Red Sox light up Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers to take Game 1

ByBradford Doolittle ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

BOSTON -- For seven months, the Boston Red Sox's offense has looked unstoppable. In Game 1 of the World Series, neither rain nor future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw could stem Boston's red tide.

Behind a career night from Andrew Benintendi and a game-breaking, three-run pinch home run from Eduardo Nunez, the Red Sox outlasted the Los Angeles Dodgers to win 8-4 at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Benintendi went 4-for-5, with three singles and a double, drove in the first run of the game and scored three times. All of Benintendi's hits came off left-handed pitching, including three against Los Angeles ace Kershaw.

Benintendi became just the fourth Boston player with a four-hit game in the World Series, joining Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007 and Wally Moses in 1946. At 24, he's the second-youngest Red Sox player with a four-hit game in the postseason.

The young left fielder had plenty of help. J.D. Martinez had a couple of searing RBI hits, Mookie Betts scored a couple of runs, and Rafael Devers had a key RBI single. And Nunez provided the big blow.

Still, the Dodgers hung close, tying the game 2-2 in the third and 3-3 in the fifth. They closed within 5-4 in the seventh on Manny Machado's sacrifice fly. Boston protected the lead when Eduardo Rodriguez got Cody Bellinger out on a shallow fly to center with two men on base.

That set the stage for Nunez, who hit for Devers with two runners on after Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called lefty Alex Wood in from the bullpen. Nunez turned on a Wood offering and rifled it over the Green Monster in left. According to Statcast tracking, Nunez's blast had an exit velocity of 106.8 mph, his hardest-hit dinger in the past two seasons.

The offensive fireworks occurred despite the much-anticipated showdown between Kershaw and Boston ace Chris Sale. Neither pitcher recorded an out after the fourth inning. It was the first time in World Series history that two pitchers who had recorded 300-strikeout seasons had faced each other.

Martinez gave Boston the lead with a rocket double off the center-field fence in the far expanses of Fenway Park, a 109-mph shot that drove in Steve Pearce from first to put the Red Sox ahead 3-2 in the third. Martinez slipped on the damp infield while rounding second base and limped around for a bit under the watchful eye of Boston's trainer. He remained in the game.

The Dodgers had tied the game with three hits off Sale in the third, the last a single to left by Machado, the subject of the expected robust round of boos during pregame introductions. Machado drove in three runs in the contest.

Boston scored two batters into the game after Betts led off with a single, stole second and scored on Benintendi's single. When Benintendi scored on Martinez's hit, it continued a long trend of breaking on top early in the postseason.

Boston has scored multiple first-inning runs in four straight World Series Game 1s, having also done it in 2004, 2007 and 2013. Boston led the majors by going 74-15 this season when scoring the first run of the game. The Red Sox entered the night 7-0 when scoring first during the postseason.

Rain pelted Boston for most of the day before the game, with the heaviest precipitation coming from a thunderstorm that passed over the city about 90 minutes before first pitch. But once the front passed, the tarp came up in time for introductions, James Taylor sang the national anthem and the game started on time.

In Taylor's most famous recording, he sung of seeing fire and rain. On Tuesday, the rain stopped in time for the fire, which was supplied once again by baseball's most prolific offense. The Dodgers' task in Game 2 and beyond is clear:

Find out where the fire extinguisher is.

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