A Game 1 matchup blessed by the pitching gods between two of the most venerable franchises on some of the most hallowed ground in the sport featured an unlikely hero. Eduardo Nunez, pinch-hitting for Rafael Devers, delivered a three-run homer that barely cleared the Green Monster to give the Boston Red Sox an 8-4 lead.
Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel slammed the door without drama.
Alex Cora, as he’s done so often this postseason won the chess match. Dave Roberts, who pulled Pedro Baez after the reliever strike out the only two batters he faced, got egg on his face.
Nunez was previously 1-for-6 in the postseason and has only 56 homers to his name in nine Major League seasons. He entered Tuesday night with a balky ankle and it was unclear if he’d play. He closed the World Series opener by putting an indelible mark on baseball history.
Who saw that coming?
Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw gave way in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. Each was underwhelming. Sale was done in by an advanced pitch count, Kershaw by an inability to get the third out of an inning.
And while Nunez’s blast was a shiny object, the Red Sox capitalized on every door the Dodgers left open. Leading off the game, Mookie Betts was given second life when his foul popup eluded first baseman David Freese. He’d go on to single, steal second, and score. Steve Pearce barely beat out a double play in the third, then scored on J.D. Martinez’s double to center. Xander Bogaerts did the same in the fifth on an RBI groundout, which allowed Devers to single in another run.
Andrew Benintendi led off the fateful eighth with his fourth hit of the night, a looper down the left-field line that barely escaped the grasp of Joc Pederson.
The Fall Classic’s first chapter was a story of inches and of bang-bang plays. Boston stretched and earned those deciding inches. In basketball parlance, they got the 50-50 balls. This sustained them until Nunez’s big bang carried over the 37-foot wall in left by a matter of inches.
Close, but no cigar for Los Angeles. Close, but a victory one for the Red Sox.