Hunter Pence’s struggles caused him to be dropped to sixth in the order in Game 4 tonight, but he has responded in a big way.
Pence launched a long solo home run to left field off Adam Wainwright in the top of the second inning to get the Giants on the board. According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, it traveled an estimated 451 feet.
Pence entered tonight’s action hitting just .161 (5-for-31) with no extra-base hits or RBI this postseason.
Pete Kozma reached on a fielding error to lead off the bottom of the second against Tim Lincecum, but he was quickly erased on a stolen base attempt. Not exactly the best idea to give away outs to the guy who is struggling. Lincecum walked two in the inning, including opposing pitcher Adam Wainwright, but he managed to escape and keep the score at 2-1. Still, he’s already at 44 pitches, so it’s unlikely he’ll last long in this one.
The Giants had a chance to tie it up in the top of the third inning when Angel Pagan reached on a two-out triple, but Wainwright got Marco Scutaro on a comebacker to end the threat. The Cardinals lead this one 2-1 as we move to the bottom of the third inning.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.