Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:01 PM
World Series Cheat Sheet
HOW THEY GOT HERE
In spite of the Astros winning the World Series last season, the Red Sox seemed like the team to knock off in the American League this season. Boston finished with the best record in franchise history at 108-54, while winning the American League East title in Alex Cora’s first season as manager. The Red Sox failed to advance past the opening round of the playoffs in 2016 and 2017 after capturing the division championship, but things changed this time around.
Boston split the first two games with rival New York in the ALDS at Fenway Park, but finished off the Yankees with a pair of victories in the Bronx to win the series, 3-1. Two of the wins came by one run, while routing New York in Game 3 by a 16-1 count. Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello each pitched terrific on the road, while J.D. Martinez and Steve Pearce combined for nine hits and eight runs batted in.
The Red Sox dropped the ALCS opener to the Astros in a rematch of last season’s ALDS won by Houston. However, Boston rebounded with a comeback victory in Game 2 at home, followed up by three consecutive wins at Minute Maid Park to take home its first pennant since 2013. Eovaldi was fantastic again by tossing six innings in a Game 3 victory, while the Red Sox rallied for an 8-6 win in a wild Game 4, capped off by Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s second home run in as many games. Boston finished off Houston, 4-1 in Game 5 behind a masterful performance from David Price, who picked up his first career playoff win.
The Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second straight season, but are looking for redemption after falling to the Astros in seven games in 2017. The road wasn’t easy to capture the NL West title as the Dodgers needed to beat the Rockies in game 163, but Los Angeles remained the kings of the division for the sixth straight season.
L.A. took care of upstart Atlanta in the NLDS after blanking the Braves in two home wins and finishing things off in four games. The NLCS was significantly more challenging as the Dodgers were pushed to seven games by the NL Central champion Brewers, but Los Angeles used home runs from Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig to knock out Milwaukee, 5-1 in the decisive contest at Miller Park. The Dodgers’ pitching staff allowed two runs or less in three of the final four games, while Los Angeles won two games at Chavez Ravine and two at Miller Park.
HITTERS TO WATCH
The Red Sox showcase two MVP candidates in Martinez and Mookie Betts, as the duo was the top two hitters in the American League this season. Betts batted .346 with a career-high 32 home runs, while Martinez finished second in batting average (.330), second in home runs (43), and first in runs batted in (130). Shortstop Xander Bogaerts knocked in 103 runs, while picking up a hit in eight of nine playoff games.
The balance of the Dodgers’ lineup was evident this season as not one player finished in the top-five of the NL in batting average, home runs, and RBI. However, seven Dodgers drilled at least 20 home runs this season, led by Max Muncy’s 35 round-trippers. That list includes Los Angeles sluggers who were with the team the entire season, as midseason pickup Manny Machado his 13 homers with the Dodgers, but posted 37 homers total, which included his time in Baltimore. The Dodgers scored the most runs in the NL with 804, while allowing the least amount runs with 610.
PITCHERS TO WATCH
Cy Young candidate Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11 ERA) was slated to start Game 6 of the ALCS if Boston lost Game 5. However, Sale was given several extra days of rest as he will get the ball in the World Series opener. Sale beat the Yankees in the ALDS opener by tossing 5.1 innings and allowing five hits and two earned runs in a 5-4 victory for his first career playoff win. However, the lanky left-hander yielded only one hit in four innings in a 7-2 home defeat to the Astros in the ALCS opener.
Sale landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in August, as he has not pitched past the sixth inning since late July. The Red Sox own a 9-5 record in his 14 home starts this season, compared to a 9-4 mark in his opening season at Fenway Park in 2017. As a home favorite or -200 or below in his two seasons in Boston, the Red Sox have compiled a 6-2 mark.
Price (16-7, 3.58 ERA) exorcised his playoff demons by dominating the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS, picking up his first playoff win in 12 career starts. In the regular season, Price put together a 9-3 record at Fenway Park, while the Sox won 14 of his 18 home starts. Price will be making his first World Series start likely in Game 2, while tossing 3.1 innings of relief in his rookie season with the Rays against the Phillies in the 2008 Fall Classic.
Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA) has captured three Cy Young awards in his career, but is seeking his first World Series title. Kershaw turned in a pair of masterful performances at home against the Braves and Brewers by tossing 15 innings and allowing five hits and one run. However, Kershaw put together his shortest career playoff outing in a Game 1 loss at Milwaukee by giving up six runs in three innings of a 6-5 defeat.
In last year’s World Series against Houston, Kershaw shut down the Astros in the opener at home, 3-1 by striking out 11 batters in seven innings. However, Kershaw was knocked around at Minute Maid Park in a pivotal Game 5 as the Dodgers blew a pair of three-run leads in a 13-12 walk-off loss in extra innings.
Fellow southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97 ERA) allowed a season-high five runs in a Game 6 NLCS loss at Milwaukee, snapping a five-game winning streak by Los Angeles in Ryu’s previous five starts. Ryu has not been listed as an underdog this season, as the Dodgers posted a 4-1 record in his five outings following a loss in his last start. Ryu did not pitch in the 2017 World Series as he faces a Red Sox lineup that hit only .250 against left-handers this season compared to .275 vs. right-handers.
Amazingly, these two legendary franchises have met only once before in the World Series, coming way back in 1916. The Red Sox won in five games against what was known as the Brooklyn Robins, before the franchise changed its name to Dodgers in 1932.
The last time the Red Sox and Dodgers met in the regular season came back in 2016 in Los Angeles. The Dodgers captured two of three games against the Red Sox, as Price lost the series finale in spite of Boston grabbing an early 2-0 lead. Los Angeles is making its first trip to Fenway Park since 2010 when the Sox pulled off a three-game sweep of the Dodgers.
SERIES SCHEDULE - GAMES ON FOX
Game 1 – Tuesday, October 23 at Boston
Game 2 – Wednesday, October 24 at Boston
Game 3 – Friday, October 26 at Los Angeles
Game 4 – Saturday, October 27 at Los Angeles
Game 5 – Sunday, October 28 at Los Angeles
Game 6 – Tuesday, October 30 at Boston
Game 7 – Wednesday, October 31 at Boston
- If Necessary
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.