, struck out, and George Springer is intentionally walked.

I liked that Roberts went to [setup man] Brandon Morrow there against Alex Bregman. Morrow is dominant, he has overpowering stuff, and the off day refreshed him. He kept the ball down and got the ground ball from Bregman. You want to go with your best there. There’s no tomorrow.

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What did you think of Roberts’ bullpen management for the rest of the game?

Tony Watson looked a little wobbly when he hit Brian McCann with a pitch to put two on with two outs in the sixth. Clearly, that’s not the strategy of the game.

But he got out of it when [Marwin] Gonzalez hit a little line drive to the second baseman.

The leadoff walk to Reddick in the next inning could have turned into a disaster, especially when Kenta Maeda replaced Watson and fell behind [pinch hitter] Evan Gattis with a two-ball count.

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Maeda’s next pitch, a fastball, was about three inches off the plate and called a strike. That was the biggest break ever. It changed the complexion of the at-bat. You go from 3-0 to 2-1.

Maeda threw a great slider that Gattis swung over for strike two, and then Gattis hit a low fastball for a fielder’s choice. Gattis is more of a high-ball hitter, so Maeda executed the pitch.

How do the teams line up for Game 7, with Yu Darvish scheduled to start for the Dodgers and Lance McCullers for the Astros?

I thought the teams were so even that it would go seven games.

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The difference in the teams is that the Dodgers have a deeper bullpen when they’re on, but the Astros have that extra starter in the bullpen, and that’s what it could come down to in Game 7.

McCullers to Charlie Morton is Plan A for the Astros. Darvish needs to get the Dodgers reasonably deep into the game, then it’s gonna be all hands on deck. It’s gonna be a war.

Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood will both be available for the Dodgers, and Dallas Keuchel will be available for Houston. Kershaw could throw 30-40 pitches. He’s not gonna say, “Take me out,” I know that.

Will the Astros need more from Bregman, Altuve and Carlos Correa, the two-three-four hitters who combined to go one for 12 Tuesday night?

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The Dodgers got their three runs Tuesday from the bottom four hitters, so it’s not like you can stay the top four batters in each lineup need to do it. It’s gonna be more about the pitching.

When you get to this level, baseball games are lost. Whoever makes the most mistakes, whether it’s a poor pitch, a guy getting behind in counts, walks, errors, you name it, the team that makes the most mistakes loses.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series

Kenley Jansen, Cody Bellinger, Rich Hill talk about losing Game 7 On Now

Video: Kenley Jansen, Cody Bellinger, Rich Hill talk about losing Game 7

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Analysis: Dodgers lose Game 7 and the World Series On Now

Video: Analysis: Dodgers lose Game 7 and the World Series

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Yu Darvish talks about using his slider for Game 7 On Now

Video: Yu Darvish talks about using his slider for Game 7

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Kenley Jansen and others talk about winning Game 6 On Now

Video: Kenley Jansen and others talk about winning Game 6

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Analyzing the Dodgers Game 6 win On Now

Video: Analyzing the Dodgers Game 6 win

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Clayton Kershaw on starting Game 5 of the World Series On Now

Video: Clayton Kershaw on starting Game 5 of the World Series

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Dave Roberts Talks Rich Hill and Kenley Jansen pitching in Game 6 On Now

Video: Dave Roberts Talks Rich Hill and Kenley Jansen pitching in Game 6

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Dave Roberts talks preparing for Game 7 On Now

Video: Dave Roberts talks preparing for Game 7

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Here it is, Game 7, and Bill Plaschke knows who wins On Now

Video: Here it is, Game 7, and Bill Plaschke knows who wins

2:22

Rich Hill talks about Game 6 of the World Series On Now

Video: Rich Hill talks about Game 6 of the World Series

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna

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