The Boston Red Sox are one win away from being crowned World Series Champions.
Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer in the seventh, and Steven Pearce hit a game-tying home run in the eighth, as the Boston Red Sox rallied from a four-run deficit to stun the Los Angeles Dodgers, 9-6, in Game 4 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
"It is a tough loss," admitted a shell-shocked Dave Roberts after the loss. "Any loss in the World Series is difficult, but obviously, now we're in a situation where it's do or die. To their credit, they fought back and won a baseball game."
Undaunted after an 18-inning marathon in Game 3, unworried about a four-run deficit in Game 4, the Red Sox continued to prove why they are considered the best team in baseball, as Boston compiled big hits like trick-or-treaters compile candy.
Before Boston broke out the bats against a bullpen meltdown of epic proportions, Game 4 began as an unlikely pitcher's duel between left-handers Eduardo Rodriguez and Rich Hill.
Both starters took turns throwing five shutout innings before Yasiel Puig broke the game open with a three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth that put the Dodgers up 4-0.
"Puig gave us the lead and a nice cushion," said Machado who was on third base at the time. "We just weren't able to close it out. That's part of the game."
Puig's blast sparked the Dodgers sellout crowd, and awoke an anemic offense that had been silent for the better part of two games.
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Both teams struggled offensively from the start, a likely hangover from the physical and emotional toll from the seven-hour and twenty minute game just hours earlier.
Before the sixth inning, both teams were a combined 0-for-12 with men on base, and 4-for-46 in the last two games overall.
"We had no energy, actually none whatsoever," admitted Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It had to do with Rich Hill, the way he was throwing the ball. Obviously the big swing by Yasiel. But one thing about our team, we keep playing."
Christian Vazquez broke up Hill's no-hitter in the fifth inning after he roped a line-drive single into left field.
Hill, the second oldest pitcher to ever start a World Series game, became a part of some not-so-super World Series trivia when he became the first pitcher since 1968 to hit the opposing pitcher in the Fall Classic. Hill hit Rodriguez with an 86MPH fastball to leadoff the third inning.
Outside of that, Hill was outstanding in his third career World Series start, allowing just one run, on one hit, with three walks, and seven strikeouts in 6 and 1/3 innings.
"This is a tough loss," admitted Hill. "You have to give credit to Boston for the way they came back. Things work out for a reason. It's a really difficult loss. We have an uphill battle."
Hill has allowed a run in each of his three World Series starts in his career, bringing his Fall Classic ERA to 1.80.
"He did everything to put us in a position to win a baseball game," Roberts said of Hill. "We've got to do a better job of picking him up."
Unfortunately for Hill, he was unable to get out of the seventh inning, and it was disastrous for the Dodgers.
Hill issued a leadoff walk to Xander Bogearts before striking out Eduardo Nunez for the first out of the inning. Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts didn't want Hill to face Brock Holt, so he went to the left-hander Scott Alexander in the bullpen.
Alexander was tasked with one job: to get Brock Holt out. Instead, he walked him on four pitches. Roberts went to Ryan Madson after that.
Alex Cora countered with back-to-back left-handed pinch-hitters and Mitch Moreland kicked off the comeback with a three-run moon shot off Madson to cut the lead to one.
"So we got that chance right there. And I saw him throw a couple of changeups to Jackie up in the zone. I decided, why not sit on that one first pitch?" said Moreland of his first-pitch assault of a Madson changeup. "And when he threw it, I saw it pretty good, and put a good swing on it."
The Red Sox became the first team in World Series history to hit two pinch-hit home runs in a single series, and have hit two in four games. They hit only two pinch-hit homers in the entirety of the regular season.
"The manager didn't believe in pinch-hitting early in the season," joked Cora when asked why the Red Sox only had two pinch-hit homers in the regular season and two already in the World Series. "I thought pinch-hitting was a tough spot, a tough at-bat, but obviously we're in the National League, and we have to do that."
Moreland's blast came with two outs, and the Red Sox have now scored 17 of their 23 runs in the World Series with two outs.
"There's only two teams left in the Big Leagues right now, and both teams are going to fight till the end," continued Cora. "Sometimes in October we talk about mechanics and how you feel at the plate and all that, and sometimes it's will. And you will yourself to do great things. And it started very simple. A few good at-bats and then the big swing, and we kept rolling and we didn't stop playing."
Meanwhile, Madson's miserable World Series continues. Madson has inherited seven runners so far in the World Series and somehow eight have scored.
"This is not the first home run I've given up in the World Series," said Madson, who made his 57th postseason appearance in the game. "It's never fun, but you just keep pitching and give the team as much as you can."
He's surrendered eight runs while he's been on the mound, but yet Moreland was the only one he's been responsible for in his three appearances in the World Series.
"You have to be your best against that lineup and I wasn't," said a resigned Madson of his difficult World Series.
In a moment of déjà vu, Dave Roberts brought in closer Kenley Jansen in the eighth inning of a one-run game for presumably a two-inning save.
For those that forgot, Roberts made the same move in the eighth inning of Game 3 on Friday night, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit the game-tying homer off him.
Well, lightning struck twice on Roberts and the Dodgers, as Jansen surrendered the game-tying homer to Pearce less than 24 hours later.
"One bad pitch yesterday and one bad pitch today and they made me pay," said Jansen of the back-to-back blown saves. "We have another game tomorrow and we still have a chance."
Jansen has now blown saves in back-to-back World Series games, becoming the second pitcher in MLB history to allow a game-tying homer in consecutive games of a World Series since Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim did it in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 Fall Classic.
Roberts managerial decisions will surely be questioned for years to come as his team's latest bullpen meltdown felt forseeable and predictable, as he put his team on the precipice of their second straight World Series let down.
Even President Trump weighed in on Roberts as he tweeted his hot take from the comfortable confines of the White House in Washington D.C.
"I'm happy he was tuning in and watching the game," said Roberts of the President's critique of him. "I don't know how many Dodger games he's watched. I don't think he's privy to the conversation. That's one man's opinion."
After Brock Holt hit a one-out double in the top of the ninth, Rafael Devers knocked in the go-ahead run with a single up the middle and the Red Sox completed the comeback.
"We were scuffling bad. And it kind of took a big hit from one of our guys to get everyone going, and obviously that was Mitch Moreland tonight," said Holt. "And after he did that, I think everyone kind of loosened up, and we started putting together good at-bats. And thankfully we did."
The last time the Red Sox rallied from three runs down in the World Series was against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Many fans might remember that game for Carlton Fisk's dramatic "fair or foul," home run in the 12th inning.
Pearce, a 35-year-old veteran, became the latest hero in Boston's decorated postseason history when he cleared the bases with a double in the gap that put the Red Sox ahead 8-4.
"He's a good at-bat. He doesn't expand. He stays in the zone and able to go the other way," said Cora of Pearce. "Like today he was out in front of the first one, then gets a fastball and shoots it the other way. He's a complete player. He's a complete hitter. Very mature. The moment, it's not too big for him."
Pearce joined elite company after the game when he became the third Red Sox player in team history to homer and drive in at least four runs in a World Series game. The other two players to do it? Carl Yastrzemski (1967) and David Ortiz (2004).
Enrique Hernandez kicked off the Dodgers half of the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homer that cut the lead to 9-6, but Cody Bellinger flied out to end the game with the tying run in the on-deck circle in Yasiel Puig.
Game 5 is on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, where three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw takes the mound looking to avoid the Dodgers becoming the first team to lose back-to-back World Series on their home field since the New York Giants in 1936-37.
The Red Sox will counter with Game 2 starter David Price, who will take the mound on three days rest, looking to close out the Dodgers and secure Boston's ninth championship in franchise history.
Only six teams have ever comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series, with the 2016 Chicago Cubs the last team to win three straight elimination games in their quest for a title.
David Price will face off with Clayton Kershaw in Game 5. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15PM PT.
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