October 24, 2018

World Series 2: Red Sox 4, Dodgers 2

Dodgers - 000 200 000 - 2  3  0
Red Sox - 010 030 00x - 4  8  0

Before the postseason, the Red Sox's bullpen was believed to be a liability. It has become a strength. David Price undoubtedly cast off a ton of psychic weight in the ALCS and it showed in his dominant performance on a chilly Wednesday night in Boston (6-3-2-3-5, 88). Price retired his last seven batters before a trio of relievers - Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi, and Craig Kimbrel - pitched three perfect innings. Boston rallied in the fifth, with J.D. Martinez snapping a 2-2 tie with a two-run single to right. The World Series moves west to Los Angeles, with the Red Sox holding a 2-0 lead. Rick Porcello will start Game 3 on Friday.

Since dropping the first game of the ALCS, the Red Sox have won six consecutive games. In those six victories, the bullpen has a 1.93 ERA (23.1 innings). In two World Series games, the pen has allowed only three hits and one run over eight innings.

Price began the night strong, throwing only 13 pitches in each of the first two innings and holding the Dodgers hitless until the fourth. By that time, the Red Sox led 1-0. Hyun-Jin Ryu (4.2-6-4-1-5, 68) gave up a booming double to Xander Bogaerts with one out in the second, the ball hitting about 85% of the way up the Wall. Bogaerts came around to score when Ian Kinsler (!!) lined a two-out single to left. Jackie Bradley singled to left-center, but Kinsler was thrown out at third base.

Los Angeles managed only three hits (all singles) and they all came in the fourth inning. David Freese led off with a hit to right. Mookie Betts came in and dove for the ball, but was only able to knock it down when it bounced in front of him. Manny Machado singled to center and Price walked Chris Taylor, loading the bases. Matt Kemp flied to center and Freese tagged and scored. Kike Hernandez struck out, but Yasiel Puig flared a single into center, scoring Machado and giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. (No one knew it, but Puig would be the Dodgers' last baserunner of the game.)

Ryu retired the first two batters in the fifth on only three pitches. Christian Vazquez lined a single to right and Mookie Betts grounded a single up the middle and into center. Andrew Benintendi - who (in Game 1) became the first player in history to have four hits and score three runs in his World Series debut - worked an eight-pitch walk. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in Ryan Madson with the bases loaded. Alex Cora left Steve Pearce in to face the right-handed reliever. Madson was wild and Pearce never took the bat off his shoulder, watching two balls, a called strike, and two more balls. That walk sent Vazquez home with the tying run. Martinez then dropped a single into right. Betts and Benintendi scored and it was 4-2.

Price had set the Dodgers down in order in the fifth, with Benintendi recording the first out with a beautiful running, leaping catch on Brian Dozier's fly to deep left (it's a meme!), and he did the same in the sixth. Joe Kelly struck out two in the seventh, Eovaldi had little trouble in the eighth (despite pitching on zero days rest for the first time in his career), retiring Justin Turner and two pinch-hitters, and Kimbrel needed only nine pitches to summarily dismiss the Dodgers in the ninth.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Red Sox's postseason dominance this month has been its uncanny ability to hit with two outs and runners at second or third. More than half of Boston's runs this postseason have scored with two outs (36 of 68, 53%). What is odd, though, is no one seems to know exactly how well the Red Sox are hitting in those situations.

Anthony Castrovince (MLB.com) wrote that Boston is "hitting .415 (17-for-41) with two outs and runners in scoring position. To put that in perspective, the next-highest team average for a postseason club with at least 30 at-bats in those situations belongs to the 1910 Philadelphia A's (.394)."

Ian Browne (also MLB.com) has the numbers at 17-for-39 (.436) and the Globe's Alex Speier states the Red Sox are "17-for-40 [.425] ... and perhaps even more incredibly, they have 11 walks against just seven strikeouts in those moments".

Hyun-Jin Ryu / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Pearce, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Kinsler, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
Tonight's first pitches will be thrown by seven members of the 2004 Red Sox: Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, and Alan Embree.

Eduardo Nunez swings at a lot of bad pitches that he should avoid. But I'm glad he swung at this one last night, though it's a mystery to me how he got it over the Wall.

Red Sox In World Series Game 1s
1903: Pirates 7, Red Sox 3
1912: Red Sox 4, Giants 3
1915: Phillies 3, Red Sox 1
1916: Red Sox 6, Dodgers 5
1918: Red Sox 1, Cubs 0
1946: Red Sox 3, Cardinals 2
1967: Cardinals 2, Red Sox 1
1975: Red Sox 6, Reds 0
1986: Red Sox 1, Mets 0
2004: Red Sox 11, Cardinals 9
2007: Red Sox 13, Rockies 1
2013: Red Sox 8, Cardinals 1
2018: Red Sox 8, Dodgers 4


Paul Hickman said...

It tickled my funnybone when 24 hours on Dave Roberts allowed Baez to pitch to Devers ..... He grounded out & I couldn't help smiling !!!!!!

Paul Hickman said...

Like most I was stunned with Nunez's HR ..... I watched it closely a few times just in case he did use a 59 degree pitching wedge !!!!!!!