Last night the Dodgers had a real shot at evening up the series and having a real chance at winning it all this year. Then Dave Roberts got in the way by overanalyzing the pitching situation. The Dodgers had a 4 run lead going into the 7th inning. Rich Hill was dominant, giving up just 1 hit through 6.1 innings when Roberts decided to pull him after striking out Eduardo Nunez. Yes after striking out a batter, Roberts pulled him from the game and that is when it hit the fan for the Dodgers.
Scott Alexander enters the game to walk Brock Holt and is immediately pulled from the game and replaced by Ryan Madson. Madson gets Jackie Bradley Jr. to pop out followed by a big 3-run home run to Mitch Moreland. Mookie Betts lines out to end the inning cutting the Dodgers lead to just 1. The following inning, Kenley Jansen for the second time in as many games allows a game-tying solo home run in the 8th inning. He finishes out the 8th inning with no further issues, but is replaced in the 9th. Yes the Dodgers closer was pulled from the game before the 9th inning. It is literally his job description to pitch the 9th and final inning of big games, yet Roberts used him as a set up man instead.
In order to navigate through the 9th inning, Roberts used 3 different pitchers to pitch to a combined 10 batters while giving up 5 runs. None of the 6 relief pitchers in Game 4 faced more than 5 batters. Meanwhile, Rich Hill only threw 91 pitches before being replaced. This era of baseball is becoming a frustrating spectacle of managers yanking pitchers out of games and “playing the numbers.” However, what it really does is kill all confidence in the men being paid to get outs.
Alex Wood only pitched to one batter, throwing 4 pitches, all of which were strikes. He allowed a soft dribbler to third base that didn’t even reach the infield dirt. Yet that was enough for Roberts to call to the bullpen and bring in Maeda. Let’s keep in mind that Wood is a starting pitcher, who regularly goes 5+ innings of solid ball. So, why did Roberts pull the plug on him after just 1 batter? The result? A disaster leading to 4 more runs before recording the final out of the inning and putting the Dodgers out of reach of making a comeback.
Now Game 5 has the Dodgers backed up against the wall facing a 3-1 deficit and knowing that they need to play 2 more games in Boston. Kershaw will be taking the mound tonight against David Price. Kershaw will need to return to regular season form to give the Dodgers a chance. The one good side of last night’s game is that the Dodgers did score 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th and threatened more, giving them a little momentum heading into what could be the final game of the season.
The Dodgers bats will come alive in this game, teeing off Price to give them an early lead. Kershaw will go deep into the game, holding the Red Sox down through at least 7 innings. There is a small chance that Kershaw pitches a complete game since he will not be available to start Game 6 or 7 anyway. The Red Sox will charge late, but fall short of taking the lead. The Dodgers win this one and keep their hopes alive as they head back to Boston.