The winning didn't stop for Red Sox in the World Series

Rob Bradford
October 24, 2018 - 12:03 am

Remember when Chris Sale was supposed to be the be-all, end-all. You don't have the ace doing ace-like things in the postseason you don't have a chance.

Well, after their 8-4 win over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night, that narrative has certainly taken an about-face. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Sale lasted just four innings and one batter this time around, giving up three runs while needing 91 pitches to get that far. In three postseason starts, he has given the Red Sox just 13 1/3 innings. Not exactly Madison Bumgarner-esque.

No matter.

The Red Sox keep finding ways to win, bobbing and weaving their way to their eighth win in 10 tries this postseason. And they continue to do it without the Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Jon Lester or John Lackey. This time they decided the punctuation would be supplied by the third baseman most thought was going to be put out to pasture so that Rafael Devers could play postseason hero.

Eduardo Nunez's three-run, pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning was the Dodgers' death knell. Not something Sale did. Eduardo Michelle Nunez.

"I said it a couple times in the dugout, it’s a dogfight," Sale said. "We’re at the point now we have the two best teams in baseball and there’s pretty much zero room for error. Both teams are grinding. They’re grinding, we’re grinding. My job as a starting pitcher is to pitch as deep as I can into the game and win, but I just have to give my team a chance. Luckily for me I have an unbelievable offense, a great defense and they picked me up tonight. Wasn’t exactly how I tried to draw it up but at the end of the day when you have guys in my corner.

This is how World Series are won, just ask the 2007 champs who witnessed the last Red Sox pinch-hit homer in the World Series, coming from Bobby Kielty. Under-the-radar moves and players lead to very over-the-radar moments.

"Something that we talked about it today, when he came in probably he was a little bit disappointed that he didn't start, because he's been starting against every lefty," Cora said of Nunez. "But we felt Raphy was going to hang in there with Kershaw. And having him on the bench, it was going to pay off. You've got to keep a righty. Pearce is playing. Ian was playing. So keeping him in the dugout and out of the lineup was going to probably give us a chance to win the game. And it worked out. He was prepared. He wasn't upset, actually, that he wasn't playing. I told him, 'Be ready, man. You might have a big at-bat tonight and do your thing.' And he did."

While Nunez's homer was undoubtedly the most memorable moment from the night, the entire game felt like so many of the other Red Sox victories this month. Just good enough starting pitching. Relief work that didn't allow for too much agita. And an offense that offered a suffocating feeling for what turned out to be five Dodgers pitchers, including the other game's other ace, Clayton Kershaw, who allowed five runs over four innings.

Andrew Benintendi had four hits.

J.D. Martinez drove in a pair of runs with a rocket of a first-inning single, and a double just shy of the 420-foot mark in center field.

The guy Nunez replaced, Devers had his own run-scoring single before being lifted because Dave Roberts decided lefty Alex Wood facing Nunez was a better option.

Even Sandy Leon pitched in offensively, managing his first two-hit game since July 15.

And Alex Cora didn't do so bad managing his first World Series game, maneuvering around Roberts' four pinch-hitters on top of finding another way to get the game's 15 outs from his bullpen. (It was Matt Barnes to Joe Kelly to Ryan Brasier to Nathan Eovaldi to Craig Kimbrel.)

It all added up. That wasn't changing just because it's the World Series.

NOTES

- The winner of the first game of the World Series has gone on to win the title 12 of the last 15 seasons and 17 of the last 21.

- In 19 of the last 32 World Series beginning in 1985 the winner of Game 1 has also won Game 2.

- Of the previous nine times the Red Sox have won Game 1 of the World Series they have won the whole thing on six occasions, including the last three. The Red Sox lost the World Series after winning Game 1 in 1946, 1975 and 1986.

- Tuesday night marked the eighth time in the last nine years the home team has won Game 1 in the World Series.

- The Red Sox are now 8-0 when scoring first this postseason, having compiled a 75-15 record after getting on the board first in the regular season (best in the majors).

- Rafael Devers, who turns 22 years old Wednesday, is the first player in MLB history to record at least one RBI in each of his first eight career postseason starts.

- Game 1 marked the 26th World Series game in which neither starter lasted more than four innings and second consecutive World Series game. It is the second time it has happened in a World Series game at Fenway Park, joining Game 1 of the 2004 Series when Tim Wakefield tossed 3 2/3 innings and St. Louis' Woody Williams lasted just 2 1/3.

- Some notable faces in the crowd: Actor John Krasinksi; TV writer/Gwyneth Paltrow's husband Brad Falchuk; Wrestler Ronda Rousey; Musicians Jack White and James Taylor; Former Red Sox Shane Victorino, Mike Lowell, and David Ortiz.