David Price and the Sox bullpen
ON THIS DATE (October 24, 2018) ... The Red Sox pitching came through in a big way in this one. David Price proved that his ALCS performance was no fluke. Except for one so-so inning mixed in there, Price had complete and total control of this game and of the Dodgers lineup. After him it was Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel who all threw lights-out innings. The offense did what it needed to do, all with two outs, and that was that.
David Price officially closed out the Championship Series against the Astros with one of the best postseason starts in recent Red Sox history and easily his best postseason start of his life. This was now the expectation.
The first inning felt extremely important for Price and the Red Sox. He got off to a strong start in this game hitting corners and throwing his two-seamer in the 93 mph range. Price did allow a walk in that first inning, but that was it. He’d then come back with a 1-2-3 second before allowing just a walk in the third, and he got through his first 11 batters without allowing a hit.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was going up against another lefty in Hyun-Jin Ryu. They went down without much of a fight in the first, but they did get something going in the second and found themselves on the scoreboard first yet again. It was Xander Bogaerts starting things off with a double rocketed off the Monster for a one-out two-bagger, and a couple batters later he was knocked in on a two-out single from Ian Kinsler. With the 1-0 lead, Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up with a single of his own, but Kinsler got greedy and was thrown out at third base. It did take a perfect throw that magically snuck through Kinsler’s legs to get the out and it abruptly stopped the inning with just one run on the board.
From here we fast-forward to the top of the fourth, when Price was looking to continue his strong showing on the mound. His no-hitter disappeared when David Freese led off with a base hit that fell just short of a diving Betts’ glove. Manny Machado then followed that up with a single of his own before Chris Taylor drew a walk and suddenly the bases were loaded with nobody out. Matt Kemp quickly tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and after a huge strikeout for the second out of the inning, Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate. He jumped on the first pitch and got jammed, but he still managed to put it just over Kinsler’s head for a base hit, and the Dodgers left the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Now, it was up to the offense and they showed nothing in the bottom of the fourth, going down in order with two strikeouts in the mix. After Price came back for a scoreless fifth, the Red Sox did threaten in the bottom half. After two quick outs, Christian Vázquez came through with a two-out single, then Betts did the same and suddenly the tying run was in scoring position two outs for Andrew Benintendi. The outfielder would draw a walk, loading the bases and ending the night for Ryu.
The Dodgers brought in the right-handed Ryan Madson in this bases loaded, two-out spot, and Alex Cora stuck with his right-handed Steve Pearce. Pearce drew a walk to bring in a run and tie the game up at two. That brought up J.D. Martinez who drove a two-run single into right field and the Red Sox had a 4-2 lead after five.
David Price then got exactly the shutdown inning he was looking for, setting L.A. down in order in the sixth. That would mark the end of another very strong outing, one that featured just one tough inning.
With the score still 4-2 heading into the seventh, Joe Kelly came on for the Sox and he did what he’s done all postseason, and that is flat-out dominate. The righty got an easy 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts and an easy ground out.
After the Red Sox got a one-out double from Betts but nothing more, it was Nathan Eovaldi coming in for the eighth. Cora clearly wanted to get this win, and was willing to use his Game Four starter for two consecutive games to do so. He was pumping easy 100 mph fastballs, and he tossed an easy 1-2-3 inning.
That left it all up to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. He looked perfect again, getting a 1-2-3 inning of his own to finish up another outstanding performance from the bullpen.