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Early start tonight offers must-watch lineup

Early start tonight offers must-watch lineup

ARLINGTON -- As the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex prepares to host its first World Series game, intrigue for the evening spans all generations. With a 6:30 p.m. ET start time on FOX and the first pitch at 6:57 -- the earliest start to a World Series game since 1987 -- Saturday is primed to be a night for the family to gather around the television.

"The changes we made with FOX last year to start the World Series games earlier helped increase viewership, including more young fans," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "And we are optimistic that the earlier start time for Saturday's Game 3 will keep us moving in the same direction."

But more than just the start time is designed for the young baseball fans out there.

Teen pop sensation Justin Bieber is debuting his song "Never Say Never" during FOX's pregame show, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. And if you're one of the few who hasn't caught Bieber Fever just yet, know that performances by former American Idol Kelly Clarkson and actress/singer Martha Plimpton are scheduled to follow.

Clarkson will perform the national anthem, while Plimpton will sing God Bless America before the bottom half of the seventh inning.

Also to be unveiled on Saturday are the winners of MLB.com's World Series of Costumes contest. For the past week, fans have been scanning through hundreds of photos of dressed-up kids and voting for the best costumes. The pictures of the three winners -- determined in part by fan voting and by celebrity judges Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson -- will be shown during the telecast.

For the baseball purists out there, there's obviously plenty for you, too.

Rangers president and baseball's all-time strikeouts leader Nolan Ryan will deliver one of his biggest strikes yet, as he welcomes baseball to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with the night's ceremonial first pitch. Fitting it is, too, that Ryan's offering will be caught by Ivan Rodriguez, a 13-time Gold Glove Award winner who spent parts of 13 seasons with the Rangers.

Though the pregame ceremony is sure to be stirring, the primary drama will begin to unfold when Colby Lewis throws the first pitch of Game 3. Down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, the Rangers are poised to show the nation that they are by no means out of this Fall Classic just yet.

Lewis delivered a sensational performance a week ago to lift the Rangers to a home win in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series over the Yankees. It was a performance that punched Texas' ticket to the World Series, and Lewis will pitch in front of that same home crowd again on Saturday.

"With your backs up against the wall, where do you want to be?" Rangers catcher Matt Treanor said. "In front of your home fans."

With San Franciscans expected to be donning black beards and Panda hats hundreds of miles away, the Giants have their eyes set on a 3-0 series lead. Such an advantage would seem to be insurmountable and would put the club 27 outs away from delivering San Francisco its first World Series trophy.

A Giants win and this series might well be over. A Rangers victory and, well, this 106th World Series could be on its way to becoming a classic. So if you're looking for drama, this is one night of baseball that you won't want to miss.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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