Two down, two to go. Whereas Game One was all about the offense for the Red Sox, the pitching came through in a big way in this one. David Price proved that his Game 5 of the ALCS performance was no fluke, and while he wasn’t quite as dominant this time around he still looked great. There was one bad inning mixed in there, but for the most part Price had complete and total control of this game and of the Dodgers lineup. After him, Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel all threw lights-out innings. The offense did what it needed to do, all with two outs, and that was that. In the blink of an eye (compared to Game One’s pace), it was a 2-0 series lead for the Red Sox.
Last week in the ALCS, David Price officially got the monkey off his back. At least, that was the narrative. He 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. It was the version of Price we’ve been waiting basically his entire career for, and the version of Price this Red Sox team needs to get where they want to go. With the monkey off his back, the narrative had changed. This was now the expectation. He had a hell of a test on Wednesday, going up against an all-righty Dodgers team that was looking to come back after a disappointing Game One.
As generally feels like it’s the case, the first inning felt extremely important for Price and the Red Sox. There was always going to be pressure in a World Series appearance, particularly as he was looking to prove that last outing was not a fluke. Fortunately for the lefty and the Red Sox, he got off to a strong start in this game. He came out hitting corners and throwing his two-seamer in the 93 mph range, which is exactly what he’s looking for. 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 coming off a big-time performance in Game One when they scored eight runs off Clayton Kershaw and company. They were going up against another lefty in Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game Two, and while his name value doesn’t match that of Kershaw, the former had a terrific 2018 (albeit an injury-shortened one) and was unfamiliar to most of this Red Sox lineup. It showed for much of this evening.
Boston’s offense 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. There, it was Xander Bogaerts starting things off with a double rocketed off the Monster. On a warmer night it may very well have carried over the wall, and in most parks it would have been a homer. Instead, he settled 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 was a little too aggressive for my blood, but to be fair it did take a perfect throw that magically snuck through Kinsler’s legs to get the out. Either way, 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. He did not do so. Instead, 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. It was going to take a near-miracle to get out of this inning with the lead still intact, and Price couldn’t find the right trick. 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 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 to find a groove against the cruising Ryu. They showed nothing close to a groove 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 big bases loaded, two-out spot, and Alex Cora stuck with his right-handed Steve Pearce. You won’t believe what happened next! It wasn’t as great as the Eduardo Núñez decision in Game One, but Pearce did draw 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 rough inning.
With the score still 4-2 heading into the seventh, Joe Kelly came on for Boston. 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 somewhat surprisingly 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. It did not look like he was a starting pitcher on his second game of a back-to-back in freezing temperatures. 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. Two more left.
After holding down home field for the first time all postseason, the Red Sox now have a day of rest before picking things back up in Los Angeles. They’ll be back in action on Friday with Rick Porcello taking on Walker Buehler. First pitch is at 8:09 PM ET.