After losing in demoralizing fashion in Game Three of the World Series on Friday night, the Red Sox bounced back less than 24 hours later with a pivotal, come from behind win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in nine innings on Saturday.
Learning he was going to start in this game hours before first pitch, Eduardo Rodriguez, who had already appeared in this series as a reliever, Eduardo Rodriguez put together a solid performance in this one up until the sixth.
Pitching into the sixth inning, the left-hander surrendered four earned runs on four hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts on the night.
Retiring 15 of the first 18 hitters he faced, things were looking great for Rodriguez until he plunked David Freese to lead off the bottom half of the sixth.
With his pitch count steadily rising, it seemed as though the Venezuela native’s evening was about to come to a close, but even after giving up a one out double to Justin Turner, intentionally putting Manny Machado on to load the bases, he remained in the game.
The sixth inning could have come to a close with Cody Bellinger grounding into a potential 3-2-3 double play, but instead, Christian Vazquez made a poor throw back to first, and Turner came into score as a result. 1-0 Los Angeles.
Just a few moments after that transpired, with runners on the corners, Rodriguez still remained in the game to face the right-handed Yasiel Puig, who made the most of the opportunity by blasting a 439 foot three-run home run much to Rodriguez’s disdain.
That would put the Dodgers up 4-0 and also put an end to Rodriguez’s night. It will be lost in the numbers, but given the circumstances, the 25-year-old gave the Red Sox what they needed.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (59 strikes), the former international free agent, who was caught by Christian Vazquez, relied on his four-seam fastball 45% of the time on Saturday and topped out at 96.5 MPH with the same pitch in the first inning. If this series were head back to Boston, that is when I would expect to see Rodriguez out of the bullpen again.
I would have more to say about Alex Cora’s decision to stick with Rodriguez in the sixth, but given how things worked out later on, I’ll give him a pass for now.
Anyway, in relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was not stretched thin in this one, as they were only responsible for the final 3.1 innings to close this thing out.
Matt Barnes entered with the bases empty in the sixth, and he worked his way around a two out walk to end the inning with a strikeout of Austin Barnes.
Joe Kelly was next up for the fourth time in the last five days, and he shined while scattering three hits and three strikeouts over two scoreless frames of work to eventually pick up the winning decision.
Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth with a fresh five-run lead to work with, and he trimmed that down to two on the way to securing the Game Four victory for his club.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill, who they were seeing for the first time in this series.
A native of Milton, Massachusetts, Hill, like Game Three starter Walker Buehler, had his way with the Boston bats early on.
No one could really couldn’t get anything going up until the seventh inning, when Chris Sale decided to light a fire under their bellies in the visitors dugout.
Coincidence or not, the bats got rolling after that, and it all started with a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts.
Four batters and two separate pitching changes later, Mitch Moreland came on for his first at bat of the night pinch-hitting for Matt Barnes.
With Ryan Madson, a pitcher Boston had success against at Fenway Park, on the mound for Los Angeles, Moreland did not waste any time screwing around, and promptly mashed a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw.
4-3 Dodgers on that 437 foot blast from Moreland.
An inning later, another Red Sox first baseman struck for a home run, as Steve Pearce took one deep off of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to knot this game up at four runs a piece.
In the ninth, looking for some insurance, Brock Holt ended up being the catalyst of a five-run inning by ripping a one out double off of Dodgers reliever Dylan Floro.
Hitting in Sandy Leon’s spot in the order, Rafael Devers came up to bat next, and as he has done so much this October, delivered with yet another clutch RBI on a single to center field that allowed Holt to score from second and put his team up 5-4.
They would not stop there, though.
Nope, Steve Pearce got another chance with the bases loaded, two outs, and Kenta Maeda on the mound for Los Angeles, and he came through yet again with a bases-clearing three RBI double to all but put this contest out of reach.
In case it was not enough, Xander Bogaerts was responsible for the final RBI of the night on an RBI single that plated Pearce from second and made it a 9-4 game, which is all the Red Sox would need to pick up their first win of the year at Dodger Stadium.
Some notes from this 9-6 victory:
From @SoxNotes: The 2018 Red Sox are the 3rd team ever to hit multiple pinch-hit home runs in a single World Series, joining the 1975 Red Sox and 1959 Dodgers.
From @MLBStatoftheDay: The Red Sox have scored 17 of their 23 runs in this World Series with two outs.
From @MLBStatoftheDay: Steve Pearce is the third Red Sox player ever to homer and drive in four runs in a single World Series game (Yastrzemski, 1967; Ortiz, 2004).
In 10 postseason games this year, Rafael Devers has collected nine RBI.
A quote from Devers about Chris Sale’s in-game speech:
With the opportunity to clinch their fourth World Series title Sunday, it will be David Price, not Chris Sale, getting the start for Boston in Game Five.
Alex Cora made that announcement following his post game press conference.
In two career starts at Dodger Stadium, Price is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings pitched. The Red Sox have won the last three postseason games the left-hander has started in.
Opposite Price will be another left-hander in the form of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who served up five earned runs on seven hits in four-plus innings pitched in his Game One start back on October 23rd.
Do they end it tonight or does this series head back to Boston? First pitch of Game Five of the 2018 World Series is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET on FOX.