Dodgers pitcher Darvish won 5 games facing Astros at Minute Maid Park

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Similar to Houston's pursuit of Justin Verlander, the Los Angeles Dodgers got a starting-caliber pitcher in Yu Darvish at the trade deadline.

At the time, league observers saw the Darvish acquisition as failure for the Astros to similarly bolster the pitching staff, even drawing criticism from their ace Dallas Keuchel. Of course, that all went out of the window once Verlander arrived as part of a waiver trade deadline deal.

As for Darvish - the Japanese pitching phenom who sent the Majors into a frenzy and prompted the Texas Rangers to spend $51.7 million just for the right to sign him, the right-hander is in a position that the Dodgers want him in - facing a confident Astros squad that has been unbeaten at home.

In Game 3 of the World Series, Darvish faces a batting order that dismantled a seemingly unbreakable Dodgers pitching staff in Game 2.

Given a 3-1 lead heading into the eighth inning of Wednesday's game, the bullpen snapped a 27-inning postseason scoreless streak to allow an Astros rally to take place.

Darvish will be given the task of keeping the Astros bats quiet for as long as he can. Lifetime against his former AL West rivals, Darvish's opposing batting average is .190 over 163 total at-bats. He has allowed just three home runs and 11 RBIs with 53 strikeouts vs. Houston.

As a Ranger, Darvish went 1-1 this season against the Astros. In a home performance vs. Houston on June 2, Darvish gave up seven hits with three earned runs, including a home run, for the loss.

In contrast, Darvish threw a one-hit, one-run game through seven innings in a June 12 win at Minute Maid Park.

In fact, Darvish is unbeaten in six appearances at MMP, winning five against the Astros. Darvish has already won twice on the road in the postseason for the Dodgers.

While the Astros can say they are familiar with the 30-year-old, manager A.J. Hinch has cautioned that that familiarity doesn't guarantee anything.

On the other side, the Astros can find confidence in finally notching their first World Series win, something that was done on an epic scale.

With that momentum heading into the middle three games in Houston, the Astros are putting their Game 3 hopes on Lance McCullers Jr., who dominated in his previous postseason appearance: four innings of relief to clinch the AL pennant against the Yankees last Saturday.

McCullers in his other start kept the ship afloat for the Astros, allowing only two hits and one earned run in six innings against the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS.

McCullers' postseason legend grew in his relief appearance, fanning the Yankees on 25 consecutive curveballs in route to the AL championship.

RELATED: 7 things to know about Lance McCullers Jr.

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In addition, the Astros can be confident heading into the homestand after their bats woke up in Game 2. The Astros improved, hitting 14-for-43 with 14 hits and seven RBIs, including the four home runs they contributed to the record-setting game.

First pitch is set for 7:20 p.m., and thanks to the frigid temperatures outside, the roof will be closed for 41,000 people to deafen the combatants on the field.

A 10-foot tall rooster, free hot dogs, head-shaving and pumpkin carvings: We've got all the World Series bases covered.

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