Thursday, October 25, 2018

World Series Game 2: Los Angeles Dodgers at Red Sox (October 24, 2018)

One of the biggest question marks heading into the postseason was what the Red Sox could expect out of David Price. Given his well documented struggles in the postseason, I along with the rest of Red Sox Nation hoped for the best but braced for the worst. After his disastrous game two start against the Yankees in the ALDS, it seemed like he was destined to never win in October. Then a funny thing happened in the ALCS...he pitched well. He was pulled from game two one out shy of qualifying for the win, but he'd been solid that game. He finally did what we all knew he was capable of doing in the game five clincher by spinning a gem and getting his first career postseason win. Of course, being Boston fans the narrative was then "well, did he really throw the monkey off of his back or was that just a one-time thing?" We were prepared to find out in game two of the World Series when Price made the biggest start of his life.

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From the outset, let me make one thing clear: for as bad as Tim Timmons was behind the plate in game one, Kerwin Danley was that much worse in game two. I hate complaining about umpire or referees even when it's warranted, but it definitely merits some comment here. At least Timmons called a (mostly) consistently tight strike zone; Danley was just a mess. He routinely called pitches in the identical location a ball one pitch and then a strike the next, and oftentimes within the same at bat! A pitch that clearly caught the corner of the plate would be called a ball while another pitch that was three inches off the edge would be a strike. He was consistently inconsistent and it affected both teams. To say it was maddening would be an understatement and it definitely extended some innings and increased the pitch counts for both starters, but the best players and teams have to overcome those kind of obstacles. The home plate umpiring didn't determine the outcome, but it sure made for a frustrating night. Speaking of frustrating, Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu was very frustrating for Red Sox batters and fans. Continuing a season-long trend, he was a guy who throws mainly off speed junk and kept the Red Sox off balance for most of the night. Coming into the game he wasn't a particularly good pitcher and his numbers on the road were even worse than at home, but the Sox have had trouble with pitchers like that all season and that continued on Wednesday night. It felt like they should've had five or six runs by the end of the third inning with the slop that guy was throwing, but they could only muster one run. That came in the bottom of the second when Ian Kinsler put them on the scoreboard first with an RBI single which drove in Xander Bogaerts. Price got into a jam in the fourth when he loaded the bases with no outs (and here, he was hurt by some questionable balls called by Danley which led to a couple of walks). Matt Kemp drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Yasiel Puig drove in another with a single before the inning was over. To limit the damage to only two runs there was excellent and at that point with the Sox down 2-1, I didn't blame Price at all. He'd been pitching well and as I've been saying all season (and my entire life), on any night where your starter is only giving up two runs, you'd damn well better be winning the game. The run support finally came when they began to put real pressure on Ryu in the fifth. After loading the bases with two outs, Ryan Madson came on in relief and promptly walked Steve Pearce to drive in the tying run. Then he surrendered a flare single to right field off the bat of JD Martinez which scored two runs and put Boston ahead 4-2. That was it for the scoring as Price completed six strong innings and Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi, and Craig Kimbrel each pitched 1-2-3 innings to close out the game and the victory. Two wins down, two to go.

Boston Red Sox 2018 ALCS Champs

Offensively, the Sox outhit LA 8-3 and again got contributions from a variety of guys. Mookie Betts was 3-4 with a run scored, JD went 1-4 with those two huge RBI, and Bogaerts, Kinsler, Jackie Bradley, and Christian Vazquez each chipped in with a hit apiece. Andrew Benintendi, who was a red hot 4-5 in game one, went hitless but did walk and score a run and he made one of the best catches I've seen on a ball scorched to left field in the fifth inning. He made a pretty good approximation of the Air Jordan logo and in doing so instantly became a meme. As for Price, he pitched great and the numbers don't do justice to how on he was. He was hurt by some horrible calls behind the plate that extended a few innings and upped his pitch count, but he still went six inning while only giving up three hits and two runs. The five strikeouts and three walks were affected somewhat by Danley's ridiculous strike zone, but I will take those numbers from Price every day and twice on Sunday. Red Sox pitchers combined to retire the final sixteen Dodgers in a row and Kimbrel again looked like his old self. With a 2-0 series lead, the teams now head to Los Angeles and warmer temperatures for the next three games. Rick Porcello will get the start in game three on Friday night and he'll be up against Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler. All the Sox have to do is take one of three in LA to come back to Boston with a stranglehold on the series, but seeing how they've been the ultimate road warriors all season and postseason I'm hoping they can do what they did in Houston and finish it off there. We'll see how it goes this weekend!

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