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Whicker: Boston’s bats are mightier than Dodgers’ bullpen in World Series opener

first_imgBOSTON — Game 1 showed the Dodgers the nature of the beast.The Red Sox have lost twice in the postseason, lost only .333 percent of the time in the regular season. Few of those occasional victors spent as much time beating themselves as the Dodgers did Tuesday.A misplayed pop-up by David Freese and a familiar overfly of the cutoff man by Yasiel Puig helped Boston collect its first two runs. Two double plays that didn’t quite get turned set up the Red Sox for two more. The Dodgers left three men at second base and went 1 for 7 in scoring-position situations, but they still managed to turn it into a bullpen game, the one place where they could take comfort. But that pillar collapsed in the seventh inning, when Eduardo Nuñez, pinch-hitting for Rafael Devers, walloped a three-run homer that nailed down Boston’s 8-4 victory.The Dodgers got rid of Boston starter Chris Sale after four innings and tapped out eight hits, including three by Justin Turner. But Ryan Madson gave up a two-out RBI single to Devers, and then Nuñez exploited Alex Wood, the former starter who has now given up three home runs in 5-2/3 postseason innings. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season “It’s the well-roundedness of our club,” said Ron Roenicke, the bench coach for Boston manager Alex Cora and the former aide to longtime Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Roenicke managed the Milwaukee Brewers into the playoffs, too. He’s been around playoff-caliber stuff most of his career. This, even in a year when not all competing teams are actually competing, is something else.“We’ve got a lot of ways to score runs,” he said. “We’ve got some speed and we can score that way. There aren’t a lot of things we don’t do well.”Depth, of course, is the Dodgers’ badge. What the Red Sox did in the seventh was out of the blue playbook. And Nuñez would be a typical Dodger, a multi-position player who has played prominently in Minnesota and San Francisco and is not a stranger to home runs. He had 10 this year and 56 for his career.There were two out, with the Dodgers down 5-4. Pedro Baez, who has been lights-out in October, struck out Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts, and intentionally walked J.D. Martinez in between.Third baseman Devers, a lefty, was the next hitter, so the Dodgers rather robotically went with Wood, even though they had put Scott Alexander, a career reliever with a knack for throwing grounders, on the World Series roster in place of Caleb Ferguson. “Noonie (Nuñez) is probably a good defensive move to make there,” Roenicke said, “so it was a good place to pinch-hit him.”“I watched some video on him (Wood) and I knew he liked to throw something soft,” Nuñez said. “He did it twice.”The first pitch was caught by Austin Barnes. The second one wasn’t. Nuñez belted the 83 mph curveball just over the Green Monster, and the Dodgers trailed the World Series 0-1 with Hyun-Jin Ryu, coming off an NLCS in which he gave up seven runs in 7-1/3 innings, scheduled to start Game 2.The Dodgers needed five relief innings because Clayton Kershaw only got two batters deep into the fifth. Like Sale, he saw too many disciplined “takes” on close pitches.“It’s like the way we prepared for (Houston’s) Dallas Keuchel,” Roenicke said. “We’re going to see a lot of sliders, so make sure we can get him to get them up, and don’t chase the ones that aren’t strikes.”But the Dodgers were fine with a bullpen showdown because theirs had been so good and Boston’s had been questioned. On Tuesday it was difficult to see why.Matt Barnes and Eduardo Rodriguez both retired Cody Bellinger on fly balls with Dodgers on second base. In the sixth, Joe Kelly, of Corona and UC Riverside, struck out Matt Kemp and Kiké Hernandez (now 3 for 30 this postseason) and got Puig on a grounder. Kelly threw 14 pitches, five of which were clocked at 99 mph and another, to Puig, at 100.Related Articles Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire “Joe was dominating,” Barnes said. “He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen.”It was an illustration of why you should close out a playoff series at the first opportunity. Boston won Games 3-4-5 of the ALCS in Houston. The Red Sox hadn’t worked since Thursday. That’s not the greatest thing for a hitter’s timing but it’s milk and honey for a tired bullpen.“Having four days off was absolutely huge,” Barnes said. “Everybody’s been throwing a lot, everybody’s at the end of 180 games. We came back fresh.“But no matter what happens in the game we think we can answer it. We’ve got good starters, a good bullpen and we can field it.”Barnes smiled. “And we can sure as hell hit it,” he said. “Like I said, we’re deep.”The Dodgers get another look at the beast Wednesday. Trouble can be deep, too. Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start last_img read more