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Scattered thoughts after Game One victory

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the World Series on Tuesday night

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Red Sox took Game One of the World Series on Tuesday, giving them their 116th win of the season in their 172nd game. For those keeping track at home, that’s a .674 winning percentage when you include the postseason, which is pretty solid. Boston certainly came into this series as the favorites, and in the first game at least they looked the part. Of course, despite the four-run margin of victory by the end it wasn’t always that close, and most of the game was incredibly tense. Still, the Sox did what they had to do, which is exactly what they’ve done all year. Here are some thoughts rattling around the ol’ cranium the morning after this big Game One victory.

  • The story that has seemingly come to dominate the conversation around this game has been Alex Cora’s magic, which makes sense. He deserves every bit of praise he gets, and I’ll get to that. To me, though, the story of this game was the resilience of this offense and really the team as a whole. Boston got on the board early, which put the Dodgers in catch-up mode right from the get-go. The Dodgers did catch up, though. A few times. And every time they did, the Red Sox offense came right back around and did some damage of their own. In the third, the Dodgers tied the game at two, and then the Red Sox came right back and got the lead back in the bottom half of the inning. The Dodgers then tied it right back up in the fifth, and then in the bottom of the inning the Red Sox scored two more and took a two-run lead. A couple innings later in the seventh, L.A. scored one to come within a run of the Red Sox, and the bottom half of that inning was when Eduardo Núñez delivered the dagger with his three-run homer. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I know the exact extent to which momentum is a real thing, but if you believe in it even a little the Red Sox didn’t allow the Dodgers to get any sense of momentum in this game. To me, that was the difference.
  • That’s not to take anything away from Alex Cora, either. I’m going to talk about this in more detail later this morning so I won’t dive too deep here, but he’s a magician. It’s completely absurd how every string he’s pulled in this postseason has worked, and that was on full display in this game as well. I’m speechless at this point.
  • I’m going to talk about this later as well, but Eduardo Núñez got the moment he deserved here. It’s been a tough year for the Sox infielder, and he’s become perhaps the most hated player on this roster, but it was great to see him come through in this moment.
  • One of the few negatives in this game was Chris Sale, and I’m still kind of struggling to determine how much of a negative this was. Granted, the degree of negative is not really an important metric with six (at most) games left in the year. That said, Sale was both as good as he’s been in a while and not nearly peak Sale. On the positive side, I can’t remember the last time the Red Sox ace’s stuff was as impressive as it was on Tuesday. His fastball was getting up to 93-95 on a consistent basis despite the cold weather, and his slider was sharp. I didn’t notice a ton of changeups in this game, but when he did throw it the offering looked good. On the other hand, he wasn’t hitting his spots on a consistent basis, and it killed his pitch count. One of the staples of a Sale start is his rare ability to rack up strikeouts and keep his pitch count down, but he couldn’t throw consistent strikes in this outing. It wasn’t what we were hoping for, and he was picked up by his teammates more than anything else, but it was also weirdly a step in the right direction. Despite the disappointment, I’m feeling good about Sale in his next start.
  • We go from the starter to the closer, but this one is a different story. Hot damn Craig Kimbrel looked good. After getting some word on pitch-tipping from Eric Gagne — and I’m still not sure just how much this really played into his struggles for most of this postseason — Kimbrel closed out the ALCS and looked much better. He still didn’t look like peak Kimbrel during that outing. On Tuesday, he sure as hell did. That was as good as he’s looked since early-September, and maybe even earlier than that. Boston got this far with something far from peak Kimbrel. If that version is back, hoo boy.
  • It wasn’t just Kimbrel, either. The rest of the bullpen stepped up in a big way, too. Ryan Brasier and, to a lesser extent, Matt Barnes, were a little shaky but in the end they got the job done. Eduardo Rodriguez only faced one batter, but he got his man to end an inning and strand some runners. Then, there were Joe Kelly and Nathan Eovaldi, who both dominated their respective innings of work. This group continues to be a major key for Boston’s success.
  • The star of the offense in this game was clearly Andrew Benintendi. It was kind of a weird game for the Red Sox left fielder, and he actually had a few bad moments. He let a line drive fall in front of him when it appeared he could have had a chance at the catch. He picked up a base hit as a runner was just touching third base and still didn’t throw home. At least according to some beats in the press box, he also didn’t run hard out of the box a couple times. And yet, he went 4-4 with all four of his hits coming against lefties. That last part, with the hits coming against lefties, is the most impressive part of his night.
  • Sandy León had two hits. I have nothing to add to that.
  • This picture gives me life.
  • There was a lot of talk in the first two rounds about how quiet Fenway was despite the stage. I’m never one to criticize a crowd for lack of noise, because I am not exactly the loud and rowdy type. That being said, if the crowd is going to get criticism for the first two rounds they deserve some praise here. At least from how it seemed on TV, Fenway was rocking on Tuesday.
  • I hate being the Debbie Downer here, but we can’t forget about J.D. Martinez rolling his ankle in this game rounding second. It didn’t look great on replay, and while he stayed in the game these can sometimes be the kind of ailments that linger into the coming days. We’ll have to wait until later today when players and coaches start meeting with media to get some news. Until then, we hold our breath.
  • With a win on Wednesday, the Red Sox would be able to defend their home field for the first time in this postseason. Given how impressively they ran through the first two rounds, the fact that they split the Fenway games in both series is absurd.