By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave with a confession. I’m not fond of either of the money-loaded teams in the World Series and wish both could lose instead of being permitted to buy a World Series trophy. But it should be a great World Series because both teams have the best players fat checkbooks can buy.
—What was supposed to be a classic pitching match-up between Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale was insignificant in Game One of the 2018 World Series.
It turned into a Battle of Benches, pinch-hitter galore. And the Bosox won the battle when Red Sox pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez blasted a three-run home run over the inviting 37-foot high Green Monster in left field in the seventh inning, turning a one-run lead into an 8-4 lead that stood up for a Boston victory.
—LA manager Dave Roberts loaded his lineup with all right handers against left hander Sale, the first game in World Series history that a team had an all right handed lineup. Left handers around the world charge Roberts with prejudice. And it didn’t work to the Dodgers satisfaction.
—Sale struck out the first two in the first inning and gave up a broken bat single to David Freese in the first. That brought up Manny Machado to a Fenway Park ‘Boo Serenade.’ There is animosity between Sale and Machado, stemming from a slide Machado made that injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has not been the same since. Machado flied to left to end the inning. Machado, though, ended up driving in three runs later in the game.
—Boston leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, the likely American League MVP, was hitting .205 with no homers in the postseason when he came to bat. LA first baseman David Freese permitted a foul ball to drop behind him and Betts then rifled a single to center field. Betts quickly stole second and scored when Cincinnati native Andrew Benintendi singled to right and the Red Sox quickly jumped to a 1-0 lead.
—LA right fielder Yasiel Puig foolishly threw home and Benintendi took second, permitting him to score on J.D. Martinez’s one-out single and it was 2-0. That didn’t bode well for the Dodgers. The Red Sox were 7-and-0 in the postseason when they score first and 81-15 during the season. They are now 8-and-0 in the post-season and 89-15 for the season.
—Sale looked as if he had wipeout stuff as he faced Matt Kemp with one out in the second. Left handed sliders eat Kemp for breakfast, but on 3-and-2 Sale threw a fast ball and Kemp rocketed it over the Green Monster in left and it was 2-1.
—Kershaw struggled early. He walked Rafael Devers to open the second and catcher Sandy Leon, a .177 hitter this season, punched a one-out single to right, sending Devers to third. Kershaw escaped when Jackie Bradley Jr. scorched a 104 miles an hour bullet right at shortstop Machado and he turned it into an inning-ending double play.
—Sale struggled, too. He gave up three straight one-out singles in the third — Justin Turner, David Freese (his second hit) and Machado silenced the Fenway boo chorus with a run-scoring single to left to tie it, 2-2. Sale retired the next two but the last out came on his 72nd pitch in only three innings.
—A replay reversal led to a run for the Red Sox in the third. With one out Andrew Benintendi singled. Steve Pearce grounded to short for what appeared to be an inning-ending double play. But a replay-review ruled Pearce was safe at first, enabling J.D. Martinez to bang one off the center field wall to score Pearce and push Boston back in front, 3-2.
—Sale walked Brian Dozier to start the fifth on a 3-and-1 pitch and he yelled at umpire Tim Timmons, believing it was a strike. And it was his 91st and last pitch. He was replaced by Matt Barnes.
Barnes gave up a single to Justin Turner to put runners on second and third with no outs. With one out he threw a wild pitch, advancing the runners and Dozier scored the tying run when Machado grounded out to second.
—Kershaw, too, exited in the fifth when he walked Mookie Betts and gave up a single to Benintendi, replaced by Ryan Madson. It was Benintendi’s third hit off Kershaw, only the second left hander to go 3 for 3 against Kershaw in his entire career.
Just as Boston’s Barnes did, Madson threw a wild pitch to move the runners to third and second. Then he walked Steve Pearce on four pitches. He came back to strike out J.D. Martinez on three pitches. Xander Bogaerts grounded to short and Betts scored and the Red Sox led again, 4-3. Rafael Devers singled to right and it was 5-3 as the Bosox continue their passion for two-out run-scoring hits.
—LA manager Dave Roberts emptied his bench in the seventh with three pinch-hitters and it paid off with a run. Two pinch-hitters reached base, a single by Max Muncy and a walk to Yasmani Grandal to fill the bases. Manny Machado hit a sacrifice fly to center field, his third RBI, pulling the Dodgers to within 5-4.
—What Roberts can do, Boston’s first-year manager Alex Cora can do better. Cora used two pinch-hitters in the seventh and it paid off with three runs that decided the game.
Benitendi, a Cincinnati native, began the inning with his fourth hit, a ground rule double. Roberts brought in Pedro Baez and he struck out pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland, issued an intentional walk to J.D. Martinez and struck out Xander Bogaerts.
For some reason, Roberts took out Baez, who had struck out two, and brought in left-hander Alex Wood. Cora sent up Eduardo Nunez to pinch-hit and he crushed one over the Green Monster, a three-run home run and an 8-4 Boston lead, another huge two-out hit by the Red Sox.