The San Gabriel Mountains shimmering in the distance will be a welcome sight for the Los Angeles Dodgers after two chilly, failed nights at Fenway Park.
No team has overcome a 2-0 World Series deficit in 22 years, but that is the tall task the Dodgers face after crumbling before the 37-foot-high Green Monster.
“It’s going to be warmer, and hopefully our bats get hot, too,” Cody Bellinger said after Wednesday night’s 4-2 defeat to the Boston Red Sox.
No wonder they were California Dreamin’ about Thursday’s flight home.
Used to the balmy breezes at home and usually hospitable weather in the NL West, Los Angeles hadn’t started a game this year in a temperature below 58. Facing a 53-degree temperature at the start of the opener, the Dodgers lost 8-4. It was just 46 in the first inning for Game 2, and the Dodgers’ bats were cold again — their last 16 hitters retired in order.
“This is the first time we’ve played in obviously weather like this — San Francisco a little bit, but nothing like this,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “So it’s an adjustment, and that’s part of the home-field advantage and especially being in the bullpen, where you have a little heater, but still have to kind of get hot and stay hot. It’s more of a challenge.”
Ryan Madson was unusually open about how out of sorts the Dodgers were on late October nights in the northeast.
“Last night in the bullpen, we had a couple of heaters going,” he said before Game 2. “It was warm out there, but to get up and move around. I didn’t feel as gummy as usual when it’s 75, 80 degrees. So I’m going to make that adjustment tonight, move around a little bit more. I’m going to tell the guys who didn’t pitch last night, just move around a little bit more than usual, move your knee joints. But maybe they’re young and they don’t feel it.”
Madson’s problem was the lack of movement on his pitches, as well as a changeup he threw for a wild pitch in Game 1. Brought in to relieve Hyun-Jin Ryu and protect a 2-1 lead with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth a night later, he walked Steve Pearce and gave up a two-run single to J.D. Martinez before throwing a single offspeed pitch.
“The ball’s not going where I want it. Last night it was pulling down to the left, and tonight it was high to the right,” Madson said .
Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was annoyed at the conditions experienced by his relievers in a bullpen just in front of the right field bleachers.
“Brutal. Pretty brutal,” he told Sports Illustrated. “What I don’t understand is why baseball allows it. You’ve got the rubber right there and people literally standing over you.”
Fenway’s frenzied fans benefit the Red Sox, a big-league best 57-24 at home during the regular season and 8-1 in the World Series since 2004.
“They live baseball 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Boston manager Alex Cora, who played for the Dodgers from 1998-04 and for the Red Sox from 2005-08. “They were into every pitch. Two strikes, they stood up. Madson came in and he was wild, and they were screaming and they were loud. Sometimes we take them for granted, honestly.”
If Los Angeles is to recover, it will be at Chavez Ravine. The temperature for last year’s World Series opener at Dodger Stadium was 103 degrees. A more temperate mid-80s is forecast for Friday, when rookie Walker Buehler starts against Rick Porcello in an attempt to spark a turnaround. With a right-hander on the mound for Boston, the Dodgers’ top three home-run hitters are likely to be back in the starting lineup: Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Yasmani Grandal, all left-handed hitters.
“We’re going to shuffle it up for Game 3, but it’s not because of necessarily performance, it’s kind of who the starting pitcher for those guys is,” Roberts said.
But even if the Dodgers win at least two of three to force the Series back to Boston, they would still have to win at least once at quirky, noisy Fenway. There is no sign they can warm to the task.
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