October 23, 2018

World Series 1: Red Sox 8, Dodgers 4

Dodgers - 011 010 100 - 4  8  0
Red Sox - 201 020 30x - 8 11  0

This is entirely too easy. I cannot believe how such high-stakes baseball games - for almost all of the postseason - have gone so smoothly. My mindset for so much of this season is utter indifference if the Red Sox are trailing early because I know they will simply score a bunch of runs later on and win. And if they have to comeback twice in the game, then that's what they will do. I am not complaining about this.

Tonight's game was a perfect example. Chris Sale unleashed a devastating slider in the early innings, striking out the first two batters he faced. A few minutes later, Mookie Betts was batting with a 2-2 count. Three pitches later, the Red Sox had a run as Betts singled to center, stole second on the first pitch to Andrew Benintendi, and scored as Benintendi (4-for-5) lined the 1-0 pitch to right. Six pitches after that, J.D. Martinez singled to left-center and it was 2-0.

The Dodgers came back and tied the game - a Matt Kemp homer in the second and three consecutive singles in the third, with Manny Machado knocking the tying run in - but that was no big deal because the Red Sox retook the lead immediately. Benintendi singled with one out and Steve Pearce appeared to ground into a double play. But the Red Sox challenged the call at first and it was overturned. Martinez drove a 2-2 pitch off the center field wall for a run-scoring double. Xander Bogaert was intentionally walked, but Rafael Devers struck out.

Sale (4-5-3-2-7, 91) got two strikeouts in the fourth and had his first clean inning, but he had thrown 86 pitches to that point (21-30-21 14). When he walked Brian Dozier to start the top of the fifth, Alex Cora brought in Matt Barnes. Justin Turner grounded a single to left. Barnes struck out David Freese, but - with Machado batting - threw a wild pitch to put runners at second and third. Machado grounded out to second, which brought in the go-ahead run for Los Angeles.

Like Sale, Kershaw (4-7-5-3-5, 79) had his only clean inning of the night in the fourth, also with two strikeouts. And he departed with no outs in the fifth after Betts worked a nine-pitch walk and Benintendi singled to left. Ryan Madson's first pitch to Pearce was wild and the runners moved up to second and third. Madson threw three more balls to Pearce and the bases were loaded. Martinez, who had already singled and doubled and knocked in two runs, and seemingly had left his ALCS funk behind, struck out on three pitches. Bogaerts grounded to shortstop, but he beat the relay from second to avoid an inning-ending double play. Betts scored on that play and Devers's single into right scored Benintendi. The Red Sox led 5-3.

Devers - who turned 22 years old during the top of the ninth as the clock struck midnight - has knocked in a run in eight consecutive postseason starts, tying an all-time record shared by Lou Gehrig, Alex Rodriguez, and Ryan Howard. Devers's 13 postseason RBIs are the second-most for a player before turning 22 (one fewer than Andruw Jones's 14).

Joe Kelly had a strong sixth inning, throwing 14 pitches, 11 of them strikes. He struck out Kemp and Kike Hernandez and retired Yasiel Puig on a 3-1 grounder. Ryan Brasier began the seventh by getting pinch-hitter Joc Pederson, but another pinch-hitter, Max Muncy, singled to right. Turner also singled and Brasier then walked the Dodgers' third pinch-hitter of the inning, Yasmani Grandal.

Machado lifted Brasier's first pitch to center. Jackie Bradley made the catch, but Muncy scored, cutting Boston's lead to one run. During the inning, both Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez were warming up. EdRo came in and retired Cody Bellinger. It was the fifth time in 10 postseason games that Cora used a starting pitcher in relief.

Benintendi started the home seventh off Julio Urias with a fly down the left field line that eluded new left fielder Pederson and bounced into the stands for a double. Pedro Baez came in and Mitch Moreland (who was hitting for Pearce) went down 'swinging at shit around his eyes'. Martinez was walked intentionally and Baez dealt with Bogaerts. X was similarly attracted to Baez's high fastballs, missing pitches at his letters for strikes two and three. Devers was next - and when the Dodgers changed pitchers, bring in lefty Alex Wood, Cora countered with Eduardo Nunez. Wood threw ball one inside and then Nunez golfed another inside/low pitch that somehow carried into the Monster Seats in left for a three-run homer! Boston had opened up an 8-4 lead.

Nunez: "Alex talked to me earlier in the day. He said, 'Be prepared for something like that. If they bring in a lefty for Devers, you'll pinch hit for him. Make sure you're ready.' When [Wood] was warming up in the bullpen, I was ready."

At that point, it was safe to relax. Eovaldi got three groundouts in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel retired the side in order in the ninth. Kimbrel adjusted his delivery after ALCS 4 and he looked much better in Game 5. He looked better still tonight. Kimbrel poured in a fastball at 98 to Pederson before getting a grounder to second. Muncy took a called strike, then swung and missed twice, and walked dejectedly back to the dugout. When Kimbrel got ahead of Turner 0-2, he had thrown strikes on his first seven pitches. But then he threw three balls, though the pitches were nowhere as wild as the ones we saw last week. Turner fouled off two full-count pitches before fanning on an inside fastball at 97.

The Red Sox bullpen retired 15 of the last 18 Dodgers, including the final eight. After Barnes allowed a single with no outs in the fourth, Los Angeles would put only three more runners on base the rest of the night, all of them with one down in the seventh.

Nunez, Bogaerts, and Barnes praised Cora.
Nunez: "He watches a lot of video. He's very smart. I think that he's the reason we're here. Because every move we make, it's for a reason, and it's good reason every time he makes a move."

Bogaerts: "I want him to make the right move for three more wins. That is all we need."

Barnes: "A.C. made a great call putting Nuney in, but it seems like A.C.'s making the right call all the time. ... We've seen it time and time again. I don't think there's any coincidence to it. He knows the game. He's well prepared. And he's done a phenomenal job."
Benintendi became the third Red Sox player with four hits in a World Series game, joining Wally Moses (1946 Game 4: 4-for-5) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2007 Game 3: 4-for-5). ... He is also only the fourth left-handed hitter ever to get three hits off Kershaw in a game.

Boston's Last Four World Series Game 1s
        1st-Inning Runs        Total Runs
2004          4                    11
2007          3                    13
2013          3                     8
2018          2                     8
Boston led all teams with a 74-15 record when scoring first; they are now 8-0 when scoring first in this postseason.

Since 2004, they are 13-2 in World Series games, 7-1 at Fenway Park and 6-1 on the road.

It makes you wonder how little tension there will be in this series.
Clayton Kershaw / Chris Sale
Dodgers                     Red Sox
Brian Dozier, 2B            Mookie Betts, RF
Justin Turner, 3B           Andrew Benintendi, LF
David Freese, 1B            Steve Pearce, 1B
Manny Machado, SS           J.D. Martinez, DH
Chris Taylor, LF            Xander Bogaerts, SS
Matt Kemp, DH               Rafael Devers, 3B
Enrique Hernández, CF       Ian Kinsler, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF             Sandy Leon, C
Austin Barnes, C            Jackie Bradley, CF
The 114th World Series begins tonight at Fenway Park.

Game 1 will be the 44th World Series game played in Boston, fourth place among cities and only one behind Chicago.

This is the Red Sox's fourth World Series in the last 15 seasons - and they have won the previous three. The Dodgers lost to the Astros in last year's World Series. Before that, their last appearance was in 1988, when they beat the Athletics in five games.

Because the Red Sox won the AL pennant in five games, Sale did not have to pitch Game 6 a few days after being hospitalized for a stomach ailment. He is fully healthy and fully rested.

There are only two active pitchers with 1,000+ innings pitched and career ERAs below 3.00: Clayton Kershaw (2.39) and Chris Sale (2.89).

Boston made one change to its roster from the ALCS: Drew Pomeranz is replacing Brandon Workman.

During the introductions, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will receive the loudest and most positive ovation an opposing manager has ever received in Boston. ... Carl Yastrzemski will throw out the first pitch. (Members of the 2004 Red Sox, including Pedro Martinez, will throw the first pitch(es) before Game 2.)

Last October, numerous pitchers and coaches said the balls used in the World Series were slicker than normal. Heath Hembree said yesterday that this year's baseballs are slightly smaller and "definitely harder".
We play 162 games, spring training ... we're dealing with these balls every day so we know them really well. As soon as they try and switch something up you're able to tell. ... [W]hen we first got the balls we were like, "Wow!" ... Nobody is trying to even hide anything.
G1:  Tuesday, October 23   -  Dodgers at Red Sox, 8:09 PM - Clayton Kershaw / Chris Sale
G2:  Wednesday, October 24 -  Dodgers at Red Sox, 8:09 PM - Hyun-Jin Ryu / David Price
G3:  Friday, October 26    -  Red Sox at Dodgers, 8:09 PM - Walker Buehler / *
G4:  Saturday, October 27  -  Red Sox at Dodgers, 8:09 PM
G5:  Sunday, October 28    -  Red Sox at Dodgers, 8:15 PM
G6:  Tuesday, October 30   -  Dodgers at Red Sox, 8:09 PM
G7:  Wednesday, October 31 -  Dodgers at Red Sox, 8:09 PM
Anthony Castrovince (MLB.com) compared the two teams, position by position. He gave the Dodgers the edge at seven "positions" (catcher, first base, third base, shortstop, center field, starting pitching, and relief pitching) and judged the Red Sox better at four "positions" (second base, left field, right field, and DH/bench). Based on that, Castrovince predicts (incorrectly): Dodgers in seven.

When have the Dodgers and Red Sox played each other*?
June 21-23, 2002:   Red Sox go 0-3 at Dodger Stadium:   2-3, 4-5, 6-9
June 11-13, 2004:   Red Sox go 2-1 at Fenway Park:      2-1, 5-14, 4-1
June 18-20, 2010:   Red Sox go 3-0 at Fenway Park:     10-6, 5-4, 2-0
August 23-25, 2013: Red Sox go 2-1 at Dodger Stadium:   0-2, 4-2, 8-1
August 5-7, 2016:   Red Sox go 1-2 at Dodger Stadium:   9-0, 0-3, 5-8
*: Presented for informational purposes only. Fifteen games over fifteen years means nothing - and none of those teams are playing tonight, anyway.

More stuff:

The Red Sox went 13-13 against the Yankees and Astros during the regular season, but 7-2 in the postseason. They outscored their opponents 56-35 over those nine games, for an average score of 6.2 to 3.9.

Mookie Betts
led the majors in WAR, according to Baseball Reference (10.9). Betts tied Ted Williams (1946) for the second greatest Red Sox season of all-time. Carl Yastrzemski has the #1 season (12.5 in 1967).

led the majors with a .346 batting average, the first Red Sox player to lead both leagues in batting average since Wade Boggs (.366 in 1988).

is the first batter in history to win a batting title in either league and hit 30+ home runs and steal 30+ bases.

was only one extra-base hit shy of becoming the first American League batter to lead the majors in both average and extra-base hits since Mickey Mantle in 1956.

is only the third batter in Red Sox history with a .340+ batting average and 80+ extra-base hits. The other two are Ted Williams (4 times) and Jimmie Foxx (1938).
Martinez lead the majors in RBI (130) and total bases (358). He was second in average (.330), home runs (43), and slugging (.629), third in OPS (1.031), tied for third in hits (188), tied for 5th in OBP (.402), extra-base hits (82), and runs scored (111).

Martinez was one of only two batters with at least 100 RBI, 100 runs scored, and a .300 average:
Martinez           .330   111 runs   130 RBI
Christian Yelich   .326   118 runs   110 RBI
Red Sox Batters With A .325+ Batting Average, 40+ Home Runs, 125+ RBI
Jimmie Foxx      1936
Jimmie Foxx      1938
Ted Williams     1949
Mo Vaughn        1996
J.D. Martinez    2018
Betts and J.D. Martinez ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the majors in both average (.346, .330) and slugging (.640, .629). It's the first time teammates have finished 1st and 2nd in both of those categories in the same season since 1903 (Pittsburgh's Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke).

The Dodgers underperformed their Pythagorean Record by 10 games. A team scoring 804 runs and allowing 610 runs should finish 102-61. The Dodgers were 92-71. The Dodgers would have finished 16.5 games behind the Red Sox.

Los Angeles was 9 GB on May 8 and 10 games under .500 on May 16. At the end of May, they were 26-30. From June to September, they went 66-41. The Dodgers are one of only six teams in history to be 10 games under .500 and make it to the World Series.

Red Sox Regular Season Facts
The Red Sox finished with MLB's best record (108-54, .667) for the fifth time in franchise history - and the first time in 72 years. (They tied for MLB's best record in 2007 and 2013.)

The Red Sox had the best record in the majors when they hit a home run (85-24, .780), when they hit no home runs (23-30, .434), when they scored the game's first run (74-15, .831), and when they allowed the game's first run (34-39, .466).

The Red Sox had the best record in the majors in one-run games (25-14, .641). The Dodgers were 22-22 (.500).

The Red Sox's worst month of the season was September, when they went 15-11 (.577). That's a 93-win pace.

The Red Sox led all teams in runs scored (876), runs per game (5.4), average (.268), on-base (.339), slugging (.453), OPS (.792), doubles (355), and extra-base hits (594).

The Red Sox scored 5+ runs in an inning 27 times, the most of any team. They scored 5+ runs in a game 92 times, also tops in the majors. They went 80-12 (.870) in those games, including 60-6 (.909) after May 16.

The Red Sox stole 125 bases (for only the second time in the last 99 seasons). They ranked third in the majors in steals and second in stolen base success (80.1%, 125-for-156).

The Red Sox had the majors' third-lowest strikeout rate (19.9%).

The Red Sox hit four grand slams against the Yankees, the most in any season in team history. The Red Sox hit 10 grand slams; only the 2005 team hit more (11).
The Red Sox had one of the greatest seasons in history, despite having several key players on the disabled list. Dustin Pedroia missed 156 games, Eduardo Rodriguez  missed 47 games, Christian Vazquez missed 46 games, Chris Sale missed 37 games, Rafael Devers missed 31 games, Xander Bogaerts missed 15 games, and Mookie Betts missed 12 games.

And: ALCS 4 was only the second time in history in which a run was scored by either team in each of the first eight innings. Game 4 of the 1993 World Series between the Blue Jays and Phillies was the other.


Paul Hickman said...

It goes without saying that Dave Roberts knows far more than we do ....... But , for my money , he broke 1 of the late innings Postseason Commandments with Pedro Baez !!!!!! You are playing with Fire if you lift a bloke who is doing the business. I know the Stats say you do A , B & C according to righty v lefty etc. Dave essentially wanted to bump Devers out of the game & pitch to Nunez figuring the Maths was in his favour. But sometimes the Manager changes Pitcher & "walks" into a bagful of trouble. My reasoning is if you keep going to the Bullpen by "choice" , sooner or later you may well bring in someone who has a bad night ?

I understand certain Pitchers are constrained by Pitch Count & that is sensible , but to me if you have a Reliever doing OK in the late innings , then you stick with him & make the other lot "hit him" off the mound

Pedro Baez got Mitch & X to chase high heat & was looking fine to me. I didn't feel Devers was any threat ....... But Dave "played" the numbers & that was Goodnight !

It will be interesting to see if either Manager will do that again ? They both might just think twice next time ?

David Cho said...

It's beyond disturbing that you are this confident about the series. Will the Dodgers even put up a fight?

Baez used to be the fans' favorite punching bag. I used to joke that Baez must have Roberts naked photos somewhere to get that much playing time. In the past 3 months or so, he's been the only guy who never disappoints. Now Roberts is getting grief over taking him out of the game.

allan said...

I'm not saying the Dodgers will not put up a fight. Who knows, they might even win the series.

I'm thinking more of my attitude during games, how 2004, 2007, and 2013 have utterly and forever changed me as a fan and how this team came back so many times when I figured a game was lost. Even after I knew better than to give up, I would give still up - and they would come back and win. Now it seems almost routine.

In the 2007 ALCS, Cleveland led 3 games to 1. Boston needed to win three games in a row or their season was over. When I tell you that I had no worry or doubt that they would win the next three games, I mean NOT ONE CELL in my entire body harboured even a hint of a doubt. After all, they came back from 0-3 in 2004 - they will do it again. Now it's nuts to think like that - I knew it was nuts then. But there was no question in my mind that it would happen. ... And Boston won their next seven games, beating Cleveland for the pennant and sweeping the Rockies in the World Series.

This postseason feels inevitable. And so far, everything is keeping to that script. When I say it should not be this easy, I'm thinking more of what I am going through.

David Cho said...

Isn't the team's personnel very different from 2013 and definitely from 2004? In 2014, they finished last in the division. So what is the constant that exists in 2004, 2007, 2013, and today that instills in you this high level of confidence? The front office? I'm curious as I am still learning to be a baseball fan.

The only things constant about the Dodgers for me are the stadium and the fans which make up the game atmosphere. I always have a great time, but of course it does not always translated into a great result on the field.

allan said...

Isn't the team's personnel very different from 2013 and definitely from 2004? In 2014, they finished last in the division.

Yes, very different. There is only a handful of current players that were with the team in 2013.

So what is the constant that exists in 2004, 2007, 2013, and today that instills in you this high level of confidence? The front office?

I don't know. The only constant is me. And my experience of watching them every year. The front office - since 2003 - is progressive in its thinking, but far from perfect. Seeing a fairly steady run of success (despite the last place finishes) has given me a certain mindset, one I would have once thought absolutely impossible.

Laura can tell you that in 2003 and 2004 - which I will forever see as one long 24-month season and battle with the Yankees - my obsession was at an unsustainable level. After a bad loss, I would wake up the next morning still fuming. It was not healthy. But when the Red Sox were eliminated in the 2005 postseason, I was not upset. I can remember extremely clearly walking the dogs after the final out and not being upset. I was merely looking forward to the next season. "2003 Me" would not have recognized that person and probably would have questioned the true level of his fandom.

I have written before about how 2004 completely changed my baseball brain. I no longer expected anything good to go to shit at the worst possible time, as I had for decades. (And had plenty of evidence to back up that feeling.) A huge part of that shift was watching the 2004 and 2017 teams come back from deep, deep holes in the postseason. Everything seemed possible.

Paul Hickman said...

I can relate to your feelings - the Sox went from Perennial Losers to Winners & it took a while to get used to , but once you did it was a whole new ballgame.

I was philosophical when we lost to CWS in 2005 & like you still believed at 1-3 down to the tribe in 2007

It is a mindset element , we spent decades trying ( almost too hard ) to win & when we finally did , it was like going to the Moon & back ...... Life , Baseball & Sox Freaks would never be the same again - if memory serves the 14th Anniversary of that little underarm from Foulke to Mientkiewicz is just over 36 hours away ? My memory is 11.41am & 6 secs on Oct 28 in Perth ? Think it was 11.41pm & 6 secs ET on Oct 27 your time. My memory is normally pretty good & the time was hilariously ironic 11416 , Won 1 for ONE 6th ( as in 6th Title )