The last game I previewed was the series opener, a loser for us and the Dodgers, who never led in the game.
They led for an inning of Game 2 but Boston wiped it away and took the lead for good in one swoop, sustained by five innings of shutout baseball by David Price and the bullpen.
Facing a situation only better than elimination, Los Angeles is a bigger favorite tonight with Walker Buehler on the mound than Boston was in either of the first two games at Fenway Park.
I wasn’t passionate about Game 1 but considered the Dodgers the safer play as underdogs at the start of what felt like a mysterious series. Two games and three days later, the series feels rather nondescript.
The groupthink surrounding Game 3 feels more straightforward: Los Angeles will win. The first two games at Fenway Park were close and now Dodgers are going back home. They won’t possibly just roll over after coming all this way a year after losing Game 7. That thinking has driven up the price on the Dodgers, who are up against a couple of powerful forces tonight.
More often than not, the home field helps but it can intensify any pressure on the home team. Given all the expectations, how last season ended and how this series has started, there is serious pressure on the Dodgers tonight. If they don’t start fast, the home crowd may end up a force against them.
Not only does LA have all the pressure on it, the Red Sox have quietly picked up some real momentum, winning six in a row after losing Game 1 of the LCS; plus, they’re 5–0 on the road. It’s one thing to have the pressure on or go up against a hot opponent; it’s another to be up against both.
Walker Buehler is a certified stud but he’s far from perfect, or even as good as his stuff will have you believe he is. That’s because when he pitches himself into trouble, he can’t always pitch himself out of it gracefully, which is all Rick Porcello does. Buehler isn’t on short rest but he threw seventy-three of the highest-leverage pitches of his life six days ago in Game 7; meanwhile, Porcello is on more than extra rest.
The Red Sox won’t have two key weapons they had in Games 1 and 2: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s glove in center, replaced by a wobbly JD Martinez in right and Nathan Eovaldi, assuming Alex Cora still plans to start him in Game 4, or at any point in the series. Eovaldi has only been the guy in the eighth because Cora is desperate. And while it’s still hard for me to believe the ‘pen will keep cruising, you’re nearly bankrupt if you’ve been betting on a meltdown.
As always, the groupthink may be correct. What feels certain is that it exists and is influencing the action. This is a play on an underpriced Red Sox side and an experienced starting pitcher getting the best of a rookie.
Play: Boston +145