It's been more than a century since the two franchises faced off in the Fall Classic. The Boston Red Sox don't have Babe Ruth -- as they did back in 1916 -- and the Los Angeles Dodgers aren't the Brooklyn Robins anymore. But Boston sends ace Chris Sale to the mound at Fenway Park against L.A.'s Clayton Kershaw -- a matchup of two of the best left-handed pitchers of this era.
Let's do this.
The most important thing of the day: Sale and Kershaw don't exactly have unblemished records in October, but none of that matters now. What might matter more: Sale made just one appearance in the American League Championship Series after needing to be hospitalized with a stomach illness following his Game 1 start. Sale blamed an infection from a belly-button ring (not so seriously). Kershaw, meanwhile, wasn't officially named the Game 1 World Series starter until Monday, after pitching the ninth inning of the Dodgers' Game 7 National League Championship Series clincher over the Brewers on Saturday night. But if both of them are as nasty as they can be, this could be one for the ages.
World Series Game 1: Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox
The stakes: Momentum is a key factor. So too, apparently, are lengthy layoffs. It's been 10 years since the last team (the 2008 Phillies) went on to win it all after being the first to clinch a World Series berth. The Red Sox wrapped up the American League pennant on Thursday, so they've had a couple extra days on the Dodgers to rest -- or get cold -- heading into Tuesday's Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
If the Red Sox win: You can forget all about the above. No, a win won't guarantee anything, but it would mean the Fall Classic favorite will have picked up where it left off after taking four straight -- including three in a row on the road -- from Houston in the ALCS.
If the Dodgers win: Mission accomplished. Taking the first game at Fenway Park would be huge for manager Dave Roberts & Co., not only giving them an early edge in the Series, but erasing the Red Sox's home-field advantage, with a shot at -- gasp! -- going up 2-0 heading to L.A. for Game 3.
One key stat to know: Kershaw has never pitched at Fenway Park -- nor has he ever faced the Red Sox. Sale? He last faced the Dodgers on June 15, 2012, taking a no-decision at Dodger Stadium. It was only his second appearance against L.A. -- his other was a relief outing in 2011.
The matchup that matters most: Kershaw has never faced the Red Sox, but he has faced Boston slugger J.D. Martinez, whose Diamondbacks lost to L.A. in last year's division series. It's a small sample size, but Martinez is a .455 lifetime hitter, with two home runs and a 1.591 OPS, in 11 at-bats (13 plate appearances) against Kershaw. One of those home runs came last October, in Game 1 of the NLDS, though the Dodgers went on to win 9-5.
The story on social media: Two aces going all-in for the, um, ring ...
A real warrior, pitching through a belly button ring infection. pic.twitter.com/kPe0w7vOhS— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 21, 2018
The prediction: Well, I picked the Dodgers to win in six and Kershaw to win MVP honors, so I'd better pick the Dodgers to win this game.
Kershaw never pitching at Fenway Park before is kind of cool, bringing back memories of pre-interleague play World Series when players were going to new parks and facing new teams. Both teams hit worse against left-handed pitching, so it could be a low-scoring game, especially with cold and damp weather expected.
I think Kershaw pitches a gem, while I'm a little worried about Sale's health -- his fastball velocity averaged just 92.0 mph against the Astros, compared to 97-98 over the summer. L.A. wins a close one. Dodgers 3, Red Sox 2. -- David Schoenfield, ESPN.com