So I’m a skeleton after watching the entirety of Game 3. A game that ended so late, I was debating just eating breakfast and chugging coffee to start my Saturday. When Max Muncy sent Nathan Eovaldi’s 97th pitch into the left-field stands, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. The game was over. Thank Christ.
There’s a lot to dissect about what went wrong with Cora’s Red Sox, and frankly, I believe that’s stupid to do. Why? One main reason.
The Red Sox bench held the full Dodger lineup for an additional nine innings, and that’s the main headline here.
Sure, sitting Andrew Benintendi in favor of J.D. Martinez in left field seems like a miscue in hindsight. I’d argue that the only miscue there was not making a double switch and keeping Benny in the game. After managing the first two games like an NL manager, Alex Cora played the first NL game like an AL manager and hit Benintendi as his first bat off the bench. If Benny stays in, this game might end differently.
Instead, the Sox trotted out a defensive and offensive lineup made up from whoever was breathing at the time. This put Eduardo Nuñez and his shopping cart wheel of a foot at third, Ian “Pinch Runner Extraordinaire” at second, and catcher Christian Vazquez at first bas.
The situation was so dire on the Sox bench that Cora had to play Vazquez at first for the first time in his career, rather than starting J.D. Martinez at first, also a career first, a la David Ortiz circa 2007 and 2013. Instead, Martinez is lifted for Ian Kinsler, who basically gets within an inch of being called out at every base but second, before getting thrown out by Cody Bellinger at the plate.
Nathan Eovaldi, Game 4’s probable starter, is then brought into the game. Do I hate this move? No. This is the most analytical move Cora made all game.
In the history of the game of baseball, 24 teams have gone up 3-0. Of those 24 teams, 21 have swept, and ZERO have lost the series.
If Cora wins this game with Eovaldi on the mound, the Dodgers have to win out, and that’s not easy to do against a team that has been dominant both on the road and at Fenway. Cora went for the jugular with Eovaldi and for 6 innings it worked.
And then Max Muncy hits a home run that stays fair and the Sox are here with a 2-1 lead.
This brings me to my final point. Who does this game hurt the most?
Sure the Red Sox are going to have to lean on surprise roster addition Drew Pomeranz and possibly Eduardo “Tipping Pitches 24/7” Rodriguez, but the Dodgers are going to have to lean heavily on a roster full of starters that played the full 18 innings.
Of the Dodgers 8 position players, 6 went late into the game on Friday night/Saturday morning. On the Red Sox side, only 5 of their starters played the full 18. Of those 5, Brock Holt and Vazquez can be interchanged with other players, with Holt being a utility player who has ridden the bench a lot this postseason, and Vasquez who can split catching duties with Sandy Leon.
On the final Red Sox infield that took the field in game 3, it’s very likely only one player will get the start for Game 4, that player being Xander Bogaerts. The Dodgers on the other hand, will have only one position not being filled by a player who finished last night’s game: second base.
Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson (who only played 15 innings…) are all integral parts to the Dodgers lineup if they intend to take Game 4. Those dudes are going to be feeling the Game 3 during Saturday night.
So who’s in a better, more rested position for Game 4? The Los Angeles Dodgers who are still in the hole and could go down 3-1? Or the Red Sox who still have a game to give away, who also hold the game’s second-best road record?
I’m not worried about the Sox. And neither way Alex Cora in the 18th. Chill out,
Update: Dodgers Lineups and Red Sox Lineups have come out.
Dodgers are sitting Puig, Pederson, Muncy and Bellinger to start. Sox are going opposite by starting Kinsler, Vazquez, Bogaerts and Betts. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is sitting out in favor of Betts in Center and Benintendi in Left.
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