World Series: The Red Sox pulled off a minor miracle in Game 4, and now it’s the Dodgers who need one

LOS ANGELES — The final score of Game 4 at Dodger Stadium — a 9-6 Red Sox win that got somewhat interesting in the bottom of the ninth — doesn’t get at the peril the visitors were in at one point in the middle innings. The win-expectancy chart, which tracks each team’s chances of winning the game as said game goes along, digs up what that final score buried. 

When Yasiel Puig laid into an Eduardo Rodriguez two-seamer in the sixth inning and put it over the wall in left-center, the host Dodgers took a 4-0 lead. As you can see above they also at that point had a 95.4 percent chance of winning Game 4 and tying the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Eventually that figure would creep a little higher. Here’s another way of framing the long odds faced by the Red Sox as the seventh inning began: 

It’s one thing to be down 4-0 to the National League champions. It’s something else to be down 4-0 to them on the road and with nine offensive outs remaining. Along the way, Dodger closer Kenley Jansen became just the second pitcher in World Series history to allow game-tying home runs in consecutive games. In defiance of the all history piled up in those odds, Mitch Moreland reduced the deficit to one with a first-pitch, three-run moon-scraper in the seventh. Steve Pearce went deep of Jansen in the eighth to tie it, again off a first pitch. And then in the ninth pinch-hitter Rafael Devers knocked a go-ahead single to flip the script for good. From there the Sox added some insurance runs that proved to be more necessary than expected. 

By hitting on that, oh, five percent chance they had to come back from the Puig blast, the Sox not only won Game 4, but they also shifted those long adds to the Dodgers. L.A., as a result of that squandered sure thing, is now down 3-1 in the series and one loss away from seeing their season end. Now for those odds we just talked about.

  • In the MLB postseason, teams down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series and playing Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) on the road — this, of course, describes the Dodgers’ current straits — have gone on to win that series just 14.9 percent of the time. 
  • Narrow it down to the World Series, and teams down 3-1 have come back to win it all just 13.3 percent of the time. 

To be fair, those aren’t “down 4-0 going into the seventh inning on the road odds,” but they’re pretty imposing just the same. It’s possible, yes, and there’s precedent, but the Dodgers in allowing that Boston offense to break through at last allowed this series to go from “coin flip” territory to long-shot territory. 

If nothing else, though, the Dodgers in Game 4 were reminded that baseball is often home to minor miracles. 

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