Boston Red Sox takeaways from first two World Series games
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox continue to accomplish postseason success with two World Series wins at home. This is just some casual observation on those two games.
The Red Sox and Dodgers take the show to Los Angeles with Boston “in control,” but anyone with a recollection of 2004 can say it’s not over until it’s over. The Dodgers will certainly be elated to leave the cold weather gear behind and return to an area where the only worries of nature are brush fires, mudslides, earthquakes, and heat.
When it was announced that Drew Pomeranz was added to the World Series roster my assumption was it was an article from the parody site “The Onion.” What had Pomeranz done to deserve such recognition and even the knocked around Brandon Workman had better splits against lefties? Somehow Pomeranz may just have a moment of positive glory.
John Smoltz was a better pitcher than Ron Darling and is a far better analytical contributor to the despised Darling. I do think the Red Sox Nation ire directed at Darling was a bit over the top, but I will take Smoltz on the mound or in the booth.
As a traditionalist, I had no great affection for the designated hitter, but have warmed up and accepted the concept. Now it is time for the two leagues to align since the DH is universally accepted except in the National League.
Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig are entertaining to watch. Bellinger for his hitting as he just has a nice stroke. As for Puig he is best described as a tad unstable on the field but has those moments when he is just dynamic. You wait for moments of both and sometimes on the same play.
Andrew Benintendi has my vote for being the best realist regarding his four-hit game. Benintendi was in full humble mode in a postgame interview by stating two of the hits were not exactly setting records on exit velocity.
Where did Max Muncy come from? I have seen the lefty hitter in the playoffs and am impressed with his 35 home runs in 2018. Muncy did nothing for Oakland and now looks like a latter-day Matt Stairs.
Eduardo Nunez’ concept of the strike zone is baffling since apparently any ball that is potentially reachable is worth swinging at. Then comes a moment such as his pinch-hit appearance when he rocked a pitch that to me looked unhittable. Nunez will undoubtedly have his $5 MM option picked up.
Neither Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale will jog my memory to comparisons to Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, or Curt Schilling. Kershaw is now 9-9 in the postseason and Sale is yet to show what the baseball world knows he is capable of.
I remain somewhat stunned over the Red Sox road accomplishments against the Yankees and Astros. This Red Sox squad proved to be road warriors with a team record for road victories and then winning five straight on the postseason road against two 100+ wins teams. Remarkable.
I hesitate to be vulgar but sometimes the necessity arises – Rich Honeycutt is an idiot. The Dodgers pitching coach as “upset” over “abuse” directed at Kershaw while warming up in the bullpen. I am sure Honeycutt’s plight will result in Red Sox fans congregating in the area to be as respectful as possible.
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Giving Honeycutt a run for the roses is former defensive incompetent Steve Sax. Sax’s knowledge of Boston baseball fans is about as notable as his ability to make a routine toss from second to first base. Sax was discussing the potential reception of Dave Roberts when being introduced prior to game one and said a “smattering of applause” would be likely since when playing the Red Sox the “fans hate you.”
Nathan Eovaldi is reliable in the bullpen and the rotation this fall and as a free agent, the money bags will be at his doorstep. One more excellent start and the Red Sox may be in a precarious situation if they fail to sign Eovaldi.
The most notable matchup discrepancy between the Red Sox and Dodgers is catching. The Dodgers group led the NL in home runs (28) and had a 3.9 bWAR. The Red Sox catching group was last offensively with just a .202 average, 11 home runs, and a -2.1 fWAR. Defensively the Red Sox had 24 Defensive Runs Saved and the Dodgers had 34. Naturally, the Red Sox catchers have three hits and the Dodgers crew is hitting .000.
And with catching this may be a World Series first. Five catchers are on the postseason roster and Blake Swihart, Yasmani Grandal, and Sandy Leon are all switch-hitters.
The Dodgers had 96 starts by lefties and the Red Sox had 105 by lefties in 2018. Not sure if that is a two-team record for World Series combatants. The first two games had lefties starting for both teams and that is a rarity.
Boston continued to be aggressive on the bases and did run into a few outs. J.D. Martinez poor stolen base attempt will not bring back memories of stolen base heroes of the past. The Red Sox, however, will not change their approach since the risk versus reward has been favorable to them all season.
The Dodger bullpen so far has not been kind to their starters as they have given up key runs before shutting down the Red Sox the rest of the game.
Joe Kelly is a soon to be free agent who has enhanced his value this postseason. I would have been tempted to omit the erratic Kelly from the postseason roster and was certainly not alone.