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Scattered thoughts after another World Series win

It’s a 2-0 lead!

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Red Sox have now won 117 games that matter in 2018, which is pretty good! The latest also happened to give them a commanding 2-0 series lead as the team heads to Los Angeles to potentially close this series out over the weekend. The Red Sox lost their lead for the first time in the series during this game, but as this offense is wont to do they got it back fairly quickly after that. The offense wasn’t the story, though. This game was all about the dominant pitching, that was dominant for pretty much the entire game and held the Dodgers hitless for eight of the nine innings on the day. Here are some scattered thoughts from the morning after.

  • We have to start with David Price, who proved that his Game Five performance in the ALCS was no fluke and that he can, indeed, handle the postseason. We knew in our heart of hearts that was the case, but it was becoming easier and easier to doubt that with each passing October loss. This was a markedly different Price in the postseason, and it really looked like getting that last outing out of the way changed him. He looked as calm as I’ve ever seen him this time of year, and really he looked like he does in the regular season. There was a real weight taken off his shoulder, and it showed with his performance. Obviously he has the talent to do this, and it’s just so refreshing to see it happen. Oddly enough, I think the fourth inning — the one bad inning for the Red Sox pitchers in this game — was most indicative of the “new Price.” In the past, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would allow that rally to snowball and he would end up not making it out of the inning. That’s just how those sequences always seemed to go. That he not only limited the damage in that inning but also came back with two strong innings after that tells me that Price is over whatever was holding him back in October. Right now, he’s the Red Sox ace.
  • The bullpen, as has been the case after just about every game in this postseason, deserves a ton of credit too. Joe Kelly looks amazing right now. I will readily admit that I was a big-time Kelly doubter for most of this season and especially heading into this postseason. I’m still not sure how I feel about him long-term, but I am super sure I don’t care. I have every bit of confidence in him in the short-term. He’s mixing his pitches and throwing strikes, and while it sounds simple that’s what it takes for Kelly to succeed. If you don’t include the starters, there’s no way Kelly isn’t one of the two most-trusted relievers in this bullpen right now. That’s an incredible rise.
World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
  • Speaking of incredible, I’m not sure what else there is to say about Nathan Eovaldi. When the Red Sox traded for him in July, this was actually what I was expecting him to do in the postseason. I expected him to become one of their key late-inning arms and use his huge fastball to play up in short stints. He is the exact kind of pitcher who you’d expect to play up in these stints. Of course, I did not expect him to be doing this while also serving as one of the four starters. I have no idea if he’s going to start Game Four just yet (more on that in a second), but in the scenario where Boston sweeps and Eovaldi puts forth a strong start on Saturday there’s no doubt he’s the MVP. Of course, we’re a long way away from that.
  • It feels like Craig Kimbrel has kind of been lost in the shuffle after this game with everyone gushing over Price, Kelly and Eovaldi. There’s only so much praise to go around! Still, Kimbrel has looked amazing in the first two games of this series. The closer gave us some heart attacks early on and he has to answer for that, but right now he’s as crisp and dominant as ever. This is the Kimbrel we were expecting all month. Better late than never, I suppose.
  • How about some more Alex Cora decisions that went right? It’s to be expected at this point, as the Red Sox manager can do no wrong, but he pulled the right strings yet again in this game. For one thing, pulling Price when he did felt a bit early, though with the way Kelly had been throwing it was hard to blame him. Maybe the most second-guessed move for Cora on Wednesday was giving Ian Kinsler another start over Brock Holt. The veteran has, after all, looked totally lost at the plate for a while now. So, of course he came through with an RBI single that gave the Red Sox their early 1-0 lead. Later in the game, the Dodgers went to the right-handed Ryan Madson against Steve Pearce, and Cora stuck with Pearce rather than using Mitch Moreland to pinch hit. Pearce drew a walk to tie the game. Cora is magic.
  • Back to Kinsler for a minute, he did make a mistake right after knocking in that run. In the next at bat he ended the inning by getting thrown out at third. It was a mistake. I want to be clear about that. You don’t want to make the last out at third base ever. That being said, it wasn’t a disaster of a decision or anything like that. Chris Taylor needed to make a perfect throw with his momentum taking him the wrong way and that’s exactly what he did. Taylor also needed a little magic as his throw somehow perfectly nutmegged Kinsler to get him out. Again, Kinsler probably didn’t need to be that aggressive, but sometimes you just have to give some credit to the opponent.
World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
  • J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts have caught some flack for not really performing to their potential in this postseason, and that chatter has continued a bit in this series. Both players have performed really well though, and I think our expectations may just be out of whack. Martinez has had an OPS of at least .900 in each of the three series in this postseason and he has an OPS of .967 overall. He also has just two games without a hit. I am guilty of this as well, but Martinez is just so good that we don’t even notice anymore. The same goes for Betts. He hasn’t had that overall, out-of-his-mind game but he’s still been fantastic. He’s hitting .500/.556/.625 in the first two games of the World Series.
  • Andrew Benintendi made an impact on this game again, scoring a key run and making another phenomenal play in left field. Some have said he’s the World Series MVP so far, and it’s hard to argue too hard against it.
  • It’s been brought up by just about everyone at this point so I won’t go too deep on this, but Boston’s two-out success has been bananas. Their fifth-inning rally was particularly absurd. When Christian Vazquez came up with two outs and nobody on, the focus turned to the sixth. That was the inning where they could come back. But they just kept grinding and getting on base. Single, single, walk, walk, single. That is a demoralizing two-out, three-run sequence for an opponent.
  • Rafael Devers didn’t do anything really spectacular out there, but his defense looks so much better right now. I’m knocking on wood because we’ve seen him regress in this area before, but right now he looks in control of every play he makes. I’ve said it before but he does have the tools to be a solid third baseman. It’s just a matter of getting his nerves in check and trusting himself. Right now, that’s exactly what’s happening.
  • As for the next two games for pitchers, Alex Cora said Rick Porcello will pitch on Friday and Nathan Eovaldi might pitch on Saturday. It all depends on whether or not they use him in relief in Game Three. Having that kind of versatility on the pitching staff is wild. Additionally, I love that Cora is going for the jugular in each game and worrying about what comes next after that. That’s how you manage in the postseason.
  • My one negative takeaway from this game: get outta here with all these ads! I feel very much like an old man here, but it is what it is. The green-screen ad on the center field wall was bad enough, and now they are introducing these mini ten second commercials between pitches. That would be great if it reduced commercial times between innings, but alas it does not. The YoutubeTV one is particularly annoying because I have YoutubeTV and every time that ad starts it makes it look like I accidentally rewound the live feed. I hate it a lot.