Game 1 of the 2018 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost in a wild World Series against the Astros last year, and the Boston Red Sox, who recently knocked off the Astros in ALCS, went last night at beautiful Fenway Park.
In what was hyped up to be a spicy southpaw square off between Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw, it was the bats that took center stage, as neither starter was able to make it out of the 5th inning. Kershaw has won just about everything imaginable aside from a World Series ring, including 3 Cy Young Awards, NL MVP, 7 time All Star, a Gold Glove, and 5 time ERA title champ. Sale on the other hand, has finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting on 6 different occasions, but despite never hearing his name called for the award, is certainly still a bona fide ace in today's game.
Scoring got underway early in Game 1, as in the bottom of the 1st inning, Andrew Benintendi singled to right field, where a strong throw from Yasiel Puig lead to a challenge on the tag at the plate; but after all was said and done, Mookie Betts did indeed score and Benintendi advanced to 2nd on the throw. Two batters later, the RBI machine JD Martinez singled to left, cashing Benintendi, and making the score 2-0 Bo Sox.
In the top half of the 2nd, the Dodgers responded with a solo shot from Matt Kemp on a full count, to cut the lead in half and give LA some momentum.
Some more small ball was played in the 3rd by the Dodgers, as a string of hits brought Manny Machado to the dish with two men on base. Machado hit a hard single that cashed Justin Turner and moved David Freese up to 2nd. 2-2 game.
The Red Sox would take back the lead in their half of the 3rd though, as JD Martinez rocketed a 109.1mph double off the wall in dead centerfield, scoring Steve Pearce on the play.
Chris Sale left the game in the 5th inning without recording an out, bringing in Matt Barnes from the pen. A wild pitch from Barnes allowed both runners to move up into scoring position, and the next batter, Machado, grounded out to 2nd but scored Brian Dozier from 3rd base. 3-3 ball game.
The tie did not last long however, as Kershaw struggled in the 5th as well, and also exited without recording an out and allowing two men on base. This time, a wild pitch from newly brought in reliever Ryan Madson moved both runners into scoring position, and Madson proceeded to walk Steve Pearce on 4 straight pitches. The next batter was JD Martinez... not the guy you want to see step into the box with the bases loaded in a tie game. Yet Madson found his groove and managed to strike out Martinez. Xander Bogaerts was up next, and he hit a soft chopper to Machado at short, who got the force out at 2nd but the Dodgers failed to turn the double play as Bogaerts flew down the line to beat out the throw at first. This was a perfect example of why you run everything out in the game of baseball, as the Sox kept the inning alive and regained the lead. Rafael Devers kept the ball rolling as he singled three pitches later, scoring Benintendi. 5-3 Sox after 5.
In the 7th inning, Machado flew out to center off righty Ryan Brasier, scoring Max Muncy from 3rd base to make the game 5-4 Boston.
Beantown responded in the bottom of the 7th however, as Alex Cora brought in Eduardo Nunez to pinch hit for Devers against lefty Alex Wood. The move paid dividends as Nunez hit a 3 run bomb to make the game 8-4.
The game ended this way, as Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel shut the door on any comeback aspirations the Dodgers had in the 8th or 9th.
As I mentioned, both starters were underwhelming tonight, as Sale finished with a no decision, after giving up 3 earned runs, including a home run, and walking 2 while striking out 7 through 4+ innings pitched. Not great numbers, but the strikeouts were there for him as always. Kershaw on the other hand, was charged with both runs that Sox scored off Madson in the 5th, meaning he eventually got the loss and went just 4+ innings giving up 7 hits and 5 runs. The Dodgers will certainly need a better outing from him in his next start if they hope to put up a fight.
Andrew Benintendi, better known in Boston as 'Benny Biceps' was a base hit machine in Game 1. He went 4 for 5 on the night with an RBI and 3 runs scored. With so much focus on Martinez and Bogaerts after him in the lineup and Betts before him, Benny may get a better pitch or two to hit sometimes, and he certainly made the best of his opportunity tonight.
Subpar starters are a theme in this postseason. 2 underwhelming starts tonight from 2 of the top 5 pitchers in baseball seems crazy, and both teams will hope for a stronger outing from these two next time around. The Dodgers especially, even though they have some good bats, they won't win many games that Kershaw gives up 5 runs in only 4 innings of work.
Nunez pinch hit homerun sealed the deal for Boston, and their is almost nothing as exciting as a pinch hit homerun in the World Series. The hit got Fenway Park going crazy, and even sparked a 'Yankees Suck' chant from the crowd. Nonetheless, a calculated move from manager Cora, who picked his poison for the matchup and it paid off big time.
Justin Turner lead the way for the Dodgers with 3 hits, while Machado managed 3 RBI, but the rest of their lineup was surprisingly quiet, and they will need to turn that around if they hope to keep up with the Sox' sluggers.
Game 2 goes tonight in Boston, with another southpaw matchup as newly appointed mayor of Boston David Price takes on Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers. My prediction... Red Sox put up another big number, as Ryu struggled in his last outing against the Brewers last week.