Sunday, October 28, 2018

World Series Game 4: Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers (October 27, 2018)

I don't know about anyone else, but I was an absolute wreck after the marathon game three. Between going to bed after 3:00am and needing to be up at 7:00am to get my oldest daughter ready for her softball tournament, I was exhausted on Saturday, enough so that I took a nap (and anyone who knows me knows that I hate napping). Still bleary-eyed and groggy, I settled down to watch game four hoping the Red Sox would get some measure of vengeance after giving the previous game away. With every pitcher in the postseason starting rotation unavailable due to game three, Eduardo Rodriguez got the spot start for Boston while the Dodgers countered with former Red Sox (and Massachusetts native) Rich Hill.

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I really had no idea what to expect going into this game, but for the first six innings it was a classic pitcher's duel. Rodriguez was giving the Sox exactly what they needed while Hill stymied Boston's bats and held them to a single hit. For the second frustrating game in a row the top of Boston's order went hitless. I don't know what's happened but Mookie Betts (who, on the whole, has had a miserable postseason), Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and JD Martinez flailed away and couldn't get a hit to save their lives. The Dodgers finally broke through in the sixth and got on the scoreboard. Cody Bellinger hit a dribbler to Steve Pearce at first who threw to Christian Vazquez to get the out at home. Vazquez then tried to throw back to first to get the out but Bellinger was in the way and the throw got past Pearce allowing Justin Turner to score. That extended the inning for Yasiel Puig to crush a three run homer and put the Dodgers up 4-0. With the way Hill had been pitching and the Red Sox had (not) been hitting, that looked like it would be the game. With as tired as I was and another early softball wake up call looming (5:00am this time), I decided to go to bed. However, as I was getting ready to hit the sack, the Sox started coming back. The catalyst was Chris Sale screaming at his teammates in the dugout to fire them up, shouting out "this is embarrassing! Let's pick it up!" For some reason, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Hill after he surrendered a walk and brought Ryan Madson in. Madson has been awful in the World Series, allowing every inherited runner to score. That didn't change in game four; with two on and one out, he grooved a pitch to Mitch Moreland that was absolutely obliterated and missed going out of Dodger Stadium by a few rows. That cut the lead to 4-3 and made me decide to stay up and watch the rest. In the eighth, Pearce lofted a ball to left field that sailed over the fence to knot the score at four. Then in the ninth the Red Sox offense finally exploded. Brock Holt hit a double and was driven in by Rafael Devers' single. After loading the bases, Pearce came up again and ripped a double to the gap in right center field to clear the bases and blow the game wide open. The raucous Los Angeles crowd went silent and you could hear the air sucked right out of the place. Xander finished off the scoring with an RBI single to drive Pearce in and make it 9-4. LA got two in the bottom of the ninth when Kike Hernandez hit a two-run homer off of Craig Kimbrel, but it was too little to late and Red Sox stunned the Dodgers with the 9-6 win. That gave them a stranglehold on the series with a three games to one lead.

Boston Red Sox 2018 ALCS Champs

The Red Sox were outhit in this game 9-8, but they made every single one of theirs count, especially the seven they got after Hill exited the game. As has been the case for the last few games of this series, they've been carried by the bottom of the order. Holt and Vazquez each went 1-2, Devers and Moreland were both 1-1, and Pearce went 2-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. The top of the order, apart from Xander (1-4, an RBI and a run scored) was atrocious again, with Mookie going 0-4, Benintendi going 1-5, and JD going 0-4. It's mystifying what's happened to the top of the lineup in this series and the struggles of Mookie throughout the entire postseason continue to baffle me. The fact that this team is one win away from a World Series title and has dominated the entire series with their best hitters struggling is a testament to their depth and talent. They'll try to close it out tonight when David Price gets the start. He'll be going against Clayton Kershaw who did not pitch well in game one. Even if this series heads back to Boston, history and statistics are on the Red Sox side. While it would be nice to see them clinch a second World Series at home (as they did in 2013 versus clinching on the road in 2004 and 2007), I'd have no problem if they ended it in game five. This is for two reasons: so they'd win, of course, but also so that I can start getting some sleep again!

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