Once again, Red Sox starter David Price pitched well in a postseason start. Before his start against the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS, Price owned a career 5.42 ERA in 79 2/3 playoff innings. He blanked the Astros over six innings with nine strikeouts, helping lead the Red Sox into the World Series.
Price wasn’t quite as sharp as he was last Thursday, but he put together another quality outing on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series. The lefty yielded a pair of runs on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts over five innings, tossing 88 pitches in the process. His career postseason ERA is finally under 5.00, at 4.91.
The Red Sox, as has often been the case in the playoffs this year, struck first on offense. Ian Kinsler ripped a line drive to left field with two outs to bring home Xander Bogaerts against Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers, who have been miserable with runners in scoring position this postseason, were able to put something together in the fourth. David Freese led off with a single against Price and Manny Machado followed up with one of his own. Price then walked Chris Taylor to load the bases. Matt Kemp lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Freese, then Enrique Hernández struck out, making it seem as if Price might escape the inning allowing just the one run. Yasiel Puig, however, gave the Dodgers their first lead of the World Series, dunking a single into right field. Price got out of the jam finally by striking out Austin Barnes.
Price worked a 1-2-3 fifth, seeming to stall any momentum the Dodgers may have had. The Red Sox then built up a full head of steam themselves, rallying for three runs in the bottom half. It looked like Ryu would have a stress-free inning, but with two outs, Christian Vázquez and Mookie Betts hit back-to-back singles. Ryu then walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases, ending his night. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in right-hander Ryan Madson to face a slew of right-handers. It backfired. Madson issued a bases-loaded walk to Steve Pearce on five pitches, forcing in a run. J.D. Martinez followed up by singling to right field, bringing home two more runs to make it a 4-2 game. Bogaerts struck out to end the inning but the damage was done. The Red Sox, by the way, scored all four of their runs tonight with two outs.
Price also put together a 1-2-3 sixth before giving way to Joe Kelly in the seventh, who did the same on just 11 pitches. Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided to call on Nathan Eovaldi, who has been excellent in October, for the eighth inning. Eovaldi followed suit, setting the Dodgers down in order, throwing 13 pitches himself.
In the top of the ninth, a new-and-improved Craig Kimbrel entered. Kimbrel, as has been widely reported, was informed he was tipping his pitches by retired reliever Éric Gagné. Before closing out the deciding ALCS Game 5, Kimbrel had allowed runs in each of his four playoff appearances, walking five of the 28 batters he faced. He looked much better in Game 5, following Gagné’s intervention, then struck out two in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth in Game 1. It was more of the same in Game 2. Kimbrel got Machado to fly out, then Taylor and Kemp to ground out, putting the 4-2 victory in the books. Red Sox pitching got the final 16 Dodger batters out consecutively.
With the Red Sox taking a commanding 2-0 series lead, both teams will take Thursday off to travel to Los Angeles. The World Series will resume on Friday night. If they sweep, the Red Sox can take home the championship on Saturday.