Rafael Devers
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Ninth-inning rally enables Red Sox to pull ahead 3-1 in World Series

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The Red Sox needed just three hours and 57 minutes to clinch their next win in Game 4 of the World Series. After playing the equivalent of two regulation-length games in Game 3, they wrapped up their third win of the series with a 9-6 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night, powered by a solid 5 2/3 innings from Eduardo Rodríguez, a game-tying blast from Steve Pearce, and a late rally in the ninth.

Call it déjà vu, call it two very good teams matching wits in another high-stakes game, call it a lesson about not leaving your starter in to face Yasiel Puig three times, but the first few innings of Game 4 felt oddly reminiscent of the scoreless stretch Walker Buehler and Rick Porcello put together in Game 3. Hill took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Christian Vázquez finally picked up a 2-2 curveball and set it down in left field for the Red Sox’ first hit of the game. That didn’t slow Hill down, however: He continued to mow down Boston’s lineup with inning after inning of scoreless ball, and by the time he passed the ball to Scott Alexander in the seventh, he had struck out seven of 24 batters and permitted just four baserunners in total.

It didn’t take nearly as long for the Dodgers to solve Eduardo Rodríguez. In the bottom of the second, Chris Taylor lined a base hit into left field for the first hit of the game, and while Rodríguez managed to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard for five straight innings, the bats came back to haunt him in the sixth. David Freese took a 88.4-MPH cutter off his knee at the top of the inning, then advanced to third when Núñez missed Justin Turner’s double down the third base line. With runners on second and third and one out, Cody Bellinger hit a ground ball that should have given the Red Sox the two outs they needed to cap the inning, except that Vázquez’s throw to first base bounced off the runner, giving Freese just enough time to put the Dodgers up, 1-0.

Things only got worse for Rodríguez from there. He intentionally walked Mookie Betts to get to Puig, who promptly hit one out to the left field bleachers for a three-run homer, his first of the World Series.

The Red Sox didn’t waste time getting even. In the seventh, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt took a pair of walks from Hill and Alexander, respectively, but it was Mitch Moreland‘s 437-footer that snapped the shutout and finally got Boston on the board. Dave Roberts swapped out relievers at every turn, first going to Ryan Madson to close out the seventh, then Kenley Jansen to start the eighth, but was still foiled by Steve Pearce, who pounced on a first-pitch cutter in the center of the zone and punched it out to left field for the tying run.

With flashes of another 18-inning contest in every player’s eyes, the Red Sox sent out Joe Kelly to put away the Dodgers in the eighth. Manny Machado laced a leadoff hit into center field, then scooted around to third on Chris Taylor’s two-out single to left. Even with runners at the corners and Yasmani Grandal in for Austin Barnes at the plate, though, the Dodgers couldn’t make it happen. Grandal worked a 2-2 count against Kelly and went down swinging on a 98.2-MPH fastball to end the inning.

Another marathon wasn’t in the cards for the clubs this time around. Against Los Angeles right-hander Dylan Floro, the Red Sox picked up the lead in the ninth as Brock Holt delivered a one-out double, followed by a go-ahead single from pinch-hitter Rafael Devers:

The hit couldn’t have come at a better time; the 22-year-old third baseman had gone 0-for-7 since his RBI single in Game 1 of the World Series. Alex Wood came in to relieve Floro, but the Red Sox kept chipping away, logging a run-scoring double from Pearce and an RBI single from Bogaerts to make it 9-4. In the bottom of the inning, Kiké Hernández belted one out to left to make it 9-6, but Craig Kimbrel worked out of another jam with his best Mary Hart impression and secured the Red Sox’ first win on the road.

Game 5 will commence a little later than usual on Sunday at 8:15 PM EDT. Left-handers Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw will meet on the mound for a rematch of Game 1 as the Red Sox try for the series win. Boston currently leads the series, 3-1.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]