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The first (and last) time these two teams met in the World Series, the Dodgers were known as the Robins. Their lineup featured a young Perfessor, Casey Stengel, and the Red Sox boasted an up-and-coming hurler by the name of Babe Ruth. Both players went on to forge their legends as New York Yankees.
After more than one hundred years, Dodger Blue and Boston Red are once again locked in battle for the most prestigious title in American Sports. What many consider to be the best team in baseball opened at home against the upstart, never-say-die Dodgers. The teams sent two of the best pitchers of a generation to the mound in the quest of the first Series victory. This was looking like a fight for every inch of scoreboard real estate.
Chris Sales cruised through a three strike out first inning, while Clayton Kershaw was in trouble immediately. After a botched pop fly behind first base, Mookie Betts got a second chance, and he turned it into a single and a steal of second base. Kershaw gave up another single to right, and Yasiel Puig came up firing. It was an ill-advised and worse-executed throw to home. Puig missed high, and that gifted second base to Andrew Benintendi. Boston had the first run of the series.
Kersh got squeezed on his low slider by the ump, missed up high, and then delivered one belt level to J.D. Martinez (the old Dodgers nemesis from Arizona). Martinez drove the second run of the inning home with a single, and before you could say “Brooklyn Robins”, the boys were behind two runs.
Kershaw got a small measure of respect back when he picked off Martinez trying to steal second, and he finally closed out the messy inning with a pop up. Now it was the Dodgers turn.
At least, it was the DH, Matt Kemp‘s turn, as he blistered a Sales pitch up and into the Boston night. Kemp’s first World Series at bat yielded his first WS home run, sailing over the Green Monster, cutting the Sox lead in half.
Kershaw still looked lost in the second as he walked the lead off batter and gave up a single. The Fall Classic gods weren’t entirely against Kersh as he got a ground ball and Manny Machado turned that into a double play to end the inning.
The Dodgers kept their bats rumbling in the second as well. They got three straight singles from Justin Turner, David Freese, and Machado. Manny’s single drove home Turner with the tying run. The Sox roared right back and retook the lead 3-2 in the third.
Ladies and gentlemen, we had a dogfight brewin’.
As vulnerable as Kershaw looked, the Dodgers had been steadily hitting the unhittable Sales. After Brian Dozier walked to start off the fifth inning, Alex Cora pulled Sales , who was at 91 pitches. Matt Barnes came on for the Sox, and Justin Turner greeted him with a sharp single to right. There were now two on with no out.
A passed ball advanced the runners to second and third for Machado. He blasted one straight up the middle for an out, but an RBI…TIE GAME!
After Kershaw walked a batter and gave up a single to start the fifth, his night was over. He left after fighting baserunners in every inning, and behind in the score. He was not impressive at all. Ryan Madson came in and immediately uncorked a wild pitch, advancing both runners. After a four pitch walk, J.D. Martinez approached the plate.
Madson struck out Martinez on three straight (but differently located) fastballs. But he was still surrounded by crocodiles. He got an infield hit that Machado nearly turned into a DP, but Xander Bogaerts beat it out by a glove lace. The runner scored. That was followed by a base hit that scored Kershaw’s second runner. The Sox went up 5-3.
Julio Urias came in to pitch an uneventful sixth, and the Dodgers had their first stress-free inning of the game. The question remained – Could the Dodgers’ bats respond in time to get them back into the game?
The Dodgers picked up back-to-back, one out singles from PH Max Muncie and Justin Turner in the top of the seventh. PH Yasmani Grandal picked up a five pitch walk, and up stepped Senor Manny Machado. He flied off the end of his bat for the second out, but he picked up an RBI, his third of the night. 5-4 Sox. Cody Bellinger stepped in and decided to swing for the fences. That plan didn’t work. Inning over.
Speaking of plans that didn’t work – once again Dave Roberts got too cute for the game, and he managed the Dodgers into a loss. Julio Urias began the seventh inning, but he gave up a ground rule double, and was replaced by Pedro “Nails” Baez. We can all agree that seemed sensible. A good move. Baez struck out two (with an intentional walk to JD Martinez in-between). The potential fire was being stomped out.
And then the skipper activated the “STUPID” button.
With Rafael Devers coming up, Roberts lifted Baez and inserted Alex “I’m That Guy in the Bullpen who Gives Up Postseason Home Runs” Wood. Rookie World Series manager Alex Cora snickered (probably) and he went to PH Eduardo Nunez. Wood did what Wood does. He gave up a three run home run and the Sox sat atop a Green Monster-sized lead of 8-4.
The rest of the game was played by marionettes silently running out the innings, while Dodgers fans sat in a slow burn, or simply went on to other activities that would hopefully not crush their souls.
Game 2 tomorrow. Dave Roberts will still be the manager, so stay tuned to the next episode of “Does It Learn?”