BOSTON – Andrew Benintendi walked into the post-game interview as if he’s been collecting World Series hits all his life.

Benintendi, 24, just played his first World Series game, and recorded four hits, in the Boston Red Sox 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Three of those hits came against famed lefty Clayton Kershaw.

“We had a good game plan. We stuck to it,” Benintendi said of Game 1.

Benintendi became only the third Boston player with four hits in a World Series game. Benintendi didn’t know it.

“I don’t really care, honestly,” Benintendi said. “I’m just glad we won.”

Benintendi is not the only kid playing like he’s been on this big stage before. Rafael Devers, a left-handed hitter like Benintendi, drew a walk in his first appearance against Kershaw. He would later single in a run.

Devers has 13 post-season RBI in his short career, the second-most by any player 21-years-old or younger. Devers won’t add to that list. He turns 22 on Wednesday.

Andrew Benintendi hits a single in the third inning, one of four hits he had in the game.

But if the young kids are playing like veterans, what to make of this first-year manager?

Alex Cora, 43, was again making all the right calls. He continues to be a maestro of the bullpen, directing relievers in near-perfect precision, while unexpectedly adding starting pitchers into the mix.

In the field, Cora made the decision to start Devers over right-handed hitting Eduardo Nunez.

“(Cora) explained the situation,” Nunez said. “I was going to be prepared in the seventh, eighth inning. If they bring in (another) lefty for Devers. That was the plan.”

So, even though Devers was 1-for-2 with an RBI, Cora did not allow him to bat against left-handed reliever Alex Wood in the seventh inning.

Nunez pinch-hit and launched a three-run homer, for a whole lot of breathing room, extending a 5-4 lead to 8-4.

“We felt Raffi was going to hang in there against Kershaw and, having (Nunez) on the bench, it was going to pay off,” Cora said.

Boston Red Sox’s Eduardo Nunez watches his three-run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Alex Wood, front, during the seventh inning of Game 1 of the World Series baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

And so it goes for Cora. He gets only four innings from starter Chris Sale – as do the Dodgers with Kershaw – and yet Boston never trailed. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts is known for his multiple moves in a game. Cora was ready to counter every time.

“He’s the reason we’re here,” Nunez said of Cora. “Every move we make, it’s for a reason, and it’s a good reason.”

For a game-planning fanatic like Cora, facing Roberts and the Dodgers – a team Cora says makes substitutions like a hockey team switching lines – is a challenge.

“I love it,” Cora said. “They’re going to mix and match. They’re going to pinch-hit. They’re going to bring their relievers.

“You know how I say I hate managing the other team, but actually you have to manage them – see who they have and where they’re going to come in.”

Cora set up his relievers for the Dodgers. He retained Games 3 and 4 starters Nathan Eovaldi and Rock Porcello as relievers in other games – Cora calls them his “rovers.” He also added Drew Pomeranz, to join Eduardo Rodriguez as the two lefties in the pen.

“They’re going to have to get big outs somewhere,” Cora said.

In the top of the seventh inning, after Los Angeles scored a run to close to 5-4, with two outs and runners on first and second, Cora called on Rodriguez to face left-handed hitter Cody Bellinger, the NLCS MVP. It was one of the key at-bats, and Rodriguez got Bellinger to fly out to shallow center.

That was the Dodgers’ last threat as Eovaldi and closer Craig Kimbrel finished with perfect frames. They capped a game-saving relief effort of five innings after starter Chris Sale could only manage four.

“I thought offensively we had a great game plan, to get Sale’s pitch count up and get him out of there, to get to their pen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

But the pen was mightier.

Matt Barnes allowed an inherited run to score in the fifth, and Joe Kelly dominated in a 1-2-3 sixth. Kelly struck out Matt Kemp and then Kike Hernandez on three pitches (curve, 100 mph fastball and change-up). Yasiel Puig, who can crush breaking balls, came up. Kelly fed him five fastballs, ranging from 99 to 100 mph, and Puig grounded out.

“Joe was outstanding,” said Cora, who went to Ryan Brasier in the seventh. “It wasn’t his best night.”

Mookie Betts scores on a double by Andrew Benintendi to get the Red Sox out to a 1-0 lead over the Dodgers in the first inning of Tuesday night’s World Series opener in Boston.

But Brasier limited the damage to one run, yielding to Rodriguez to finish the inning.

Los Angeles could not catch up.

If the Dodgers had a good offensive plan, what of the Red Sox and their 11 hits?

“From the first at-bat, we put pressure on them,” Cora said.

It was all part of Boston’s plan, prepared by Cora and staff – and executed by his players.

And if a plan backfires? Boston can be a tough town when the manager makes mistakes.

“I really don’t care if they second-guess me,” Cora said. “We prepare as a group, and you make decisions.”

So far, those decisions are turning into wins. Cora is conducting, and his players performing, no matter what the opposition is bringing.

“When you have the talent like we do, and we have guys who can hit lefties or righties, you feel comfortable,” Cora said. “You feel comfortable with any matchup and they proved that (Tuesday night).”

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.