RECAP: Eduardo Nunez Comes off Bench and Mashes Three-Run Home Run as #RedSox Take Game One of World Series from Dodgers.

After a five-day layoff that involved celebrating winning the American League pennant, waiting to see who they would play, getting in some light workouts, and fulfilling media obligations, the Red Sox were finally back in action on Tuesday night, as they welcomed the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers into Fenway Park to begin the 2018 World Series.

The last time these two clubs matched up in the Fall Classic, Babe Ruth was on the Red Sox and the Dodgers, who went by the Robins at the time, called Brooklyn, New York home.

That series took place 102 years ago in 1916, when Boston took four out of five games from Brooklyn to claim their fourth World Series title.

Now, both of these organizations truly represent the cream of the crop in baseball, as they make up two of the highest payrolls in the league.

Their paths to get to this point were a little different, with the Red Sox claiming the best record in the American League and the Dodgers having to play a Game 163 in order to claim their sixth straight NL West crown. But still, they got to the position where they would be a few steps away from the ultimate goal, and the journey to that goal began last night.

Getting the start for the Red Sox in this one, his first ever World Series nod, was ace Chris Sale, who hadn’t seen any in-game action since Game One of the ALCS because of a stomach ailment.

Pitching into the fifth inning under the bright lights at Fenway, the left-hander surrendered three earned on five hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the evening.

Similar to his previous two starts this postseason, Tuesday’s outing was another grind for Sale.

A scoreless first, followed by facing a combined 11 hitters over the next two frames where the Dodgers plated their first two runs on a Matt Kemp solo home run in the second and a Manny Machado RBI single in the third.

The Florida native would rebound by retiring the side in order in the fourth, but his night would ultimately come to an end after walking Brian Dozier on five pitches to lead off the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (54 strikes), Sale, who was caught by Sandy Leon, threw 33 sliders, 30 four-seam fastballs, 16 changeups, and 12 two-seam fastballs in his first career World Series start, which induced 11 total swings and misses.

Out of those 30 four-seamers, the 29-year-old managed to top out at 96.2 MPH with that pitch in the first inning.

Unable to pick up the winning decision because of the rather short outing, I would expect to see Sale back on the mound in a starting capacity on Sunday in Game Five, if the series reaches that point.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final 15 outs of this one, and they were quite effective as a group once again.

Matt Barnes got the first call with the tying run on first and no outs in the fifth, and he allowed that inherited runner to score on an RBI ground out from Manny Machado in an otherwise clean frame that earned him the winning decision.

Joe Kelly was next up for the sixth, and he continued to impress with another scoreless relief appearance, striking out to along the way as well as hitting 100.1 MPH on the radar gun at one point.

Ryan Brasier entered the seventh with a two run lead to protect, got the first out, then proceeded to load the bases for the Dodgers on two singles and a walk with Manny Machado due up next.

Fortunately, he was able to hold Machado to a sacrifice fly, which saw Boston’s lead cut down to one run.

That made way for Eduardo Rodriguez to make his World Series debut with the left-handed Cody Bellinger coming up to bat for Los Angeles, and he got the job done by getting Bellinger to fly out to center to send this game to the middle of the seventh.

Nathan Eovaldi was responsible for the eighth inning after his team had just jumped out to a four run lead, and he got the only three hitters he faced to ground out in a scoreless inning.

Finally, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel came on in a non-save situation and put together his second straight shutout performance by striking out the final two Dodgers he faced to secure the Game One win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another ace left-hander in the form of three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who was making his first career start at Fenway Park on the biggest possible stage.

Starting the scoring right away in the first was Mookie Betts, whose leadoff single, followed by a successful steal of second base, would result in Boston’s first run of the night crossing the plate on an Andrew Benintendi RBI single.

On that play, Benintendi was able to advance to second thanks to a poor throw from Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, and he too would come around to score on a one out RBI single off the bat of JD Martinez. 2-0.

Two innings later, after the Dodgers had bounced back to knot this thing up at two runs a piece, Benintendi and Martinez linked up again, as the DH would drive in the left fielder from first on a one out line drive RBI double off the center field wall. 3-2.

In the fifth, both Betts and Benintendi reached base to lead off the frame, which resulted in Clayton Kershaw departing from this contest having only recorded 12 outs.

So, with runners at first and second and veteran reliever Ryan Madson now into this game for Los Angeles, Steve Pearce came to the plate, took four straight balls, one of which was a wild pitch, and set up a huge spot with the bases loaded for JD Martinez.

Already with a pair of RBI under his belt up to that point, it was honestly shocking to see Martinez fan on three straight hittable pitches from Madson, but Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers salvaged things by driving in a combined two runs on an RBI ground out and an RBI single. That gave the Red Sox a fresh 5-3 lead, but they were not done yet.

Fast forward to the seventh, moments after the Dodgers had made it a one run game in their half of the inning, Eduardo Nunez came to the plate with two outs and the chance to tack on some insurance runs for his club.

Pinch-hitting for Rafael Devers with runners at first and second and left-handed reliever Alex Wood on the mound for Los Angeles, Nunez swung at the second pitch he saw, an 84 MPH knuckle curveball located on the lower half of the strike zone, and ripped it 373 feet into the first row of Monster seats in left field.

Alex Cora may in fact be a genius.

That three-run blast padded Boston’s lead up to four runs, which is all they would need to pick up this pivotal opening World Series victory.

Some notes from this 8-4 win:

From @MLBStatoftheDay: Eduardo Núñez is the first player to have a World Series pinch-hit home runs since Hideki Matsui (Game Three, 2009).

Andrew Benintendi went 4/5 with one RBI Tuesday night, and according to @SoxNotes, Benintendi is the third player in Red Sox history to collect four or more hits in a World Series game.

Looking to go up two games to nothing headed into a cross-country flight to Los Angeles, it will be David Price getting the ball for Boston in Game Two of the World Series.

Making his first appearance in a World Series since his rookie year in 2008, the left-hander is fresh off six scoreless innings and his first winning decision as a starter in the postseason in his last time out against the Houston Astros in Game Five of the ALCS.

In his career against the Dodgers, Price is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings pitched over two starts.

Opposite Price will be another left-hander for Los Angeles with South Korea native Hyun-Jin Ryu getting the nod for Game Two.

In only one career start against Boston back in August of 2013, Ryu surrendered four earned runs over five innings in a losing effort. Not like that means much now, though.

First pitch of the second game of the World Series is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET Wednesday on FOX.

 

#RedSox Announce 25-Man World Series Roster with Drew Pomeranz, Not Steven Wright, Taking Brandon Workman’s Spot.

The Red Sox announced Tuesday their official 25-man roster for the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All appears to the be the same as it was for the ALCS, but a closer look will reveal that Drew Pomeranz somehow found his way onto this roster.

It was reported yesterday that the club expected to add knuckleballer Steven Wright to the roster and either Brandon Workman or Heath Hembree, who was Wright’s replacement, were going to be swapped out in order for that to happen.

Instead, Wright gets left out, probably because of lingering knee issues, and Pomeranz is in, much to the surprise of just about everyone.

In his second full season with Boston, the 29-year-old posted a 6.31 ERA over 51.1 innings pitched as a starter before he was demoted to the bullpen in early August, where he posted a slightly less unsightly 5.56 ERA over 22.2 innings pitched and 15 appearances as a reliever.

Heading into the winter as a free agent, I can’t imagine this is how Pomeranz expected his 2018 campaign to go after a solid 2017, but if given the opportunity, he’ll have the chance to up his value heading into the offseason.

As for what role the Tennessee native will have in the Red Sox bullpen, well, I would have to imagine it’s more of a lefty specialist than anything. Come into the game, get someone like Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, or Joc Pederson out, and make way for someone else.

With this move, Alex Cora and the Red Sox now add another left-handed option out of the bullpen to go along with Eduardo Rodriguez.

It should be interesting to see how much usage Pomeranz gets come 8:09 PM tonight.

 

Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale Are as Good as It Gets to Open up a World Series.

Two of the most dominant left-handers in all of baseball are set to square off in a pivotal opening game of the 2018 World Series on Tuesday night after both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox announced who their starting pitchers would be for the first of a best of seven Fall Classic.

Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, two elite hurlers who have represented their respective leagues a combined 14 times at the MLB All-Star Game, were officially named the starters for Game One of the World Series tomorrow, and although there may not be much history between them, there is still much to look forward to.

Since the start of the 2010 season, no left-handers have been more valuable to their teams than these two aces.

Kershaw, in nine seasons with the Dodgers, has been worth 55.6 fWAR, while Sale, in nine seasons spent with the White Sox and Red Sox, has been worth 41.8 fWAR.

In terms of accolades and pitching in big game situations, Kershaw, a Texas native, has Sale, a native of Florida beat.

The recipient of three National League Cy Young Award crowns and one MVP award in 2014, Kershaw also has five ERA titles under his belt to go along with one Gold Glove in a pitching Triple Crown in 2011 when he led the NL in wins, ERA, and strikeouts.

Not only that, the 2006 first round pick has pitched in 28 postseason games (22 starts), with three of those coming in the 2017 World Series.

Over that span, Kershaw has posted a 4.09 ERA and a .210 BAA in 141 IP, all with a 9-8 record.

On the other side of things, Chris Sale has yet to receive any honors for the spectacular regular seasons he has put together and has only appeared in five postseason games, but keep in mind the quality of team each of these aces has pitched for.

Since he exceeded his rookie limits during the 2008 season, the worst record a Clayton Kershaw Dodger team has finished with was 80-82 in 2010.

Meanwhile, before he was traded to the Red Sox prior to the 2016 season, the worst record a Chris Sale White Sox team finished with was 63-99 in 2013.

Game One will be Clayton Kershaw’s first ever time pitching at Fenway Park, while Sale has ony made one career start at Dodger Stadium.

Both were drafted early in their respective drafts, both were elite prospects at one point in their minor league careers, both have started All-Star Games, and both have been in the running for Cy Young Awards.

Now, both have the chance to give their club an early 1-0 advantage in the 2018 Fall Classic at Fenway Park.

It should be a blast. First pitch is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET Tuesday on FOX.

Mookie Betts at Second Base for the World Series? According to Alex Cora, That’s a Possibility.

Red Sox All-Star Mookie Betts is and has been regarded as one of the best outfielders in baseball for years now, and that was on full display this past week in the American League Championship Series.

Despite that, conversation at Fenway Park, where light workouts were taking place on Saturday, mostly revolved around the position Betts grew up playing, second base.

Yes, the former 2011 fifth round pick signed out of high school rose through Boston’s farm system as a second baseman, and it wasn’t until 2014 when he was moved to the outfield in order to make his path to the majors a little more simpler with Dustin Pedoria regularly patrolling second at the time.

That all transpired when Betts was still at the Double A level with the Portland Sea Dogs. On June 28th of that same year, the Tennessee native was promoted to Boston from Triple A Pawtucket and his made his highly touted debut the following day against the New York Yankees, starting in right field.

Since then, according to Baseball Reference, Betts has played in 644 major league games, with 15 of those coming at second and the other 629 coming in the outfield with a little bit of DH mixed in there as well.

As recently as August 3rd of the 2018 regular season, the 26-year-old appeared in a game as a second baseman once again, in another game against the New York.

With Alex Cora already ejected and Ian Kinsler having exited in the third inning due to a left hamstring strain, acting manager and current Red Sox bench coach Ron Roenicke seemingly asked Betts if he would move over to second for the remainder of that night’s contest.

“I don’t know if [Roenicke] told me [to play second],” Betts said. I kind of asked if I could play second. He asked if I was sure and I said, ‘yeah.’ I went and got an infield glove. He told me I was at second, and before I went out on the field I went up and asked him if he wanted me to go to second. He said yeah, so at that point, I was running. I wasn’t sure that he really wanted me to go to second, so I ran out there.”

Pretty funny exchange, really.

So, Betts went out to his old position, made a few nice plays, and moved back out to right field in the eighth before finishing the night 1/4 at the plate.

We haven’t seen the three-time All-Star back at the positon since that time in early August, but that could change come Game Three of the World Series.

When asked by reporters about keeping JD Martinez, the usual DH, in the lineup while the team is playing at a National League ballpark, the hypothetical idea of Betts moving  back to second base was brought up by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“I don’t know, man. He already played second in the regular season. There’s always a chance, I guess.”

What Cora did make clear, though, is that his league leader in RBI will play everyday.

“We’ve got some pretty good second basemen, we’ve got some pretty good outfielders,” Cora said. “Like I said, we’re in the World Series. That conversation was gonna come up. One thing for sure, J.D. will play. That’s clear. We’ll see which alignment is better, which lineup is better and we’ll make decisions accordingly.”

The World Series is set to begin this upcoming Tuesday night at Fenway Park, and it’s looking like the Red Sox will match up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stay tuned for more coverage.

Quotes via MassLive.com

 

 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz Gives up Two-Run Homer in First Inning as #RedSox Fall to Astros in Series Opener.

Coming off a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in Boston, the Red Sox headed down to Houston to kick off a four-game series last night. Although it is still decently early in the season, I had this series circled in my calendar. The Astros are coming off their first World Series championship in franchise history last fall, and they just so happened to beat the Red Sox in the ALDS to get there. With both teams improving over the offseason, I was excited for this matchup.

In his eighth start of the season on Thursday, Drew Pomeranz did not have the best of first innings. After walking Alex Bregman on five pitches in between getting the first two outs, the lefty got taken deep to left by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.

That 389 foot shot put the Astros up by two runs early and, despite some close moments, they would not have to look back.

After the Red Sox got those two runs back in their half of the third, the Astros struck for another two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Thanks in part to giving up two hits to the first three batters he faced to leadoff the inning, Tony Kemp drove in JD Davis from third to make it a one run game. That was followed by a bunt off the bat of outfielder Jake Marisnick which allowed Davis to score from third.

After Sandy Leon caught Marisnick trying to steal second to end the fourth, Pomeranz would go on to pitch one more inning, a 1-2-3 fifth to end his night.

So far this season, the lefty has only been able to pitch past the fifth inning twice in eight starts, and those came in back to back outings against the Royals and Yankees in early May. All and all, four runs in five innings against a juggernaut like the Houston Astros is not too shabby, so at the very least, he has earned himself another start.

In relief of Pomeranz, Alex Cora only needed to turn to one pitcher, and that pitcher was Steven Wright. The knuckleballer kept the Red Sox in this game while scattering one hit and three walks over three shutout innings pitched thanks to some help from Rafael Devers in the eighth.

With this most recent performance, Wright now owns a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched since being activated from the restricted list on May 14th. Over that stretch, opponents are only hitting .167 off the California native. If Pomeranz’s struggles were to continue, Wright would be my first choise to take over his spot in the rotation.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox were without Mookie Betts for the fifth game in a row due to that left side tightness he has been dealing with. The Red Sox were also without Dustin Pedroia, who was scratched from the original lineup because of soreness in his surgically repaired knee.

So that all happened quickly before the game started. Then in the second inning, it looked like Rafael Devers was going to have to leave the game after colliding with Astros starter Lance McCullers at first base, but he was fine.

An inning later, the Red Sox scored their only two runs of the night off the bat of Xander Bogaerts on an RBI double that scored both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi on a close play at the plate.

Fast forward to the ninth, trailing by two runs, and the Red Sox made things a little interesting. With Astros closer Ken Giles on the mound, a two out single from Sandy Leon and a walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Blake Swihart. Unfortunately, as was the theme for the Red Sox last night, Swihart appeared to make solid contact with a 88 MPH slider from Giles, but it was hit right at Jake Marisnick in center field. That killed any shot at a rally and ended the winning streak at three games.

Some notes from this one:

According to Statcast, the eight hardest hit balls last night all belonged to the Red Sox. Four of them went for hits, while the other four went for outs.

Andrew Benintendi finished the month with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. In May, he slashed .349/.411/.633 with 6 HR and 23 RBIs.

JD Martinez finished the month with a 0-for-3 day at the plate. In May, he slashed .299/.370/.729 with 13 HR and 25 RBIs. American League Player of the Month right there.


With the series opener out of the way, the Red Sox will look to rebound in the second of four games later tonight. Chris Sale will be getting the start in this one, and he is coming off one of his more disappointing starts of the season last time out against Atlanta. He will be matched up against former Pittsburgh Pirate Gerrit Cole. In his first season in Houston, Cole currently leads the AL in strikeouts with 109 of them on the season. Who is in second you ask? Well, that would be the other starter in tonight’s game, the aforementioned Chris Sale, who has 104 K’s in 2018.

A primetime pitching matchup to kick off the weekend. Couldn’t ask for anything better on a Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET, time to even this series up.

 

The #RedSox have officially hired Alex Cora as their 47th manager.

After weeks of speculation, the Red Sox have officially named Alex Cora as their manager for 2018. The announcement was made official this afternoon, as Cora has inked a three-year deal with the club. Cora, who spent the better part of four seasons with Boston from 2005 to 2008, will look to tap into this teams full potential. Inking a three-year deal, the 42-year-old will not have too long of an adjustment period with his “new” team. The only player who remains from his playing days in Boston would be none other than Dustin Pedroia. The two won a World Series together back in 2007, and I’m sure that’s the type of attitude and Culture Cora will want to instill here.

Acquired back on July 7, 2005 for Ramon Vazquez, Cora proved to be valuable to the Red Sox despite never playing all that much. In the 301 regular season games he appeared in for the Red Sox, the infielder hit .252 with 6 HRs and 61 RBIs.

Known as one of the best baseball minds in the game, Cora began coaching with the Houston Astros at the beginning of this season under AJ Hinch. Ever since John Farrell was relieved of his managing duties, Cora was the heavy favorite to replace him. There were rumors that Ron Gardenhire would be the choice, but he has already signed with the Detroit Tigers to be their new manager.

Personally, I’m excited by this move. I remember liking Cora when he played here, he helped Dustin Pedroia get to where he is today. He could have been selfish and not wanted a rookie to take his job, but he was key in developing Pedroia back in 2007 and 2008. It appears that Cora is a better communicator than Farrell, and he may understand more since he has not been out of the game as a player for too long. I’m not saying this move guarantees a championship next year, but it definitely helps.