The Real McCoy

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy shares his thoughts on the Cincinnati Reds
Caption

McCoy: Red Sox rally to beat Dodgers; one win away from World Series crown

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after watching University of Dayton kicker Sean Smith punt a ball 80 yards from the back line of his end zone to the Butler University 19. And he kicked the laces.

—The Boston Red Sox can spell the word quit, but quit isn’t part of their modus operand
They were down 4-0 after six innings in Game 4 of the World Series Saturday night in Chavez Ravine. The Los Angeles Dodgers were 54-0 during the regular season when leading by four or more runs.

Now they are 54-1.

One might think the Red Sox were mentally drained after losing Game 3 in 18 innings, 3-2, then falling behind, 4-0, in Game 4.

But from the seventh through the ninth, they scored nine straight runs before the Dodgers scored two in the bottom of the ninth — too little, too late.

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With some curious pitching decisions by LA manager Dave Roberts, the Red Sox came all the way back against the Dodgers bullpen and retrieved a 9-6 victory, scoring five runs in the top of the ninth.

And they lead the Series three wins to one, needing just one more to win it all and the Dodgers have to be in total shock mode.

Boston pinch-hitter Rafael Devers slapped a single up the middle in the ninth inning to score Brock Holt from second after Holt led the inning with a double. That broke a 4-4 tie.

Then Boston first baseman Steve Pearce, who tied the game in the eighth, 4-4, with a home run, cleared the bases with a three-run double off Kenta Maeda and Dodger Stadium emptied like a fire drill.

LA’s Yasiel Puig gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the sixth with a gargantuan three-runhome run.

And then Bosox turned on the ignition switch after Roberts removed starter Rich Hill despite the fact he had given up no runs and one hit over 6 1/3 innings.

Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland blasted a three-run home run in the seventh off unreliable Ryan Madson in the seventh to make it 4-3.

Roberts then decided to use closer Kenley Jansen in the eighth, even though he had pitched two innings in Friday’s classic 18-inning marathon won by the Dodgers, 3-2.

Jansen gave up a one-out home run in the eighth by Steve Pearce to tie it, 4-4.

Roberts inserted Dylan Floro for the ninth, a pitcher that Dodgers obtained at mid-season from the Cincinnati Reds. Holt punched an opposite-field double to left and scored the game-winner on pinch-hitter Devers single up the middle.

LA starter Rich Hill was a large hill Boston couldn’t climb. In 6 1/3 innings he gave up no runs (while he was on the mound), one hit, walked three and struck out seven.

He walked Xander Bogaerts to open the seventh and struck out Eduardo Nunez on his 91st pitch and LA manager Dave Roberts decided that was enough and went to his bullpen.

Huge mistake.

Scott Alexander walked Brock Holt on four pitches and Roberts immediately went to Ryan Madson.

Bigger mistake.

Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland cranked a three-run home run to right field and Boston was within 4-3. Pearce’s home run made it 4-4 and Devers applied the stilleto to the Dodgers hearts, turning what appeared to be a change in momentum and a tied World Series into a victory that moved them one step from the trophy.

—After pitching in relief in Game 3’s 18-inning 7 1/2-hour 500-plus pitches classic, 25-year-old left hander Eduardo Rodriguez started Game 4 for Boston, his first post-season start.

—Just think about the poor umpires. They had to stand at their posts, unrelieved, for all 18 innings in Game 3.

—Both teams put two-out runners on base in the first two innings without doing damage.

—Rodriguez was hit by a pitch on the right arm to open the third, the first pitcher to get hit by a pitch in a World Series game sine 1968. And then the adventure began. Rodriguez had never been on base in his major league career.

Mookie Betts hit a slow roller up the third base line, a sure hit. But Rodriguez was half-trotting toward second and LA third baseman Justin Turner threw him out at second.

—Turner led the Dodgers fourth with a single, bringing up Manny Machado. At the time, he had stranded 31 baserunners in the post-season. Make it 32. He struck out. So did Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig popped out and Turner never budged off first base.

—Boston’s Christian Vazquez narrowly missed the left field foul pole for a home run with one out in the fifth, then singled to left. It was adventure time again for Rodriguez. Asked to bunt, he never took the bat off his shoulder, taking three strikes. Mookie Betts then flied to the warning track and it stayed 0-0.

—Through six innings, LA’s Rich Hill had given up no runs and one hit. Boston’s Rodriguez had given up no runs and two hits through five innings. He was at 80 pitches, the most he had thrown in a game since September 20 against the New York Yankees in just 3 2/3 innings.

Trouble surfaced for Rodriguez in the bottom of the sixth when he hit David Freese with a pitch. With one out, Justin Turner doubled to left.

That put runners on third and second, the first time either team advanced a runner past first base. Manny Machado was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Cody Bellinger grounded to first and Steve Pearce threw home for a forceout. But catcher Christian Vaszuez’s throw to first for an inning-ending double play went past first and a run scored on the throwing error and the Dodgers led, 1-0.

That brought up Yasiel Puig and he instantly turned the momentum in this series, for a few minutes, with his shot heard in Pismo Beach, halfway to San Francisco, which is where Puig’s blast was headed.

It was all for naught, even with the two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth by Kike Hernandez.

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