Built like an airplane hangar, named after orange juice, the contours of Minute Maid Park scream of camp. The foul poles are sponsored by Chick-fil-A. A conductor runs a train beyond the left-field fence, high above the Crawford Boxes, which beckon for home runs only 315 feet from the plate. The retractable roof creates a cauldron of noise.
On Friday evening, in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series, the quirks of this ballpark taunted Dodgers starter Yu Darvish as the Houston Astros battered him en route to a 5-3 victory to capture a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Crawford Boxes swallowed up a homer smashed by Houston first baseman Yuli Gurriel. The building rattled with so much noise that Darvish had to duck his head so catcher Austin Barnes could shout instructions in his ear. The advice wasn’t enough.
The Astros sizzled line drives through the air, enough for four runs, building a lead that the Dodgers offense could not overcome and creating a mess for manager Dave Roberts with implications beyond Friday’s loss. Houston remains unbeaten at home in the postseason. The Dodgers now understand why.
The crowd serenaded Darvish with jeers when Roberts exited the dugout with two outs in the second inning. The abbreviated outing forced Roberts to ride Kenta Maeda for 2 2/3 innings, which effectively removes him from appearing in Game 4 and possibly Game 5. Maeda kept the Dodgers within sight of the Astros, but the offense bumbled away early opportunities and could not convert against Houston’s bullpen.
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