BOSTON — As so often happens in the Major League Baseball postseason these days, a game billed as a battle of ace starting pitchers turned into a messy bullpen slog by the middle innings.
Neither Chris Sale nor Clayton Kershaw could record an out after the fourth inning in Tuesday night’s Game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and Dodgers at Fenway Park, and Boston relievers outpitched their Los Angeles counterparts to help the Red Sox to an 8-4 win.
After Sale got off to a strong start in the first, the Red Sox rallied off Kershaw in the bottom of the frame. Mookie Betts opened the Boston attack with a line-drive single up the middle, stole second, and scored on an Andrew Benintendi single to right field. A J.D. Martinez single plated Benintendi to give the Red Sox an early two-run lead.
The Dodgers fought back with a run on a Matt Kemp solo homer in the second and an RBI single by Manny Machado in the third. But the game wouldn’t stay tied long, as the Sox took another lead in the bottom of the inning on a long double to deep center field by Martinez.
Sale left the game after walking Brian Dozier to lead off the fifth inning. Matt Barnes relieved Sale and allowed Dozier to score three batters later, tying the game at four. But Boston put the first two runners in the bottom of the inning to chase Kershaw, and reliever Ryan Madson allowed both runs to score.
In the seventh, Red Sox pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez crushed a three-run homer over the Green Monster against Alex Wood to give Boston an insurmountable lead.
With one out, the bases loaded and the game tied in the fifth, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts smacked a ground ball to Machado that looked like a potential double play. But Bogaerts hustled out of the batter’s box and down the line to beat out second baseman Brian Dozier’s relay throw to first. Not only did Bogaerts’ effort allow the go-ahead run to score, but it extended the inning for Rafael Devers to single home Boston’s fifth run of the night.
Benintendi, the Red Sox’s left fielder, had hits in all three of Boston’s first three run-scoring rallies. The 24-year-old singled to drive in the game’s first run in the bottom of the first, then came around to score the second run of the frame. He singled and got erased on a fielder’s choice during the Red Sox’s rally in the third, then singled and scored again in the fifth. He led off the bottom of the seventh with an opposite-field blooper that fell in front of Joc Pederson and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. Benintendi became the third player in Red Sox history to record four hits in a postseason game, following Jacoby Ellsbury in Game 3 of the 2007 series and Wally Moses in Game 4 of the 1946 event.
Los Angeles will send Hyun-Jin Ryu to the mound in Wednesday’s Game 2 at Fenway as they look to even the series. Ryu finished the regular season strong, posting a 1.50 ERA over five starts in September, and threw a seven-inning scoreless gem against the Braves in the NLDS. But the Korean-born lefty was hit hard in two starts in the NLCS, allowing seven earned runs in 7 ⅓ innings against the Brewers.
Fresh off his heroic turn in Game 5 of the ALCS, lefty David Price will take the ball for Boston on Wednesday. Despite a well-documented history of postseason struggles, Price threw six scoreless innings on short rest to outduel Justin Verlander in the Sox’ series-clinching win over the Astros. Asked Tuesday if he felt relieved to put his October issues behind him, Price said, “Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time. And I'm definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it.”
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