BOSTON -- The Dodgers also saw the scoreboard. They know the game's history, too. They are just not going to panic.In the wake of Wednesday night's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, the 2018 World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday with the Dodgers trailing, two
BOSTON -- The Dodgers also saw the scoreboard. They know the game's history, too. They are just not going to panic.
In the wake of Wednesday night's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, the 2018 World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday with the Dodgers trailing, two games to none, but there will not be any dramatic changes to the formula that got them to the Fall Classic for the second consecutive year.
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Remember, this is a club that started the season 16-26. These Dodgers fell behind the Brewers, 2-1, in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series and then defied the odds.
They'll have to do it again. In the history of best-of-seven postseason series with the 2-3-2 format, teams that win the first two games at home have gone on to take the series 41 of 51 times. The last 10 teams to win the first two games of the World Series were later crowned champions.
"We've got to find a way to win a baseball game," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think, coming in here, I thought we played these guys pretty straight up. Obviously, we come out of here going home down, 2-0, but they made pitches when they needed to. And when we stressed them, they made the pitch. And then when it flipped, they got the hit, and we didn't."
The Dodgers won 92 games during the regular season because they believed in their approach at the plate, their offensive depth and their starting pitching. They haven't lost faith, but they are two losses from the start of the offseason.
These are the four things the Dodgers need to do to turn around the World Series:
1. Score first and score often
The Red Sox are 9-0 this postseason when they score first, and they were a Major League-best 74-15 when they scored first during the regular season.
That trend can't continue if the Dodgers, who are 4-2 this postseason when they score first, want to win their first World Series since 1988. They'll also have to improve with runners in scoring position.
Los Angeles is 11-for-47 (.234) with two outs and runners in scoring position this postseason and 1-for-4 in those situations during the World Series. Overall, the Dodgers are 18-for-94 (.191) this postseason, and they are 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position during the World Series.
They expect to be better when they get to Dodger Stadium. They have to be.
"Going home, that can be rejuvenating," second baseman James Dozier said. "We lost back to back, but this team has been resilient. You can wallow in self-pity, or do something about it."
2. Get the third out
Misplays, lack of execution on pitches in key counts and giving the opposing team extra outs is never a good strategy, and failing to close out an inning is magnified during the postseason, especially during the World Series.
In Games 1 and 2, Boston had seven hits with two outs and went 4-for-8 with two outs and runners in scoring position. What's more, the Red Sox have scored 10 of their 12 runs in the World Series with two outs. It's mind-boggling when you consider they are 17-for-41 (.415) with two outs and runners in scoring position this postseason.
L.A.'s defense, while not committing an error, was shaky in Game 1, but it was solid in Game 2. Sometimes you have to give credit to a team that won 108 games during the regular season. But it all comes down to execution, and if Dodgers pitchers can execute their pitches, it gives them a chance to shut down a potential Red Sox rally before it gets started.
Game 2 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu had a 2-1 lead with two out, nobody on and two strikes on No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez in the fifth inning. But Ryu got too much of the plate and let Vazquez slap a single to right. Then the lefty allowed a single to Mookie Betts and an eight-pitch walk to Andrew Benintendi. One pitch from getting out of the inning, Ryu departed with the bases loaded. Ryan Madson walked in the tying run before giving up a two-run single to J.D. Martinez that gave Boston a 4-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
3. Get things right by going left
The Dodgers will get a chance to start their left-handed hitters against righty Rick Porcello in Game 3, and possibly against Nathan Eovaldi in Game 4. That's a good thing for Los Angeles.
Put simply, the presence of lefty sluggers like Cody Bellinger and Player Page for Max Muncy has the potential to flip the Series in the Dodgers' favor. During the regular season, L.A.'s left-handed batters combined to post a Major League-leading .837 OPS against right-handed pitchers.
Muncy, Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal combined to hit 90 home runs and post a .901 OPS over more than 1,500 plate appearances during the regular season.
"It's hard to have guys that slug like Pederson, Muncy, Bellinger on the bench, but this is something that we've done a lot in September and throughout the postseason, and it's proven to be successful," Roberts said. "And those guys are still getting in games and staying current. But, again, when guys are in there, they've just got to be productive."
4. Get more length from starting pitchers
Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler is the ace of the future, and on Friday in Game 3, he's going to have to pitch like an ace of the present.
Neither Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw nor Ryu made it out of the fifth inning, and a third consecutive short outing has the potential to handcuff the bullpen.
Only Kenley Jansen and Dylan Floro have yet to pitch in the World Series, and it's unclear how effective or available lefty Julio Urias and Madson will be after pitching in Games 1 and 2. The good news? Everyone will get much-needed day of rest Thursday.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.