Through two games, LA has managed to plate six runs. When you’re going up against the best offense in baseball, six runs might not even be enough in one game. On Wednesday, the Dodgers only scored two runs on three hits, and were held without a hit for the final 5 1⁄3 innings.
In the series, the Dodgers are 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. 11 runners have been stranded on base. The opportunities have been there, they’ve just failed to capitalize.
The Red Sox on the other hand, have taken advantage of seemingly every opportunity given to them. They’re 6-for-18 with runners in scoring position, with most of their damage coming with two outs. In the 2018 postseason, Boston has scored more than half of their runs with two outs.
The problem for LA isn’t necessarily getting runners on base, it’s finding different ways to bring them in.
In Game 1, the Dodgers were able to string together three consecutive hits in the third inning, tying the game at two apiece. With only one out, runners stood at first and second. Chris Taylor struck out, followed by a groundout from Matt Kemp. It’s situations like these in which you need to capitalize on the opportunities handed to you.
Transition into the fifth. The Dodgers have first and second with nobody out. After a David Freese strikeout, Manny Machado stepped to the plate. A wild-pitch would advance the runners to second and third with one out. Machado grounded out, bringing in the tying run. Yes, a groundout was great because it tied the game, but that was not the at-bat the Dodgers needed.
In July, the Dodgers acquired Machado for this very reason, his bat in the World Series. With a chance to give LA a lead, he delivered a tie but that ball would’ve ended the inning if not for the wild pitch. The Dodgers needed a big hit there and they didn’t get it from Machado or Cody Bellinger, who would fly out to end the inning.
The Dodgers did their job by chasing Chris Sale after only four innings of work. Unfortunately, they couldn’t exploit the Red Sox bullpen.
Yet again, the Dodgers had a golden opportunity when they loaded the bases in the seventh, giving Machado another chance to do some damage. He brought in a run on a sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to one run. But yet again, it was not the at-bat the Dodgers needed.
Prior to Machado, two of the three previous batters had at least three balls in their count, with Yasmani Grandal reaching on a walk. Ryan Brasier had allowed two singles and a walk, and was struggling to find command. Yet, on the first pitch, Machado swung at a 96-mph fastball, and flied out.
You can’t really knock Machado for driving in a run, but in such a crucial at-bat, you would have liked him to at least try and see some pitches, and hope for a better result. A base-hit from Machado likely brings in two, ties the game, and puts the Dodgers in a prime opportunity to take the lead. Bellinger had another opportunity but flew out to center to end the inning.
Switching things over to game 2. It looked as if LA was ready to blow things wide open in the fourth inning. They had the bases loaded with nobody out. On the first pitch, Kemp flied to center, bringing in a run to tie the game at one a piece. Kiké Hernandez followed with a solid nine-pitch-at-bat, but ultimately struck out.
Things looked to be turning in the Dodgers’ favor, as Yasiel Puig brought in one with an RBI single. Scoring two runs and taking the lead, it was already a successful inning for the Dodgers. Though, with the Red Sox offense looming, two runs likely wouldn’t cut it for the game.
With runners on first and third, LA was in a prime opportunity to tack on some more runs. Austin Barnes stepped up, and struck out on three pitches.
For the Dodgers, they wouldn’t have a base runner the rest of the game and have now stranded 87 runners in the playoffs overall.
It’s easy to blame big hitters for not breaking tha game wide open but a sizable amount of blame belongs to the bottom half of the order as well. Hitters five through nine in the Dodgers’ order are 2-for-34 in the first two games.
Hernadez is 0-for-6 in the World Series and 3-for-32 for the 2018 postseason. The Dodgers didn’t have a hit from center field or second base in Boston.
The tough pill to swallow is the fact that the Dodgers could have taken either one of these games, possibly both. The opportunities have been there for the taking, the Dodgers just haven’t stepped up to the task.
With the series heading to Los Angeles, the series is far from over. Boston still has to win two more games, and they will be without their best starting pitcher until game 5, giving the Dodgers the perfect chance to get back into the series.
As we’ve seen all postseason, the Dodgers have no problem getting runners on base. However, if they have any hopes of coming back, and delivering the city of Los Angeles their first World Series in 30 years, this Dodgers team will need to step up, and show they are a championship caliber team.