With a 4-2 victory on Wednesday night, the Boston Red Sox have jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.
A three-run bottom of the fifth inning for Boston erased a 2-1 deficit, and that proved to be the difference, as J.D. Martinez delivered the knockout blow with a two-run single.
The series now shifts from Fenway Park to Dodger Stadium with a travel day on Thursday. Game 3 will be played on Friday night at 8:09 p.m. ET, and Fox will once again handle broadcast duties.
The Dodgers will hand the ball to rookie Walker Buehler for his fourth start of the postseason.
The 24-year-old started the decisive Game 7 of the NLCS on Saturday, scattering six hits and allowing one earned run with seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.
While Buehler by no means struggled on the road this year, he pitched much better at home:
- Home: 74.2 IP, 4-3, 1.93 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
- Road: 62.2 IP, 4-2, 3.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.6 K/9
Second baseman Ian Kinsler is the only player on the Red Sox roster who has faced Buehler, as he went 1-for-2 against him on July 13 while the veteran was still a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
The Red Sox will turn to Rick Porcello as the Game 3 starter after Nathan Eovaldi was used for the eighth inning in Game 1 and Game 2.
"That's the beauty of the playoffs," Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters. "It's actually fun. Because you map out everything over 162 games and you give guys rest, and take care of guys. But now it's like pedal to the metal."
So while Eovaldi has gotten into both World Series games so far, Porcello hasn't pitched since Oct. 17 when he allowed seven hits and four earned runs in four innings against the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the ALCS for a no-decision.
With a right-hander on the mound, the Dodgers will be able to insert lefty-hitters Max Muncy (35 HR), Cody Bellinger (25 HR) and Joc Pederson (25 HR) into the starting lineup for the first time in the series, which adds significant pop to the offensive attack.
"We're going to shuffle it up for Game 3, but it's not because of necessarily performance," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. "It's kind of who the starting pitcher for those guys is."
Spacious Dodger Stadium once again graded out as a pitcher's paradise in 2018, so that could help keep the high-powered Red Sox offense at bay.
Then again, the Dodgers were the highest-scoring team in the National League during the regular season, so plenty more fireworks could also be in store.
One thing is for sure: This is a must-win game for the Dodgers.
Playing back in front of the home crowd and with their dynamic rookie on the hill, they'll get the job done.
Prediction: Dodgers 5, Red Sox 3
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted