In a game where more than three runs in a postseason game is traditionally enough to win, the Los Angeles Dodgers had 11 men on base during Game 1 of the 2018 World Series game, got four of them home…and lost.
Well, of course they did.
Reasons? Really good Boston offense to start. No surprise there. But also a couple of (Do we count them as meltdowns?) oddities by the Dodgers defenders who supposedly had oodles of necessary experience on their side.
David Freese has always been thought of as Mr. Clutch in the postseason but a defensive miscue by the first baseman in Game 1 for the Dodgers gave the Boston Red Sox extra chances.
And for a team that has come through when it counted time and time again during this postseason, extra chances are deadly.
Mookie Betts, the beneficiary of Freese overrunning a foul ball in the first inning, would get a hit, steal a base and score to put Boston up early.
Freese would be on the receiving end of a throw later that he didn’t reach for which allowed the Steve Pearce to reach first and then stepped but didn’t fully stretch as Xander Bogaerts beat out a double-play ball. Cody Bellinger makes both of those plays a lot closer if he’s playing first. Freese would have been a good choice to start at second considering Brian Dozier is not hitting his weight.
Speaking of weight, as in the world on their shoukders, starting pitchers, Boston’s Chris Sale and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw “dueled” through four innings before their new-age managers, Alex Cora and Dave Roberts pulled the plug on both of them.
L.A. reliever Ryan Madson came in and spiked a 55-foot curve ball and then allowed two inherited runners to score. You can’t blame Roberts, though, considering Kershaw’s history of getting in postseason trouble…but not getting out of it.
Still, the Dodgers battled and were down 5-4 thhanks in part to a walk by struggling pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal. Well of course he did.But then Joc Pederson appeared to pull up or at least alligator-arm a pop fly that gave Boston an extra base runner prior to an ill-advised decision to bring Alex Wood in against Rafael Devers.
That decision turned into an 8-4 lead.
That’s because Boston manager Alex Cora brought in noted bad-ball hitter Eduardo Nunez in Dever’s place. After Nunez and two other Red Sox had run around the bases following Nunez’ home run, the Sox once again had a crazy number on the board.
This time you can blame Roberts. The move was curious because Baez had been successfully getting Red Sox hitters to chase balls up and out of the strike zone and Devers seems to like the ball down.
Note to Clayton Kershaw: It’s okay to pitch up in the zone. It is not necessary for every pitch to be at the knees or in the dirt. As Crash Davis might say, it’s more democratic. It also keeps hitters off balance more.
In total, the Sox got more timely hitting and made fewer mistakes. Also, anything that could go right did. Andrew Benintendi got four hits off Kershaw. Sandy Leone hit .177 on the year and delivered two hits in the first game of the World Series.
Well, of course he did.