By Matt Citak
The first two games of the 2018 World Series are in the books. And with the Red Sox up 2-0, the series heads out to Los Angeles.
Baseball fans around the country were excited to watch two of baseball’s most talented aces take the mound in Boston Tuesday night. Despite all of the buzz that the Clayton Kershaw-Chris Sale matchup garnered leading up to the first pitch, the matchup between the two stellar southpaws did not quite live up to the billing.
By the time the top of the 5th inning came around, both starting pitchers had been removed from the game. Kershaw pitched four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Sale also pitched four innings, but got the better of his opponent, surrendering just three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Who would have thought this game was going to turn into a bullpen game?
But such was the case in Game 1, and at the end of the day, the Dodgers’ bullpen cracked.
The game remained a back-and-forth affair through the first six and a half innings of the game before everything changed in the bottom of the 7th, when the momentum swung entirely in the home team’s favor. Eduardo Nunez hit a pinch-hit three-run home run to bust the game wide open, giving the Red Sox an 8-4 lead that they would hold on to for the victory.
There were several key contributors to Boston’s Game 1 victory. Of course, Nunez becomes a hero for belting the three-run home run over the Green Monster. Martinez also played a large role in the win, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk.
But without a doubt, the MVP of Game 1 was Andrew Benintendi. After enjoying a breakout season, the 24-year-old got his first taste of the World Series Tuesday night. Unlike some others on the field, the young outfielder seemed totally comfortable at the plate. Benintendi went 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored, and consistently served as a catalyst for Boston’s offense.
Then came Wednesday night’s Game 2, which once again, proved to be more about the pitching than the offense. Red Sox starter David Price fought his way through six innings of work, allowing just two earned runs on three hits and striking out five while walking three.
On the other side, Dodgers lefty Hyun Jin Ryu looked to be cruising through 4.2 innings of work before he got into trouble with L.A. leading 2-1. With the bases loaded and two outs, manager Dave Roberts called down to the bullpen to bring in righthander Ryan Madson hoping to escape the jam. The veteran reliever failed to do so, issuing a walk to Steve Pearce that forced in the tying run before giving up a 2-run single to J.D. Martinez to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.
From there, it was the bullpen show, with the Red Sox relievers (Joe Kelley, Nathan Eovaldi, Craig Kimbrel) pitching three perfect innings, while the Dodgers relievers after Madson gave up just two hits and no runs. Boston’s pen closed out the 4-2 win, putting the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole heading back to L.A.
As we have learned countless times in the past, anything can happen once the calendar flips to October. The unlikeliest of heroes can emerge and enshrine himself in MLB glory with one swing of the bat or play in the field. The Dodgers have been in this exact spot in World Series’ past, and they have come back to win.
But, when the best team in baseball goes up 2-0 on the world’s biggest stage, it is difficult to see them losing four of the next five games.
Sorry, Dodgers fans, but the Red Sox will be taking home the franchise’s ninth World Series title.
Matt Citak is a contributor for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter.