Posted on October 28, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox are just one win away from capturing the 2018 World Series title. The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t quite harness the momentum of their Game 3 and finish off Game 4 in order to even the series. The Red Sox erased a 4-0 deficit in Saturday’s Game 4 before holding on to win 9-6. The Dodgers are now facing a must-win elimination game at home in Sunday’s Game 5.
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Just Another Unsung Hero
In Game 4, Steve Pearce continued Boston’s tradition this postseason of unsung heroes stepping up in big spots. The Red Sox have seen their stars shine at times, but it’s been a true team effort to this point. Pearce, in Game 4, hit the game-tying home run in the 8th inning and followed it up with a three-run double in the 9th inning to break the game open. With the Red Sox, the postseason has been a matter of waiting for someone in the bottom half of the lineup to come up with a big hit. It was Pearce in Game 4 and could be someone else in Game 5.
In a surprising move, the Red Sox will start David Price in Game 5 rather than pitching Chris Sale on his regular rest. Price started Game 2 of this series, giving up two runs on three hits over six innings and getting the win. He then came out of the bullpen to get a couple outs in Game 3. Since he got knocked out early in the ALDS against the Yankees, Price has turned things around in a hurry. Red Sox manager Alex Cora now has total confidence in Price and his rubber arm.
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For the Dodgers, there was no surprise in Clayton Kershaw being announced as the Game 5 starter. Kershaw got knocked around for five runs on seven hits in 4-plus innings in Game 1. However, he’s no doubt looking for a chance to redeem himself against Boston’s lineup. Of course, he was roughed up in Game 1 of the NLCS but came back to pitch a gem in Game 5, so Kershaw is more than capable of bouncing back and shutting down the Red Sox lineup.
Los Angeles has two X-factors in this game, Brian Dozier and Chris Taylor. Neither has produced much in this series, but both will surely be in the Game 5 starting lineup against Price. With their left-handed hitters neutralized in this series, it’s up to guys like Dozier and Taylor to step up. If the Dodgers don’t get more from their supplementary players, it’s going to be hard to stay alive in this series.
For the Red Sox, the X-factor is either Andrew Benintendi or Jackie Bradley Jr., as only one of the two is likely to be in the starting lineup. Benintendi is 5 for 14 in this series and had no problem hitting Kershaw in Game 1. He could get the start and give the Red Sox a left-handed hitter who can hold his own against Kershaw. Bradley, on the other hand, hasn’t had a lot of hits in the postseason, but the hits he’s had have all been massive. There’s no reason to expect that to change now.
The Dodgers missed their chance in Game 4 and now they’re in serious trouble. If Kershaw can give them seven or eight scoreless innings, they’ll have a chance. However, the Red Sox have clearly taken back the momentum in this series and they’ll be tough to stop. Look for the Red Sox to jump on Kershaw early and wrap up the series tonight. Boston wins 7-5.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.