LOS ANGELES — On the one-year anniversary of the biggest trade in baseball history, the first-place Red Sox hit three homers, got a three-hitter from Jake Peavy, and defeated the first-place Dodgers, 8-1.
There was plenty of off-the-field action before the rubber game of the potential World Series matchup.
Pregame in the Sox clubhouse, we had Ryan Dempster explaining the he was not upset when David Ortiz told USA Today he “didn’t like” Dempster hitting A-Rod last weekend. In the dugout, John Farrell said he was OK with Jon Lester’s snappishness after Lester was pulled from Saturday’s brilliant start. Behind the batting cage we had Adrian Gonzalez talking to some of his ex-Sox teammates who pretended to be happy to see the Cooler.
Carl Crawford, meanwhile, continued to avoid anyone who’s ever set foot in Boston and said he would never eat the cream pie for which the city is named. In front of the Sox dugout, we had Dr. Charles Steinberg, who once worked for Frank and Jamie McCourt, and got fingered as the guy who assembled a position paper for Jamie’s planned presidential campaign.
While all this was going down, Janet Marie Smith, the Hall of Fame-bound architect who rebuilt Fenway before she was unceremoniously dismissed by the Sox in 2009, graciously walked her former Boston bosses (Red Sox/Globe owner John Henry, Linda Pizzuti, Tom Werner, Larry and Stacey Lucchino) around the famous LA ballyard. The unfailingly polite Smith has overseen a stunning renovation of Dodger Stadium and can make any situation comfortable.
Then, just when it felt like things couldn’t get any more awkward, ESPN analyst Curt Schilling walked into the pressbox.
Yeesh. Talk about no place to hide . . .
After the resounding Sox victory, the Boston clubhouse was the happiest place on earth. Better than Disneyland. Better than Fenway during “Sweet Caroline.’’ Bosses Henry, Werner, and Lucchino all smiled (sort of) as they filed past a group of scribes minutes after the win.
And why not? Your Boston Red Sox just took four of six on the road against the World Champion Giants and the scalding-hot Dodgers.
The Dodgers had only lost three games in August before the Sox got to town. They were 45-10 since June 22. They had won or tied 18 consecutive series dating to mid-June against the Pirates.
But they were no match for the Red Sox.
Boston’s fortunate sons (the Sox missed Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw this series) took two of three in LA and dominated Sunday night’s finale in every phase of the game.
The Sox played great defense, particularly in the outfield, behind Peavy. Xander Bogaerts had his first big league RBI and two hits. Mike Napoli hit an absolute moonshot homer into the left-field seats and Shane Victorino and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (looking more and more like a 1970s John Lennon) also homered.
Sox starters compiled an ERA of 1.17 on the six-game trip.
“Some of the guys we have going out there every night would be an ace on other teams,’’ said Salty.
“Our starters have been great,’’ added Dustin Pedroia. “They’ve gone deep in every game. We’ve got to continue to do that. Pitching wins.’’
It was the end of a stretch of 16 of 19 games on the road. The Sox went 9-10 during the grueling run. Now they have 30 games to play and 18 will be at home.
“Given the teams we were going to play [on the road stretch] we felt this would present some challenges,’’ said Farrell. “You always want more [wins], but it was good to see [John] Lackey and Lester pitch well. One thing that has seemed to stand out is the continuity and consistency of the rotation.’’
Peavy was masterful for the fourth time in five starts with the Red Sox. At this hour, no one is too worried about losing Jose Iglesias.
“He was pretty adamant he wanted to finish this one off,’’ said Farrell. “Our starters set the tone on this entire trip.’’
The Dodgers are 19-5 in August and 29-7 since the break. Team president Stan Kasten (he invented the Washington Nationals, ran the Braves for Ted Turner, and was boss of the Atlanta Hawks when Larry Bird went for 60 points against the Hawks in New Orleans) feels somewhat vindicated after a Nation mocked the Dodgers for doing the big deal late last summer.
The nine-player, $262 million (payroll going from Boston to LA) transaction changed the landscape of both franchises.
“At the time we felt it fit in perfectly with what our needs were and what our economics were,’’ said Kasten.
“It did a lot of things for us. It helped us tremendously on the field. It set up and re-established this brand in this marketplace to fans who have been the most loyal fans of any franchise anywhere.
“There are 40,000 people who were not here for 50 years and it was important that they know we were going to build for the long term, but also that we were not going to take any shortcuts and be the best that we can right now.’’
Did the reaction bother him — folks who thought the Dodgers were swindled?
“If I worried about that, I wouldn’t last a day,’’ said Kasten. “I remember the words of Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in Havana — ‘This is the business we chose.’ Criticism comes along with it.’’
On the one-year anniversary of the trade, the Red Sox got the better of the Dodgers once again.