Three. More. Wins.
That’s how close the Boston Red Sox are to their fourth championship in fourteen years.
And Game 1 was pretty spectacular. For the first time in 102 years, the West Coast and Best Coast faced off in the World Series, and they each brought their ‘best’ starters for Game 1.
Ahead of the game, rained plagued Boston for most of the day, deluge-level rainstorms replete with plenty of thunder and lightning. It was intense enough that people began to wonder if there would be a game at all.
But when the rain finally stopped less than two hours before the pregame ceremony, Fenway was decorated with a beautiful rainbow. The magic is intensified when you remember that a rainbow graced the ballpark ahead of Game 1 of the 2013 World Series, too.
Pregame ceremonies included Carl Yastrzemski throwing out the first pitch. Much like the rainbows, we’ve seen Yaz here before; the Boston legend threw out Game 1 first pitches in the 2004, 2007, and 2013 World Series. Perhaps he’s the lucky charm at the end of the Boston rainbow.
The game itself was both spectacular and weird. The Dodgers became the first team in World Series history to start an all right-handed lineup. Andrew Benintendi went 4-for-5 with an RBI in his World Series debut. We learned that Justin Turner and Craig Kimbrel are, in fact, two separate people. Sandy Leon had two hits, after only having two hits total since August 25th. Eduardo Nuñez came in as a pinch-hitter and blasted a 3-run homer to seal the deal. Rafael Devers started the game as a 21-year-old, and was 22 by the 9th inning. And of course, Manny Machado is still a bum.
Speaking of Rafael Devers, the birthday boy has quite the impressive postseason resumé. In just 11 career postseason games between last year’s ALDS and this October, Boston’s baby has a .364 batting average with 3 home runs (including an inside-the-park homer in Game 4 of last year’s ALDS) and 13 RBIs. He was 1-for-2 last night with a 2-out RBI to make it a 5-3 lead for Boston. Eduardo Nuñez brought a nice trio of cushioning runs with his pinch-hit homer later in the game, but it was Raffy who delivered the run when Boston really needed.
The eagerly-anticipated matchup of Kershaw vs. Sale, two of the best pitchers of this millennium. Kershaw had never pitched at Fenway before, nor had he ever faced the Red Sox. Unfortunately, neither starter really had their best stuff last night, giving up a combined 12 hits and 8 earned runs. Neither lasted longer than four innings, making it the fourth Game 1 in World Series history in which neither Game 1 starter made it past the four-inning mark. The last time was 2004 when Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and Woody Williams of the Cardinals Woody Williams opened the series.
Sale’s start was both impressive and stressful; he struck out 7, but walked two and gave up five hits and three runs. His pitch count was an alarmingly-high 91 pitches, and given his lengthy DL stint this season and illness last week, Cora decided to turn to his surprisingly-reliable bullpen earlier than anyone had hoped. Sale hasn’t lasted six innings since July 27th. While I hope that the Sox can quickly win this series, I wouldn’t mind a Game 5 rematch between these two aces in the warm Los Angeles air; we might get the pitchers’ duel we were hoping for.
In the end, the game was a battle of the bullpens. If you’d told me in September that the Red Sox bullpen would last through not only the ALDS, but the ALCS, and now into the World Series, I would have called 911 and sent you to Mass Gen for a brain scan. But Barnes, Brasier, Hembree, and Kelly have been pretty dominant. Kelly, especially, has amped it up this month. He has allowed just one earned run, and last night, was the only Sox pitcher to have a 1-2-3 inning. And now that Eric Gagne (throwback) has seemingly fixed Craig Kimbrel’s pitch-tipping problem, the leprechaun at the end of Fenway’s rainbow is looking more like himself. He closed the game throwing thirteen pitches, only allowing one hit and striking out two. His command was evident, his pitches unhittable. The Dodger bats literally had no idea what hit them.
So far, so good. We need to more power hitting from Mookie, JD, and Xander. I’d love to see JBJ continue his postseason clutchness. And it would be so wonderful if David Price was able to ride the momentum from his Game 5 performance straight into another flawless outing tonight.
Game 2 kicks off tonight in frigid Boston, with David Price on the mound for the home team, and Hyun-Jin Ryu starting for the Dodgers.
Photo: Yahoo! Sports