LOS ANGELES (AP) The fastballs aren’t the only things hitting triple digits at the World Series.
This Fall Classic is going to feel like summer.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros will meet on what’s expected to be a 100-degree Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, beginning possibly the warmest World Series ever.
An October heat wave slugged Southern California on Monday, with the temperature reaching 104 degrees shortly after lunchtime in Chavez Ravine. It was still blazing when the Dodgers and Astros showed up at Dodger Stadium for brief late-afternoon workouts that stretched into the early evening.
The heat isn’t likely to bother the players much: Both of these warm-weather teams are used to sweating it out all summer long.
”Love it,” said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, a Southern California native and the co-MVP of the NL Championship Series. ”I’d rather be playing in the heat than in the snow, so it’s great.”
Still, the players didn’t take the field Monday until the sun was partly blocked by the left field grandstands, and they took batting practice after sunset – when it was still a toasty 94 degrees. Similar heat is expected Tuesday.
”This weather is always beautiful,” said Dallas Keuchel, the Astros’ Game 1 starter. ”It’s that dry heat, so it’s going to be hotter than normal to play. At the same time, I like to sweat. I like to get that perspiration and make sure I have a firm grip on the ball. It’s the World Series, so if it’s a little bit hotter than usual, that’s fine with me. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
Game 1 has a chance to be the warmest World Series game on record. Back in 2001, the temperature was around 94 degrees in Phoenix for the Oct. 27 World Series opener between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. The Chase Field roof was left open, and the temperature had dropped to 76 degrees by game time.
Some forecasts expect Los Angeles to be hotter than 94 degrees for the first pitch at 8 p.m. EDT on Tuesday – and there’s no roof on Dodger Stadium.
”Never would I have expected that at the end of October, going into November,” Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor said. ”That’s LA for you, though.”
The Dodgers are in the World Series for the first time since 1988, and the temperature feels just fine to the boys in blue.
”Everything is hot in LA!” Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen said with a grin. ”The Dodgers are hot. Everybody is excited. It’s been a while since Kirk Gibson. Of course it’s hot today.”
The Astros are also used to a little bit of heat – and in East Texas, they’ve got humidity that can wear out most Californians.
”It’ll be hot, but I don’t think anybody is going to be thinking about the weather too much,” Houston right-hander Will Harris said. ”I’m pretty sure our training staff will be on us with making sure we’re hydrated, and they may have some cold rags in the dugout.”
The 56,000 Dodgers fans will be more vulnerable to the elements when they crowd into their venerable stadium to witness the end of their team’s 29-year World Series drought. Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson offered advice to fans and teammates alike.
”Hydration is going to be key, and trying to cool off is going to be key,” Granderson said. ”But I think if you would poll everybody, everybody would definitely like it to be a little bit warmer than they would be cold.”
The World Series hasn’t visited the three open-air ballparks in the southern half of California since 2002, when the then-Anaheim Angels won it all.
The sun is scheduled to set about one hour after the first pitch in each of the first two games, so the heat will drop after that. But the temperatures could even knock out the marine layer – the thick air mass caused by cooling temperatures near the Pacific Ocean and often blamed for fly balls falling short of the fence from San Diego to Oakland.
”I think it’s going to benefit the hitters,” Dodgers utilityman Kike Hernandez said. ”The hotter it is here, the better the ball carries.”
The Astros are familiar with a whole different level of heat combined with humidity during their long, hot summers in Houston, but the roof is usually closed at Minute Maid Park, where the air-conditioned temperature is always around 73 balmy degrees. The weekend forecast in Houston calls for temperatures perhaps topping 80 degrees.
Yet there’s no denying some players will be slightly more comfortable in the heat than others: Turner and Keuchel are among several regulars on each team who sport thick, lustrous beards.
So would a heat wave be enough to send Keuchel looking for relief in a barbershop?
”If it’s hot enough for four wins, I’ll shave it for sure,” Keuchel said with a laugh.
More AP baseball: Hometeaminsider.com