The Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-4 in Game 1 of the 2018 World Series on Tuesday night. Though the pitching matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale failed to live up to its billing, the Red Sox nonetheless found a way to outslug the Dodgers en route to victory. The win means the Red Sox now possess a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, with a chance to move ahead 2-0 with another W in Wednesday night's Game 2.
Here's what you need to know about World Series Game 1.
Sale's velocity wavers again
Perhaps the biggest storyline entering the game was how Chris Sale would perform. He'd spent time in the hospital last week due to a stomach ailment, and had displayed reduced velocity since returning from the disabled list late in the season.
It's fair to say that Sale wasn't his typical self. He tossed four innings on 91 pitches, allowing five hits, three earned runs, walking two, and striking out seven. His velocity averaged 94 mph on the evening, but dipped throughout the night:
Sale generated 11 swinging strikes, with nine of those coming on his trademark slider. He generated just two swings and misses on 42 fastballs. The outing marked the first time in his career he threw so many pitches without lasting deeper into the game:
Sale figures to get another opportunity later in the series to prove he's hearty and hale. But Game 1 doesn't inspire confidence that the Red Sox have the top version of their annual Cy Young contender on hand. Maybe it won't matter -- look at the ALCS -- but it's worth watching.
Kershaw also falters
The night wasn't kind to Kershaw, either.
As with Sale, Kershaw exited after recording 12 outs. He gave up seven hits, five earned runs, three walks, and fanned five. It was the fourth time in history that both Game 1 starters departed without pitching more than four innings:
Kershaw threw 79 pitches, with just 27 of those being fastballs, per Statcast. He generated six swinging strikes on 52 breaking balls, but also gave up more hits on his slider in this appearance than he had in any start during the regular season:
As odd as it sounds, Kershaw's night could have been worse. He battled a tight strike zone and didn't seem to have his top stuff. Obviously he wasn't as effective as the Dodgers would have liked, and this won't help the narrative about his postseason struggles.
Benintendi has huge night
Andrew Benintendi is arguably one of the most underrated players in the game, a quality young hitter who is overshadowed by his MVP-caliber teammates. In Game 1, Benintendi made sure more people know his name.
Benintendi recorded four hits and, for the first time in his career, notched each against a left-handed pitcher. So much for playing the percentages. He scored twice and drove in a run himself.
Today marks the first time Benintendi has ever collected 4 hits against lefties in a game.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 24, 2018
Not bad for someone making his World Series debut, huh?
Nunez puts game out of reach
Eduardo Nunez has received more than his fair share of criticism this postseason. He's played below-average defense and hasn't made up for it with his stick.
Yet in a pinch-hitting assignment against Alex Wood in the seventh inning, Nunez all but ensured the Red Sox would win Game 1 by smoking a three-run home run to widen the lead. In the process, he became the first player to hit a pinch-hit homer in the World Series in nearly a decade:
Enough of those and nobody will remember what came before.
Machado has relatively quiet night
Manny Machado had a mixed night. On the plus side, he became the second Dodgers player in history to record three RBI in a game at Fenway Park:
On the negative side, Machado did that without committing maximum damage. He notched a single and a sacrifice fly, and he left two other runners on base.
Believe it or not, Game 1 marked Matt Kemp's first appearance in the World Series. He capitalized on the opportunity, hitting a home run in his first trip to the plate:
Kemp had previously ranked top-10 among active players with the most regular-season appearances without a trip to the World Series..
Betts scores free tacos
For some, the most important part of Game 1 was when Mookie Betts stole second base in the bottom of the first inning, thus ensuring America would receive free tacos courtesy of Taco Bell come Nov. 1.
Roberts gets warm welcome
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is a well-liked figure in Boston due to his contributions to the 2004 club that broke the Red Sox's championship drought. You may remember him stealing an important base. The Fenway Park crowd certainly did, and offered Roberts their appreciation prior to Game 1:
That'll probably be the final time Roberts is treated with such reverence on the road in this series..
History says …
You might be wondering what the empirical data says happens in seven-game series when the host team takes a 1-0 lead. According to the Baseball Gauge, those teams go on to win the series 65.6 percent of the time. The Red Sox, then, are in a mighty fine position.
Looking ahead, host teams that take a 2-0 advantage win the series more than 80 percent of the time. Going 1-1 drops that percentage to 54.9 percent.
The Dodgers and Red Sox will resume the World Series on Wednesday night. David Price will take on Hyun-Jin Ryu in another battle of southpaws. That game will begin at 8:09 p.m. ET and can be streamed on fuboTV (Try for free).
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