LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball had a change of heart heading into the 2017 season, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will now try to use it to their advantage.
With the All-Star Game no longer deciding which league has home-field advantage in the World Series, the Dodgers turned the best record in baseball this year into the opportunity to host a Game 7 of the Fall Classic if it ever came to that.
It will now come to that after the Dodgers upended the Houston Astros 3-1 on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the World Series. When the first pitch of Game 7 is thrown Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, the field will be surrounded by 54,000-plus mostly Dodgers fans in a ballpark where the club did most of its damage.
"Yeah, I think it seems fitting," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said when asked about this World Series going seven games. "You've got the two best teams in baseball going head to head.
"Like we've talked about from the beginning, these two teams mirror one another. And the compete and fight in both teams is the most important thing I see as similarities. But, again, we worked all year long to have home-field advantage, and here we are. It's only fitting for this series, yeah."
The Dodgers will aim for their seventh World Series title all time, while the Astros are looking to lock down their first. In Houston's only other World Series appearance, the Chicago White Sox emerged with a sweep in 2005.
While the Astros and the New York Yankees both won all their home games in the seven-game American League Championship Series, the Dodgers and Astros have been less predictable in the World Series. The Astros won Game 2 in Los Angeles, while the Dodgers picked off Game 4 at Houston.
Anything goes in L.A. on Wednesday night.
"This series has been back and forth, two incredible teams trying to get to the finish line," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "And so now, obviously it's good for our sport. ... We'll get back to the hotel, where we'll collect ourselves. Both teams will be ready to play with about as much energy as you could possibly imagine in Game 7."
Hinch announced after the Game 6 defeat that Lance McCullers Jr. would be his starter for Game 7. The right-hander gave up three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings while earning the victory in Game 3, but he was not satisfied with that performance. He said he was far from sharp and had to grind to get through the outing.
"We're the two best teams in baseball, and I think that has been solidified by how amazing this series has been," McCullers said. "And I expect all of our guys to come to the park ready to win tomorrow, just like I would expect all of (the Dodgers) to come into the park ready to win tomorrow. Which is what I think is what makes this series so great, is you've got two teams with a bunch of dogs in the clubhouse. No one is afraid to back down. And I expect a great Game 7."
A reporter from Japan asked if McCullers could explain what he meant by "dogs" since the postgame interviews were being broadcast live in Japan and something might have been lost in translation.
"It's someone that is not going to back down, very competitive, willing to kind of leave it all out there without much fear," McCullers said.
In a series with wild swings of emotion on both sides, showing no fear has been key. And that no-fear attitude was represented in many ways. Humbled by the first in-season demotion of his career, Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson turned things around quickly with three home runs in the World Series. He wasn't even on the Dodgers' roster for the National League Division Series.
"I don't think it's hit me yet, but, yeah, I think you dream about (Game 7) as a kid," Pederson said. "I think it's going to be big for me, and I think all of us (must) just remember it's still a baseball game. You've got to slow it down. Still play the same way that we've been playing all year that got us to here and try to limit the distractions."
The Dodgers will have Game 3 starter Yu Darvish on the mound as the right-hander will try to rebound from a sub-par effort at Houston. He gave up four runs on six hits in just 1 2/3 innings.
"I threw the bullpen session and my slider is getting there, and it's better," Darvis said Tuesday. "I can't pay that much attention to what happened, last time. Just focus on (Wednesday's) outing and have a good game."