Clayton Kershaw was no match for the best team in baseball.
For the eighth time in his postseason career, Kershaw surrendered five or more runs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped Game 1 of the World Series, 8-4, at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
The ghosts of World Series past caught up to the three-time Cy Young Award winner when he got butchered by the Boston hitters in the first inning, allowing three hits and two runs before the Boys in Blue could eve catch their breath.
"I made some mistakes in the zone and they made me pay for it," said Kershaw of his start. "My slider was not very good tonight. All around I wasn't very good tonight."
After a rainy afternoon and evening, the clouds parted just in time for first pitch, where temperatures reached as low as 42 degrees during the game.
The Dodgers last played at Fenway Park in 2010, and their unfamiliarity with its quirks was evident from the get-go.
Boston wasted no time getting on the board first as they came out of the gate firing.
Future MVP, Mookie Betts, led off the game for the Sox with a popup in foul territory that turned and twisted first baseman David Freese as he tried to chase the ball down. He ultimately overran the ball and it dropped behind him. Suddenly, a routine out turned into a second chance for Betts.
"It's a hard team to beat no matter what, but yeah you can't give them extra outs either," Kershaw said about the defense behind him.
Betts singled to center field on the next pitch, stole second base on the one after that, and scored the first run of the 2018 World Series on the following pitch, as Andrew Benintendi hit an RBI single to right field.
"It was important for us to score first and kind of put some pressure on them," Betts said.
Kershaw had gone eight consecutive postseason starts without allowing a run in the first inning, but surrendered two in Game 1 of the World Series.
Matt Kemp cut the lead in half on his first World Series plate appearance, as he sent a 3-2 fastball from Sale into the seats atop the Green Monster to put the Dodgers on the scoreboard.
The Dodgers tied the game in an uncharacteristic way in the top of the third when they worked three consecutive singles off Sale to level the score.
"We were facing a guy who's one of the best of all time," said Andrew Benitendi who had three hits off Kershaw alone. "A lot of guys didn't have experience off of him. We had a good game plan. We tried not to give away at-bats."
Martinez continued to torment Kershaw with an RBI double in the bottom of the third that gave the Red Sox the 3-2 lead.
After a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier chased Sale from the game, Justin Turner followed with a single to left field and both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Matt Barnes.
A few pitches later, Machado grounded out to second base, scoring the tying run on the fielder's choice.
Kershaw kicked off the bottom half of the fifth inning with a leadoff walk to Betts, and his third single surrendered to Benintendi, before leaving the game for Ryan Madson.
"I just felt right there that Madson had a better chance to get those righties and get a punch right there," said Roberts about his decision to remove Kershaw from the game in the fifth. "We had a grounder that we could've gotten out of the inning and Boegarts just beat it out."
Madson thought he was out of the jam after striking out Martinez with the bases loaded and inducing a groundout to short, but Xander Bogaerts beat out the potential double play by a step, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
"He gets down the line really well. It's probably one of the toughest turns for me just because he's running so hard," said Dozier of the play. "I knew it was going to be close. I tried to put a little extra on it, but Bogaerts just beat it out."
One batter later, Rafael Devers hit an RBI single to right field, and the Red Sox went back up by two, 5-3.
Kershaw (2-2) did not have his best stuff again in Game 1, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and just five strikeouts in four innings.
"I didn't pitch very well," Kersaw said matter of factly. "I don't think the weather or the stadium had anything to do with it."
Machado hit a sacrifice fly to shave the lead down to one-run, but Eduardo Nuñez hit a backbreaking three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to break the game open for Boston.
"I knew he didn't want me to beat him with a fastball," said Nuñez of the at-bat. "So I wil see all at-bat something soft and he did it twice."
Before Nuñez's homer broke the game open, Benintendi hit a soft fly ball down the left field line that Joc Pederson appeared to be scared to catch. He hesitated right before the ball trickled off his glove, giving Benintendi a double, and another runner on base for Nuñez to knock home.
"I was running in and calling it off," said Pederson of the play. "I was looking at JT [Justin Turner] to visualizer where he was, where the fence was, and I just couldn't get to it."
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, one of the coldest days in World Series history also meant their bats would go cold, as L.A. went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
Overall, the Dodgers struck out 12 times, as they were neutralized by the Boston bullpen in the late innings of the game.
Chris Sale completed four innings and was responsible for three of the four Dodger runs, allowing five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in his first start since Game 1 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
"That was good stuff today," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Sale. "Stuff-wise, probably the best in the postsewason, and he feels really good, no problems with the belly button."
Los Angeles will now have to defeat former Cy Young Award winner David Price in order to muster a split before the series moves to Tinseltown.
"We came into this hoping to split," said Dozier. "If we can split here and then go back to LA then I think we're in good shape. Can't lose back-to-back games."
One final note, Lakers legend and Dodgers owner Magic Johnson was at Fenway for the World Series opener, and fans serenaded the basketball great with chants of "Beat LA!" a familar call for the man played in so many finals at the Boston Garden in the 1980s.
Game 2 will feature another matchup of Southpaws as Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu starts for the Dodgers opposite David Price for the Red Sox. First pitch is 5:09PM PT on FOX.
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