BU News Service
Powered by early offense, a strong bullpen performance and a three-run, pinch-hit home run by Eduardo Nuñez in the seventh inning, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Game 1 of the World Series on a chilly night at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
“From the first at bat, we put pressure on them,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said after the game. “That’s what we do. We stay off the edges of the strike zone. We attack pitches in the middle of the zone. We did an outstanding job offensively.”
Heavy rain and thunderstorms in the Boston area lingered before the start of the game, threatening to delay the first pitch. But the game proceeded as scheduled and once the skies cleared, Red Sox and Dodgers aces Chris and Clayton Kershaw squared off.
Neither was sharp.
The Red Sox struck early and often, piecing together two runs in the bottom of the first inning behind singles from outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi and designated hitter J.D. Martinez. Benintendi finished his first career World Series game 4-5, with three singles and a double. He also scored three runs.
“Up and down [our] lineup, there’s not an easy out,” Benintendi said. “We’re going to grind out at bats.”
In the top of the second, the Dodgers got on the board with a solo homer to left field by Matt Kemp. They drew the score even with Manny Machado’s RBI single in the top of the third, scoring third baseman Justin Turner.
Offense continued to dominate the early going– forcing both Sale and Kershaw out of the game without being able to record an out in the fifth inning. Sale gave up three earned runs on five hits through just four innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Kershaw– whose lackluster postseason performances have drawn criticism throughout his career– surrendered five earned runs on seven hits in his four innings of work, striking out five and walking three batters. His all-time postseason record dropped to 9-9.
“My slider wasn’t very good tonight. Didn’t have a lot of depth on it,” Kershaw said. “Made some mistakes in the zone too that they made me pay for. Just all the way around, wasn’t a great night.”
The game remained a back-and-forth contest until the bottom of the seventh, when pinch hitter Eduardo Nuñez belted a line-drive, three-run homer over the Green Monster that stretched Boston’s lead to 8-4, icing the game for good.
“I told him: ‘Be ready. You might have a big at bat tonight. Do your thing,’” Cora said. “And he did.”
Forced into the game early, the Red Sox bullpen—bolstered by an appearance from starter Nathan Eovaldi—pieced together a strong performance over five innings. While the unit has been the team’s Achilles heel this season, they gave up only one run on Tuesday; a sacrifice fly by Machado that scored Max Muncy in the top of the seventh.
Boston closer Craig Kimbrel, who struggled at times during the American League Championship Series against the Astros, pitched a clean ninth inning, striking out Turner to end the game.
The first pitch for Game 2 is scheduled for tonight at 8:09 p.m. Red Sox starter David Price will face Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.