Updated at 12:44 a.m. ET
The Dodgers and Red Sox remained tied 1-1 going into the 12th inning in Los Angeles Friday night.
The Dodgers got everything they could have wished for out of rookie starting pitcher Walker Buehler: A seven-inning, two-hit, seven-strikeout display of both power — dozens of pitches topped 98 mph — and stamina — his 107th pitch was nearly among them.
But they only managed to get a single run, which means Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’s eight-inning solo shot off reliever Kenley Jansen effectively erased Buehler’s sterling work.
Bradley had a quiet World Series through two games with just one hit, but is coming of an MVP-winning American League Championship Series performance in which he batted in nine runs on just three huge hits, including a grand slam in Game 3 of that series.
Now Los Angeles has to hope their bullpen — unreliable at best in this series — will give them time to scratch out a game-winner in extra innings.
If the Dodgers had trotted out the same lineup as they used in games 1 and 2, they might not have had even that opportunity. Their sole run came on a solo home run by outfielder Joc Pederson off of Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. It was Pederson’s fourth home run in his six career World Series starts.
Pederson hit 25 home runs in the regular season, but was one of four left-handed power hitters who spent the early innings of Games 1 and 2 on the bench for Los Angeles, as manager Dave Roberts played the percentages against left-handed Boston starters.
Boston’s bullpen, which threw three lockdown innings to choke the life out of the Dodgers in Game 2, has given up four hits and a walk since Porcello left in the fifth inning, but has kept the Dodgers scoreless. It was given an assist in the ninth inning by David Price, who threw six mostly sharp innings on Wednesday as the Red Sox’s Game 2 starter.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will have a couple of advantages in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night. To take the title from the Boston Red Sox, they’ll need to find a whole lot more.
The series shifts to pleasantly warm Los Angeles after two games in Boston’s chill — weather that Dodgers reliever Ryan Madson suggested was partly to blame for his poor performance in both games.
And they’ll face right-handed Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello, which means matchup-happy Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will insert the team’s top four home run hitters — back into the starting lineup after they started Games 1 and 2 in the dugout. Los Angeles member station KPCC noted that five of the Dodgers’ six losses in the postseason have come against left-handed starting pitchers.
But the Dodgers also return to Los Angeles already down 2-0 in the series, a deficit that ESPN reports no team has recovered from since the New York Yankees came back against the Atlanta Braves in 1996.
And as WBUR’s Shira Springer noted to NPR’s Newscast, the Red Sox haven’t lost a single road game yet this postseason.
Sports analyst Mike Pesca tells Here & Now that Boston has dominated the strategy of the series:
“Their manager, Alex Cora, has made all the right choices … every thing, every move, every pitcher he brought in has worked.”
His move to start Friday’s game is to put designated hitter J.D. Martinez in left field, moving Andrew Benintendi to the bench. With the series moving to the National League’s home turf, no designated hitters will be used.