Using a combination of clutch two-out hitting and an effective bullpen, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-4 to take game one of the 2018 World Series. The Red Sox, who won a franchise high 108 games during the regular season, scored five of their eight runs after two were out including their last four. The big blast came off the bat of pinch hitter Eduardo Nunez who hit a three run home run in the bottom of the seventh to break open a close game. The Red Sox bullpen only allowed one run in the last five innings with closer Craig Kimbrel recording the last three outs in a non-save situation.
Boston is now 8-2 this post season and 13-2 in their last 15 World Series games dating back to 2004 with a 7-1 record at Fenway Park. They will try to keep the momentum going on Wednesday night in game two where David Price will start for the Red Sox and Hyun-Jin Ryu goes for the Dodgers.
This game marked the first time in over 100 years the two storied franchises met in the Fall Classic. It was a much anticipated showdown between Boston ace Chris Sale and LA ace Clayton Kershaw. It was the first time in World Series history that two pitchers with 300 strikeout seasons faced each other. Interestingly, neither pitcher recorded an out after the fourth inning. Kershaw, who suffered the loss, is a pedestrian 9-9 in his post-season career. Sale allowed three runs while striking out seven.
Boston scored two batters into the game after Mookie Betts led off with a single, stole second and scored on an Andrew Benintendi single. That run boded poorly for the Dodgers as Boston went 74-15 this year when scoring first to lead the majors. Benintendi’s single was the first of a career night as he went 4-5 with one RBI and three runs scored.
Still, the Dodgers kept the game close tying the game 2-2 in the third and 3-3 in the fifth. They closed to within 5-4 in the seventh on a Manny Machado sacrifice fly. Machado had three RBIs for the Dodgers in a losing cause. The nearly four hour game featured 10 pitching changes and six pinch hitters. It was a Red Sox pinch hitter who broke the game open in the bottom of the seventh.
It was a one run game and Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts made a decision that will no doubt be second-guessed. Dodger reliever Pedro Baez entered the game with no outs and Benintendi on second with his fourth hit of the game. Baez stuck out Mitch Moreland and after an intentional walk, whiffed Xander Bogaerts with a 97-mph fast ball. After that strike out Roberts decided to lift Baez in favor of Alex Wood. Boston manager Alex Cora sent right-hand hitting Eduardo Nunez to pinch hit for Rafael Devers. Nunez is a career .182 hitter and had only one prior RBI as a pinch hitter. He was benched for the red-hot Devers in games four and five of the ALCS. But as has been the case in this post-season, the stats mattered little to Cora as Nunez launched a three-run homer on the second pitch he saw giving the Red Sox an 8-4 lead. It was the fourth pinch hit home run in Boston franchise history. It is anyone’s guess as to why Baez was removed from the game as he was throwing in the high 90s in his 2/3 inning of work.
The Red Sox have been called a relentless team by many baseball devotees. Their hitters work the count, get on base and score a lot of runs. In game one of the Series, the Sox had eleven hits and five walks and scored in four of the eight innings they played. It may make for long baseball games, but it hard to argue with a team with a terrific post-season record such as theirs. It is only game one, but in the last 15 seasons, the game one winner has won the Series 12 times. And with the unpredictability of Boston’s rookie manager, the Dodgers have to be ready for anything, anytime throughout this series and if they are unable to adapt to this relentless style of play, this series could be a short one.