Darvish ready for World Series debut in familiar surroundings

(Reuters) - Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish will return to familiar surroundings when he makes his World Series debut on Friday against the host Houston Astros.

The Japanese right-hander has made many trips to the home of the Astros since breaking into the major leagues in 2012 having pitched five seasons for their cross-state rival, the Texas Rangers.

But Darvish, who boasts a 4-1 record and stellar 2.16 earned run average in six career starts at Houston's Minute Maid Park, dismissed any notion that having enjoyed success in the stadium before gives him any edge.

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"I feel like it doesn't really matter. It's better to know that I've pitched here before. But (Friday's) game, it could be totally different from my previous outings, here," Darvish said through a translator.

"But like I said, it's better to know this stadium and I pitched here before. Maybe it will give me a little bit of an advantage, but it really doesn't matter."

But for the Dodgers, Darvish's familiarity pitching in the Astros' ballpark could be a key reason why they decided to start him in Houston, where the best-of-seven series resumes after the teams split the first two games in Los Angeles.

Darvish also has plenty of familiarity with the Astros lineup having started against them 14 times -- all as a member of the Rangers -- and has a record of 5-5 with a 3.44 ERA.

And while Darvish has changed his delivery, pace and pitch selection since joining the Dodgers in July, he said that will not alter how he approaches the Houston hitters.

"Me, personally, like I really don't change much going into tomorrow's outing, but to them I'm a different kind of pitcher, different type of pitcher in my pitch selection. So they feel I may have a different approach," said Darvish.

Related: Look back at the Dodgers' last World Series appearance: 

18 PHOTOS
1988 World Series: Dodgers defeat Oakland Athletics
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1988 World Series: Dodgers defeat Oakland Athletics
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 15: Manager Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tony LaRussa of the Oakland Athletics, shake hands during the player introductions during the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California in October 15, 1988. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 15: First Lady Nancy Reagan throws the ceremonial first pitch of the 1988 World Series featuring the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on October 15, 1988. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 5-4 in game one of the series. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 1988: Mickey Hatcher #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers stands on deck circle and waits for his turn to bat against the Oakland Athletics during the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California in October of 1988. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 15: Dave Stewart #34 of the Oakland Athletics throws the first pitch of the 1988 World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on October 15, 1988. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 5-4 in game 1. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 15: Los Angeles Dodgers teammates rush Kirk Gibson #23 after he hit a home run against the Oakland Athletics during the World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 15, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 5-4 in game 1 of the series. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 15: Jose Conseco #33 of the Oakland Athletics and Mike Davis #20 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, former teammates, pose before the competition during the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California in October 15, 1988. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: Los Angeles Dodgers' Kirk Gibson #23 gestures to the crowd after hitting a home run during the World Series against the Oakland Athletics at Dodger Stadium on October 15, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 5-4 in game 1 of the series. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 16: Orel Hershiser #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws the first pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the 1988 World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on October 16, 1988. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 6-0 in game 2 of the World Series. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 16: Alfredo Claudino Griffin of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs across home plate against the Oakland Athletics during game 2 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California in October 16, 1988. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 6-0. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16, 1988: Infielder Steve Sax #2 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides in at second base ahead of the tag of shortstop Walt Weiss #7 of the Oakland Athletics during game 2 of the 1988 World Series, October 16, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won the series 4-1. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19: Mark McGwire #25 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game 3 of the World Series at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on October 19, 1988. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 4-3 in game 4. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 20: Orel Hershiser #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the 1988 World Series at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on October 20, 1988. The Dodgers defeated the Athletics 4-3 in the decisive game 5 of the World Series. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: Kirk Gibson #23 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats in the bottom of the ninth inning of game one against the Oakland Athletics during the 1988 World Series, October 15, 1988 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers won the series 4-1. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 20, 1988: Third baseman Carney Lansford of the Oakland Athletics makes a diving catch in game 5 of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics, October 20, 1988 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Dodgers won the series 4-1. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 20, 1988: Picher Orel Hershiser (L) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is lifted in the air with jubilation by catcher Rick Dempsey (R) while teammates Jeff Hamilton #33 and Mickey Hatcher #9 rush to the scene after Hershiser pitched a complete game to win game 5 and the 1988 World Series against the Oakland Athletics, October 20, 1988 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Dodgers won the series 4-1. Hershiser was the series MVP and played for the Dodgers from 1983-94, 2000. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 20, 1988: Picher Orel Hershiser (L) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is lifted in the air by catcher Rick Dempsey (R) while teammates Mickey Hatcher and Tracy Woodson #21 Jump with jubilation after Hershiser pitched a complete game to win game 5 and the 1988 World Series against the Oakland Athletics, October 20, 1988 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Dodgers won the series 4-1. Hershiser was the series MVP and played for the Dodgers from 1983-94, 2000. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 20: Franklin Stubbs #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers receives a champagne shower in the clubhouse after winning the World Series against the Oakland Athletics on October 20, 1988 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Dodgers won the game 5-2 and won the series 4-1. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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The Astros have watched plenty of video footage on Darvish and noticed the changes he has made but said playoff baseball is unpredictable and you can go into a game expecting one thing from a pitcher and get something totally different.

For their part, the Astros said they have a simple game plan: get a pitch to hit.

"He's got 15 pitches you have to deal with, from different angles, and he can reach back and have velocity. Tomorrow is going to be a big start for him, I know he'll be at his best," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

"But if you can get him in the strike zone, like any pitcher in the Big Leagues, we've done damage to every good pitcher in the strike zone. When we expand, it's tough.

"So for us having familiarity will help a little bit, but when you get to Game 3 of the World Series, the competition will be at a unique level. And we'll see how he adjusts or do we adjust."

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