One night Red Sox and Dodgers only needed the standard nine innings to decide Game 4 of the 2018 World Series on Saturday night. The Red Sox emerged victorious thanks to a that erased a 4-0 deficit. They won 9-6 (box score). Boston leads the series 3-1., the
Finesse lefty Rich Hill and power lefty Eduardo Rodriguez engaged in a pitchers' duel for five innings before the Dodgers broke through with four runs in the sixth. The Red Sox rallied to tie the game in the seventh and eight innings, and, in the ninth inning, Rafael Devers knocked the go-ahead single. The potentially decisive Game 5 is Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET, which can be streamed on fuboTV (Try for free).
Here is everything you need to know about Game 4 of the World Series.
The first pitch was excellent
Kirk Gibson, the 1988 NL MVP with the Dodgers and author of one of the most iconic home runs in baseball history, threw out the first pitch prior to Game 4. Well, no. Gibson caught the first pitch. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who served up said home run to Gibson, threw out the first pitch in an Athletics jersey. :
Pretty cool. Eckersley has been such a great sport about the home run over the years. It's one of the most recognizable highlights in history and he could either be a grump about it, or embrace it. He's chosen to embrace it and that makes it that much more fun.
It wasn't until the sixth inning that a runner reached second base in Game 4. For either team! Not a single runner advanced beyond first base until Justin Turner pulled a double inside the third base bag with one out in the sixth. The double sent pinch-runner Enrique Hernandez to third and prompted the Red Sox to intentionally walk Manny Machado to load the bases.
The Red Sox very nearly escaped the jam. Instead, the Dodgers broke the ice when catcher Christian Vazquez threw away a tailor made 3-2-3 inning-ending double play ball. First baseman Steve Pearce threw home for the force out, then Vazquez's return throw was off-line. That allowed Turner to score from second and give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
One batter later, all Puig broke loose. Take it away, Yasiel Puig:
Lordy. Puig's three-run home run seemingly broke the game open -- as much as a 4-0 lead can be considered "broken open," anyway -- and wow there's a lot to see there. Look at the bat flip. Look at Rodriguez spike his glove in frustration. Look at the crowd. So much emotion. I love everything about it. That is postseason at its best right there.
That home run is the third career World Series home run for Puig, tying him for the most all-time among Cuban-born players. The list:
- Jose Canseco: 3
- Tony Perez: 3
- Yasiel Puig: 3
- Yuli Gurriel: 2
- Sandy Amoros, Bert Campaneris, Tony Olivo, Zoilo Versalles: 1 each
The obvious question: Why was Rodriguez still on the mound to face Puig? It's possible the 18-inning game Friday night meant the Red Sox had a depleted bullpen, but Matt Barnes had been warming up in the bullpen and was presumably ready to come in. (He came in right after the homer.). Puig was much better against righties (.921 OPS) than lefties (.628 OPS) this year and has a reverse split for his career, though Puig was seeing Rodriguez for the third time. Given the final score, the decision to stick with Rodriguez ultimately didn't matter.
Rodriguez started on zero days' rest
OK, he threw only six pitches in Game 3 on Friday night and 16 pitches in the last 10 days, but Rodriguez still started Game 4 on zero days' rest. It had been nearly a century since a pitcher started a World Series game on zero days rest. The list:
- 2018 Game 4: Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox
- 1924 Game 3: Firpo Marberry, Senators
- 1911 Game 6: Red Ames, Giants
- 1910 Game 5: Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Cubs
- 1908 Game 2: Orval Overall, Cubs
- 1906 Game 6: Doc White, White Sox
Firpo Marberry? Red Ames? Orval Overall? Folks, those are some excellent baseball names. MLB needs more Firpos. Anyway, Rodriguez handled himself quite well on zero days rest, at least up until the Puig home run. He threw 93 pitches after not throwing more than 30 pitches since Oct. 6 or more than 50 pitches since Sept. 20. Rodriguez threw 78 pitches total in the postseason prior to Saturday night.
Also, Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the third inning. Took a fastball to the right forearm. Rodriguez was the first pitcher to be hit by a pitch in the World Series in a half-century, since Tigers lefty Mickey Lolich plunked Cardinals righty Nelson Briles in Game 5 of the 1968 World Series.
What a performance by Rich Hill. There was some starting pitcher drama after Game 3 -- Hill was slated to start Game 4 before the Dodgers switched it to TBA and then back to Hill (manager Dave Roberts said they considered using an opener) -- but Hill did indeed take the mound in Game 4, and he held the Red Sox hitless through four innings. Vazquez's single to right was the only hit he allowed on the night.
Hill is the first pitcher to allow no more than one hit in six-plus innings of work in a World Series game since Orlando Hernandez and David Cone did it back-to-back days for the 1999 Yankees in Games 1 and 2 against the Braves. Hill's the first Dodger with such a start in World Series history, if you can believe that. He was marvelous. He gave Roberts and Dodgers much more than I think they expected.
Madson struck again
Ryan Madson did it again. He is now 0 for 7 stranding inherited runners in the World Series. Roberts brought him into the seventh inning with two runners on base, and, after Jackie Bradley Jr. popped up to second for the second out of the inning, Madson left a changeup out over the plate to pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland. Moreland hit it near the top of the bleachers in right field for a three-run home run that turned a 4-0 deficit into a 4-3 deficit for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox, who had two pinch-hit home runs during the regular season, now have two pinch-hit home runs in the World Series. (Eduardo Nunez had a pinch-hit homer against Alex Wood in Game 1.) Also, the Red Sox are only the third team ever with multiple pinch-hit home runs in one World Series, joining the 1975 Red Sox and 1959 Dodgers. Baseball is a flat circle.
As for Madson, the seven inherited runners he's allowed to score this series are the most ever in a single World Series. He's only appeared in three games! Following Game 2, in which Madson inherited the bases loaded and allowed all three runs to score, Roberts said Madson has been "our guy for quite some time," and that's why he was in the game in a big spot. Roberts got burned using Madson with men on base in Games 1 and 2, and now again in Game 4.
Another blown save for Kenley
Another day, another two-inning save attempt, another game-tying home run allowed by Kenley Jansen. Bradley got to him for a solo shot in the eighth inning Friday night. On Saturday, Pearce got Jansen for a game-tying solo shot in the eighth. To the action footage:
Game 4 was the eighth career World Series appearance for Jansen and, in those eight appearances, he's allowed four home runs. Kenley allowed 13 home runs in 71 2/3 regular season innings this year after never allowing more than six homers in any other season of his career. The dinger bug caught up to Kenley this year and this postseason.
Also, know what's crazy? Prior to Pearce's homer, the 1-2-3-4 hitters in Boston's lineup were a combined 0 for 41 -- 0 for 41! -- in Games 3 and 4 in Dodger Stadium. That is almost impossible to believe given the talent the Red Sox have at the top of their lineup. Pearce's game-tying homer broke a very long collective slump for the top three hitters in the order.
Devers provided the big hit
Going into Game 4 the Dodgers were a perfect 54-0 when they took at least a four-run lead this season. They are now 54-1 after taking a four-run lead. Moreland and Pearce hit the home runs to tie it, and Devers provided the go-ahead single in the top of the ninth. Here is the proverbial big hit:
Brock Holt set that up with a little cue shot ground ball double just inside the third base bag against the shift. Devers was announced as the pinch-hitter and the Dodgers seemingly tried to get Wood warmed up in the bullpen, but couldn't do it in time, so Devers faced righty Dylan Floro. His ground ball had eyes and gave the Red Sox a 5-4 lead.
Devers has driven in 14 runs in 14 career postseason games now. At 22 years and three days, he is the youngest player to drive in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning or later of a World Series game since Edgar Renteria's walk-off single in Game 7 of the 1999 World Series for the Marlins. After Devers gave the Red Sox the lead, Pearce and Xander Bogaerts combined to drive in four insurance runs, and Craig Kimbrel shut things down in the ninth to close out the win. (Kimbrel did allow a relatively meaningless two-run home run to Hernandez.)
The Red Sox are one win away
One more win and the Red Sox will be World Series champions for the fourth time in the last 15 years. Historically, teams that take a 3-1 series lead go on to win the series 84.5 percent of time. It's 86.7 percent of the time in the World Series. The Red Sox now have three chances to win one game. Only once during the regular season did Boston lose three straight games. They're in a great spot, for sure, but that last win is always the toughest.
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