Dodgers’ bullpen can’t stop bleeding after Kershaw exit
BOSTON (AP) — The first delivery from Ryan Madson was a changeup that bounced past catcher Austin Barnes for a wild pitch, allowing two baserunners to advance.
Things hardly got better from there for the previously dependable Dodgers bullpen.
Madson and three other relievers failed to slow Boston’s bats on a night when ace Clayton Kershaw wasn’t at his best, either, and Los Angeles fell to the Red Sox 8-4 in the World Series opener Tuesday.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been able to count on his relievers this October. The group is 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA, limiting opponents to a .180 average.
Against the AL champions at their chilly home park, though, that group went ice cold in Game 1.
“You’re going to have to go to the ’pen and play matchups, and that’s kind of how I saw it, we saw it,” Roberts said. “But they got the big hit when they needed it.”
Kershaw was chased from a 3-3 game in the fifth after walking Mookie Betts and allowing a single to Andrew Benintendi.
Roberts gave the ball to Madson, a key piece when LA’s bullpen covered 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a Game 7 victory over Milwaukee to close out the Championship Series. Roberts has leaned on Madson in the tightest spots this October. This was his eighth appearance this postseason, and he came into Tuesday with just 16 runs allowed in 53 2/3 postseason innings for his career.
All his experience, yet Madson choked that first changeup to let Betts and Benintendi advance, then finished off a four-pitch walk to Steve Pearce.
Madson recovered momentarily, striking out J.D. Martinez on three straight fastballs. But a groundout by Xander Bogaerts allowed Betts to score, and a sharp single by Rafael Devers stretched Boston’s edge to 5-3 before the inning ended.
“Didn’t anticipate the four-pitch walk,” Roberts said. “But even with that, we had a grounder that we could’ve gotten out of the inning ... and Bogaerts just beat it out.”
Julio Urias replaced Madson for the sixth and cruised through a 1-2-3 inning, but it all fell apart for Los Angeles in the seventh.
Urias allowed a leadoff ground-rule double to Benintendi — a bloop down the left-field line that bounced off Joc Pederson’s glove before bouncing into the seats. Pedro Baez replaced Urias and struck out two around an intentional walk to Martinez.
Though Baez was cruising, Roberts handed the ball to Alex Wood, a move that prompted Boston manager Alex Cora to pinch hit right-handed hitting Eduardo Nunez for the lefty-hitting Devers.
That matchup undid the Dodgers. Nunez took one knuckle curve for a ball, then drilled the next over the Green Monster.
Wood was a breakout All-Star as a starter in 2017, but he’s been pushed to the bullpen and struggled there this postseason. Nunez’s homer was the third Wood has allowed in 5 2/3 innings.
Roberts said he has no regrets pulling Baez from the game.
“We talked about it with Petey (Baez) throwing the ball well right there,” Roberts said. “But Devers is really good against the right hander and to get a guy off the bench and Nunez. I really liked Alex in that spot.”
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