Boston — In a World Series Game 1 loss Tuesday, the Dodgers got a close glimpse of the Red Sox offensive firepower that buried the best pitching staff in the majors during the ALCS. It was but one game and we shouldn’t go nuts in overreacting. After all, both of these teams lost Game 1 of the LCS round. Still, the way the Red Sox are humming right now, a 2-0 lead through two games seems like it would mean this series isn’t coming back to Fenway Park.
How do the Dodgers combat this hot Red Sox offense? With Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers left-handed starter was excellent in the regular season (1.97 ERA) and his first start of the playoffs. He wasn’t bad in his first start against the Brewers, but in Game 6, he faltered, giving up five runs on seven hits in three innings. It was easily his worst outing of the year.
Can he bounce back? If not, the Dodgers are in trouble. Some good news? Generally speaking, a lack of familiarity is an advantage for the pitcher. In his entire career, here are the Red Sox players who have seen Ryu:
- J.D. Martinez, 2-7, 2B, BB
- Ian Kinsler, 2-3, 2B, 2 BB
- Eduardo Nunez, 0-3
- Steve Pearce, 1-3
No one else has faced Ryu. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but especially the first time through the order, Ryu has a good shot to fool some hitters, especially if his curve is on point. Ryu knows that was the problem last time.
“Looking back at it, if I actually commanded all of my off-speed pitches to get ahead in the count, I think there would have been a different result,” Ryu said of Game 6. “Obviously [Wednesday] I’m going to use all of the pitches that I can throw and may try to command the pitches better.”
Needless to say, the game comes down to a lot more than Ryu’s performance. The offense could probably stand to jump on Red Sox starter David Price early. The Dodgers need to cut down on their mistakes. The bullpen needs to avoid coughing up a three-run home run when the offense continued to scratch and claw. Dave Roberts shouldn’t stray from what had been a successful formula in the NLCS.
It’s just that it all starts with Ryu. If he pitches like he did in Game 6 of the NLCS, the Dodgers will find themselves in a very deep hole against a team that won 108 regular-season games and is now 8-2 in the playoffs against stellar competition.
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