The Red Sox are one win away from another World Series title after a 9-6 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 Saturday.
This win was never a sure thing. Actually, it felt like the Dodgers were going to win in the top of the seventh. Los Angeles led 4-0 after six innings and looked ready to cruise to a victory. The Dodgers were 54-0 this season when leading by four runs after six innings, so there was reason to be confident of a win.
But a Mitch Moreland pinch-hit three-run homer gave Boston life once again. Then Steve Pearce tied it in the eighth with a solo shot and the Dodgers and their fan base were deflated.
The Red Sox broke the tie in the ninth and then busted it open with another big hit from Pearce. The Dodgers are now on the ropes.
THREE MORE FOR BOSTON.#WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/FroOsKSFoG
Three takeaways from Game 4 of the World Series
Critical no-call ultimately had no impact
The Red Sox may have won Game 4 of the ALCS because of a judgment call by an umpire. They could have lost Game 4 of the World Series because of one.
Here’s the situation: with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth Cody Bellinger hit a ground ball to Steve Pearce at first. Pearce threw home and got the lead runner and Christian Vazquez threw the ball away at first base allowing a run to score, breaking a 0-0 tie. Here’s the problem, though: Bellinger absolutely should have been ruled out at first for interference.
Here’s why: You know that box in the final 45 feet of the first baseline? That is there because runners are supposed to get in it to get out of the line of view for a first baseman receiving a throw. Bellinger was not in that box. He was actually outside of it toward the left completely. Vazquez’s throw crossed Bellinger’s back, nearly scraping it, and went past the bag at first. Pearce never had a chance to catch a ball he would have gotten a glove on.
That is the definition of Rule 5.09(a) in MLB’s rulebook. The problem is it is entirely a judgement call . The home plate umpire clearly judged the ball was uncatchable. Upon further video replay, do you agree?
Huge Runner’s Lane Interference play in Game 4. HP Umpire Chad Fairchild had no RLI when batter-runner Bellinger ran the entire length from home to first in fair territory, not in the lane. Was it an unreasonable throw? Game changing no-call. #WorldSeries
Rule 5.09(a) pic.twitter.com/8XAfZqliaT
We have a run in Game 4! #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/hFTwhxZasF
Red Sox lost their approach, then found it at the perfect time
One of the Red Sox’s biggest problems, like most other teams in MLB today, is they can start hunting home runs from time to time. When that happens they can go for stretches without scoring and can be easier to beat.
Through the first 24 innings in Los Angeles Friday and Saturday, the Red Sox had scored two runs. One was off of a home run. They were still hunting homers in the seventh and eighth innings Saturday and they got them to tie the game. But when they settled down and started stringing hits together, things changed.
Boston scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning without one ball leaving the ballpark. Through 26 innings in two games in Los Angeles the Red Sox had six runs. In one half inning of Game 4 they scored five. Boston may have gotten its approach back.
Alex Cora makes a mistake
Alex Cora has seemingly been infallible in the playoffs. Everything has worked from what pitchers he starts to the ones he relieves and even to which pinch-hitters he uses. But he made a glaring mistake in Game 4.
With one out and a runner on first for Justin Turner in the sixth, Cora decided to leave in starter Eduardo Rodriguez to face Justin Turner. Matt Barnes was warm in the pen, but Cora decided to let Rodriguez face him. Turner then doubled putting runners on second and third with one out. Had Cora taken Rodriguez out before Turner the next sequence of events may not have happened.
Cora then decided to walk Manny Machado and give Rodriguez a chance to face a lefty in Bellinger. Then all the craziness from before with the no-call happened. But it goes beyond that. Cora even left Rodriguez in to face Yasiel Puig with two outs and two on. Even though Puig is much better against righties, a power righty was likely the better choice. Puig hit a three-run homer to make the game 4-0.
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. @YasielPuig with a 3 run bomb #dodgers 4 #redsox 0 #LADetermined #worldseries ®️ pic.twitter.com/Q5d2RioFuq
The sixth inning was not a good one for Alex Cora.
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