Those expecting a pitching classic between Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series were surely disappointed by the performance of both starting pitchers.
Kershaw and Sale are arguably the top two left-handed pitchers in MLB, but neither looked the part in Game 1. Both were worn down and knocked around by their relentless offensive opponents, lasting a combined 24 outs before each departed in the fifth inning.
Their pitching lines were similar. Sale went four innings, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Kershaw also went four innings, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Because both failed to record an out in the fifth inning, they collectively joined this small group of failed Game 1 starters in the World Series.
4th World Series Game 1 in which both starters didnt pitch more than 4 innings.
2004 Red Sox-Cardinals
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 24, 2018
Though Kershaw’s postseason reputation has been that of a disappointment, he’s done his part to alter that narrative with a pair of postseason gems this year. Still, there have been enough struggles, Game 1 included, that many will certainly cling to Kershaw having something to prove.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts conceded that his ace didn’t have his best stuff Tuesday. But he also felt the team didn’t help him enough defensively.
“I don’t think he (Kershaw) had the fastball command that he typically does, missing up in the zone, “Robert said the game. “I don’t think his slider had the depth that we’re used to seeing. And those guys, to their credit, they put some good at-bats on him. And we didn’t play the defense that we typically do. I thought we left some outs out there. And it didn’t make Clayton’s job any easier.”
As for Sale, he was coming off a rough ALCS Game 1, though he was certainly less than 100 percent after landing in the hospital with a stomach ailment shortly after. He’s yet to really establish a postseason legacy of any sort, but this start doesn’t exactly lay a strong foundation.
The biggest takeaway here might just be that we’re destined for another offensive-minded World Series similar to what we saw from the Dodgers and Houston Astros last season. Whichever bullpen holds up best could be the difference. With both already tasked with getting at least 12 outs in Game 1, that’s going to be a challenge.
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