By: Jesse Cook (Sports Editor)
After an 8-4 win in Game 1 of the World Series, the Boston Red Sox look to knock out the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games. Clutch performances from Eduardo Nunez, who had a pinch-hit home run, Andrew Benintendi, who went four for five, and Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel, who pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings.
Why should the Red Sox sweep? LA is playing against what the Houston Astros’ head coach A.J. Hinch called a “Juggernaut offense.”
Last night, the Sox matched the Dodgers for almost every run they scored. The box score shows that there was only one inning where the Dodgers scored a run and the Red Sox did not. In the second inning, Matt Kemp hit a solo home run off of Chris Sale and the Sox did not answer in the bottom of the inning. That was the only time the Dodgers outscored the Red Sox in an inning last night.
The Sox also have a knack for taking pitches. Whether they are good or bad pitches, they stretch their opponent out. Granted, Sale threw 91 pitches by his departure in the fifth inning, but LA’s Clayton Kershaw had already thrown 79 by the same point in the game. When a pitcher throws upwards of 75 pitches, they usually do not have a lot of gas left. The reason Boston was successful with a tired Sale on the hill was that Boston simply has better fielding (also Sale struck out seven in just four innings of work).
Senior Jonathan Wald agrees that the Boston bats are incredible, but he also thinks that the Red Sox’ fielding is something to be envied. He said, “Our (Boston’s) explosive offense and absolutely superb fielding will let us win this series.”
Good defense is also something that the Dodgers do not possess. In order to keep their best bats in the lineup, Dave Roberts, Dodgers’ head coach, has to put Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger (two infielders) in the outfield or Max Muncy (a first baseman) at second base or Yasmani Grandal at first (he’s even a risk at his main position at catcher). The Sox have depth at every position. The only possible catch is that to keep J.D. Martinez in the lineup in the National League ballparks, Boston head coach Alex Cora is considering placing Mookie Betts at his old position at second base.
While Wald is confident in Boston’s powerful offense, he has some reservations about the performance about their stars’ bats. “The top 4 in the Sox’ batting order need to get it done better than in the previous series. We were very fortunate to have J.B.J. (Jackie Bradley Jr.) smacking the ball last series, but we can’t rely on him—needs to be all around offense from the Sox.”
The Sox were lucky to have such depth in their lineup against the Astros, and while they still need Mookie Betts, Benintendi, Steve Pearce, and Martinez to hit well, they still have the same depth. Rafael Devers and Sandy Leon each had important singles and Eduardo Nunez hit a pinch-hit three-run home run over the Green Monster on the second pitch of his at-bat against the tough Alex Wood. The Sox might not need their best hitters to be their best players, but Martinez also drove in two runs, Benintendi scored three times, and Betts scored twice.
Freshman Theresa Gilbert thinks that the Sox will win in five games or less because 108 regular season wins is no small accomplishment. She said she thinks Boston will win the Series, “Because they are the best team in baseball and they have already come so far.”
She said that teamwork is key in this series because one standout player is not enough to win four games. She said that “Everyone (needs to perform) because they are a team and they need to work together in order to win.”
Wald said that the bullpen has to perform well, more than anyone. He said that the “Red Sox’ bullpen is going to need a good series as they had with the Astros. Starters need to be going at least six (innings) to give the bullpen some room to work.”
The bullpen came through strong last night, but Cora’s philosophy has been a classic playoff bullpen philosophy. To him, the bullpen is every pitcher who has not pitched already in that game. Eovaldi is the probable starter for Game Three and Cora decided to bring him in for an inning last night. In the ALDS, Rick Porcello and Sale came in in relief in Game’s 1 and 4, respectively, and David Price was warming up when Benintendi made a diving catch on Alex Bregman’s bases loaded line drive in Game 4 of the ALCS. Sure, Ryan Brasier has only allowed one run this postseason (he allowed a sacrifice fly to Manny Machado last night) and Kimbrel has finally stopped tipping his pitches, but Cora has been relying on his top four starters, Sale, Price, Eovaldi, and Porcello.