(pause for applause)
So like I did last year and the year before that and the year before that, which I will not be linking because the highlights no longer work, I’m going to go over the highlights of the playoff series the Dodgers just lost, ensuring that they would not win their first World Series in Taylor Swift’s lifetime.
Game 1, Clayton Kershaw’s first inning
It seems inevitable, that at some point, in some postseason, Clayton Kershaw will finally destroy all the October narratives that have sprung up around him. A strong performance in the World Series this year would have done it. He’d been up and down in the 2018 postseason, with fantastic performances in Game 2 of the NLDS and Game 5 of the NLCS, and a miserable one in Game 1 of the NLCS, but two good starts against a great team in October would have been the death knell for that trope.
Instead, he chose not to do that and, well, here we are again. In Game 1, the Red Sox were up 2-0 before Kershaw had recorded two outs, and as no self-respecting Giants fan will ever tire of pointing out, in the span of four batters, Kershaw gave up more runs than Madison Bumgarner has given up in 36 World Series innings.
Also, remember when Dave Roberts wasted a challenge in the first inning? What was that about?
Game 1, Rafael Devers single
Unfortunately, the Dodgers fought back from that early 2-0 deficit, tying the game in the top of the third inning. The Red Sox got another run in the bottom of the third, and then the Dodgers tied it again. It seemed like Los Angeles might match Boston blow for blow. In the bottom of the fifth, the Red Sox scored again on a Xander Bogaerts groundout, but the next batter, Rafael Devers, hit a two out single to give the Sox a two run lead. It might seem like nothing in the grant scheme of things, but that single was the Red Sox serving notice that they were a relentless offensive juggernaut that was not going to be denied.
Also, all of these runs scored off Kershaw.
Game 1, Eduardo Nuñez’s homer
During the series, #ForeverGiant Eduardo Nuñez showed he still had some orange and black in him in two ways: first, he hit this home run to ice Game 1 against the Dodgers, which was delightful; second, in the 18-inning Game 3, Nuñez would not stop injuring himself, purely out of support for his former comrades in San Francisco.
Game 2, Ryan Madson’s 5th inning
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth and the bases loaded, in a game his team led by one run, Dave Roberts took out Hyun-Jin Ryu and put in Ryan Madson.
Madson walked in the tying run.
Then Madson gave up a two run single to put the Red Sox ahead 4-2. He probably thinks he had a bad series. I disagree. He had a great series. I enjoyed his work very much.
Game 4, Mitch Moreland homer
After the deflating marathon that was Game 3, a 3-2 game that the Dodgers won in the 18th inning, the Red Sox came out of the gate flat in Game 4. Some of that was probably fatigue, but they also just had trouble getting their bats going in Los Angeles; you score 2 runs in 18 innings, and it’s fair to say you’re not hitting well. For the first six innings, Rich Hill kept that trend going, curveballing his way to a dominating performance and a 4-0 Dodgers lead.
So when Dave Roberts took out Hill for Ryan Madson with one out in the 7th, it was already a huge moment. Then Mitch Moreland hit a booming 3-run homer off Madson — it went two thirds of the way up the stands — and the juggernaut Red Sox offense was back. This was the homer that kicked off the comeback that DO NOT WORRY WILL BE SUMMARIZED IN DETAIL WITH SEVERAL MORE HIGHLIGHTS.
Also, Puig’s reaction is fantastic. I love homers that are so obviously homers that the outfielder doesn’t even move. It’s like he’s telling the pitcher, buddy, we both know I’d be wasting my energy.
Game 4, Steve Pearce homer
And here’s the chaser.
The Red Sox tied the game in the top of the 8th on a Steve Pearce homer off Kenley Jansen, and at that point, if you were a Dodgers fan, there’s no way you thought you were winning the game. LA’s bullpen had been iffy all year, and here was the mighty Kenley Jansen, their unquestionable best hope in the late innings, personally coughing up the last of the lead. He was their best option, and he wasn’t good enough. That 11 inning performance by the bullpen the night before where they only gave up one run? Irrelevant. This was the sign of the end times. Repent, sinners. Repent!
Man, is it satisfying to write that about the Dodgers for once, and not the Giants.
Game 4, ninth inning
Look at this rally. Look at this beautiful rally.
There’s something really satisfying about close games that go the way you want them to, every second of tension paying off at the end. There’s also something really satisfying about just stomping on the Dodgers’ throats, never letting up even enough to let them beg for mercy. Just stomp and stomp and stomp until you know they’re not getting up, and then stomp some more and then kick them in the side a few times on your way out the door.
Also, if you would like to hear Pearce’s double with commentary from around the world, that video is available here, and it’s pretty dang fun.
Game 5, Clayton Kershaw’s first inning
It seems inevitable, that at some point, in some postseason, Clayton Kershaw will finally destroy all the October narratives that have sprung up around him. A strong performance in the World Series this year would have done it. He’d been up and down in the 2018 postseason, with fantastic performances in Game 2 of the NLDS and Game 5 of the NLCS, and miserable ones in Game 1 of the NLCS and Game 1 of the World Series, but a dominating start facing elimination against a great team in October on the way to an improbable series comeback would have been the death knell for that trope.
In Game 5, the Red Sox were up 2-0 before Kershaw had recorded two outs, and as no self-respecting Giants fan will ever tire of pointing out, in the span of three batters, Kershaw gave up more runs than Madison Bumgarner has given up in 36 World Series innings.
Game 5, Mookie Betts’s homer
After the Red Sox scored their two runs in the first, the Dodgers got one back. The score stayed 2-1, with Kershaw settling in and facing 12 batters over the next four innings, until the top of the sixth. The Red Sox had their own bullpen issues all year, and David Price could have succumbed to The Narrative about his postseason career just like (spoiler!) Kershaw ended up doing, so getting the first Red Sox insurance run was massively important.
WE NOW GO LIVE TO CLAYTON KERSHAW’S REACTION TO THIS HOMER FROM SUNDAY NIGHT:
Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.
Game 5, Steve Pearce’s second homer
So many people criticized Dave Roberts for his bullpen use in Game 4. “Why take Rich Hill out? Why not use Pedro Báez? Why didn’t you do exactly this thing that I would have done, which would have clearly worked?” Well, he had reasons for all of it: Hill told Roberts he was tiring, Báez was unavailable, the thing that The Sports Knower would have done probably would have also failed. But even a Dodgers fan wishcasting Báez as the guy to shut the door for a couple innings before Kenley Jansen didn’t also fail has this to contend with. Báez gave up this shot to Pearce. Even granting the Dodgers a world without fatigue, there never was an answer that would have won Game 4. There never was an answer that would have won them the series.
Kinda beautiful, isn’t it?
Game 5, Chris Sale shutting the door
Chris Sale made Justin Turner, Kiké Hernández, and Manny Machado look absolutely silly to end the World Series. The only way that could have been a more satisfying roster of villains is if Yasiel Puig replaced Hernandez, but all the same, it was delightful.
In the end, the Dodgers lost the 2018 World Series, and our 1988 jokes can live to see another year. For the second straight year, it was a closer call than we’d have liked, with LA winning multiple playoff series along the way. But a Dodger loss is a Dodger loss, and that’s always something to celebrate.