LOS ANGELES -- Only moments after the Astros absorbed a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 6 of the World Series, evening the Fall Classic at three games apiece, third baseman Alex Bregman was asked about Tuesday's missed opportunity when they were four innings away from winning it all.
"We're nine innings from winning the World Series," Bregman said with a grin. "It's what you live for. Game 7. We're excited. It's going to be fun, and we can't wait to get out there."
Houston indeed had the momentum and the matchup heading into Game 6, with ace pitcher Justin Verlander making his final start. Verlander retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced, and George Springer's homer had staked the Astros to a 1-0 lead through five innings before the Dodgers rallied for a pair of runs in the sixth, which proved to be enough.
And now the 113th World Series comes down to a Game 7 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. Lance McCullers Jr., 24, will start for the Astros against Yu Darvish of the Dodgers in the 39th Game 7 in World Series history. The road team has won 20 of the last 38 Game 7s, but the home team has won nine of the previous 11.
The Cubs won Game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland last year and San Francisco did the same in Kansas City in 2014, but prior to that, the last road team to win a Game 7 was the 1979 Pirates in Baltimore.
"If you would have told me in Spring Training I would get a chance to play Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1, I would say, 'I'm in,'" Springer said. "Obviously, the goal is to win. I don't care how we do it. This is awesome."
Almost to a man, the Astros were clearly looking forward to Game 7, and they carried themselves confidently, with the same kind of positive energy they had following a Game 5 loss to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series that put them in a 3-2 hole. They came back to Houston to win Games 6 and 7, so the pressure is nothing new.
"It's the biggest game of everyone's life tomorrow," Astros relief pitcher Joe Musgrove said. "This is a game everyone dreams about playing in, and not many people get a chance to. We're pretty fortunate to be here, and I promise you everyone is going to be here ready to go tomorrow."
Carlos Correa said Houston's confidence was at "an optimum level right now" after the loss to Los Angeles, which is hosting its first Game 7 in a World Series at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are trying to become the 21st team to come back from a 3-2 deficit in the Fall Classic under the current seven-game format. The Cubs turned the trick last year, rallying from a 3-1 deficit.
"We're going to go out there tomorrow like nothing happened today, and we've just got to win one game," Correa said. "If you told me at the beginning of the season, 'You've got to win one game against Yu Darvish to win the World Series,' I would take those odds. Just go out there tomorrow and try to win that last game."
While McCullers gets the start, Game 7 figures to be a free-for-all. Charlie Morton is available out of the bullpen, and even Verlander, after throwing 93 pitches on Tuesday, said he would be available, if needed.
"It's two evenly matched teams, two great ballclubs that won 100-plus games for a reason," Verlander said. "A lot of people predicted this happening. Obviously, we would have liked to have swept or closed it out in five or six or whatever. But when you look at both of these teams, I think it was pretty easy to forecast a great Series."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.