2018 World Series: Dodgers trail Red Sox as series shifts west, but they have a history of improbable comebacks

On Wednesday, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2018 World Series. With the win, the Red Sox secured a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The teams have Thursday off for travel purposes as the series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3-5, but it's time to acknowledge that the Dodgers are in trouble -- big trouble.

According to Stephen Oh's SportsLine simulations, the Red Sox have a 77 percent chance of winning the World Series. Oh's model favored the Red Sox in Games 1 and 2, though it's leaning the Dodgers' way for Game 3, suggesting the series will go at least five games.

You might wonder, what about the empirical data -- what does history say about teams who lead or trail 2-0 in a best-of-seven series?

Somewhat predictably, the conclusion is more of the same. Per the Baseball Gauge, host teams with a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series have an all-time 41-10 record -- or a winning percentage over 80. (It's worth noting that host teams who split the first two games have won 54.9 percent of the time, and those who lost the first two games won just 12.5 percent of the time.) That's fantastic news for the Red Sox and terrible news for the Dodgers.

If there's hope for the Dodgers, it's that they've been in this spot before and found a way to win. Take a look at the 10 instances referenced above and you'll notice how often the Dodgers pop up:

Series

Winner

Loser

Final margin

1955 WS

BRO

NYY

4-3

1956 WS

NYY

BRO

4-3

1958 WS

NYY

MIL

4-3

1965 WS

LAD

MIN

4-3

1971 WS

PIT

BAL

4-3

1985 ALCS

KCR

TOR

4-3

2004 ALCS

BOS

NYY

4-3

1978 WS

NYY

LAD

4-2

1981 WS

LAD

NYY

4-2

1985 NLCS

STL

LAD

4-2

The Dodgers, as a franchise, are responsible for three of the 10 instances where a team down 2-0 after opening on the road ended up winning anyway. The 1955, '65 and '81 World Series-winning clubs all pulled off the feat. The Dodgers have also had the trick pulled against them thrice, in the 1956 and '81 World Series as well as the 1985 National League Championship Series. That means they've been involved six of 10 times a series winner has trailed by 2-0.

Obviously this isn't to suggest the Dodgers have some secret formula for pulling off 2-0 comebacks -- if they could magically switch on the boosters, they would do so beginning in Game 1 and save themselves the hassle. Their frequent involvement in these cases has more to do with their great number of World Series appearances.

Still, Dodgers fans don't have to look beyond their franchise's history to realize a 20 percent chance is not the same as no shot whatsoever. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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