Red Sox can stake claim as one of the greatest teams in baseball history
LOS ANGELES — You can go back to bed now, New England. There’ll be no more late October nights watching the Red Sox thrash assorted Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers.
The 2018 baseball season is over and the Boston Red Sox are World Series champions for the fourth time in 15 seasons. Led by David Price’s seven-plus stellar innings and home runs by Steve Pearce (two), Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez, the Sox defeated the Dodgers, 5-1, in Dodger Stadium (a.k.a. “Fenway West”) Sunday night, winning the 114th Fall Classic in dominant fashion.
So there. New England has another masterpiece for its professional sports High Renaissance.
In the 21st century, we are at 11 championships and counting. Presumably, the Patriots will be going for No. 12 in February, and the Celtics for No. 13 in June. Boylston Street is our Canyon of Heroes.
Staking a claim as one of the greatest teams in baseball history, the 2018 Red Sox finished with 119 wins, including an 11-3 record in the postseason. Matched against the defending world champions (Astros), and two of the game’s signature franchises, the Sons of Alex Cora clinched all three playoff series on the road, shredding the competition by an aggregate 84-51. Pearce, who hit two homers and knocked in seven runs in the final two games, was named World Series MVP.
This is an alternate universe for Sox fans of a certain age. During the 86-year drought, the Red Sox lost the World Series four times, each in an excruciating seventh game. Not anymore. The Red Sox own the World Series in this century, winning in 2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018. The Sox are 16-3 in World Series games in the new millennium.
The Game 5 clincher completed the redemption of David Price, who has been something of a local dartboard ornament since signing a $217 million contract three years ago. Now all is forgiven. After a decade of postseason failure, Price in October ’18 won his last three playoff starts, including the clinchers in the ALCS and World Series. Try to imagine Charlie Brown kicking the game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl. That’s what we just saw.
Thousands of Red Sox fans hung around at Dodger Stadium after the final out. They chanted “Yankees suck’’ before watching the presentation of the Commissioner’s Trophy. They cheered madly when Price’s image was featured on the jumbo videoboard. They even serenaded the victory platform with a rendition of “Sweet Caroline.’’
“This is the greatest Red Sox team ever,’’ Sox (and Globe) owner John Henry said after hoisting the trophy.
“What a season!’’ said Cora, who stood on the same infield as a champion with the Astros (bench coach) last year. “What a way to end it.’’
Pearce saluted the fans from the victory platform, hollering, “We’re world champions, baby!’’
Game 5 featured Clayton Kershaw vs. Price, a duel of veteran southpaws with dubious postseason résumés. Price was the winner with seven innings of three-hit pitching. Joe Kelly came on to strike out the side in the eighth and staff ace Chris Sale did the same in a rare relief appearance in the ninth. Fittingly, postseason bowser Manny Machado fanned on an 0-and-2 pitch to end it at 11:17 Eastern Daylight Time.
The Dodgers were hoping to stave off elimination, send the series back to Fenway Park, and become the eighth team in baseball history to recover from a 3-1 World Series deficit.
In October of 2018, “Beat LA” was more than a chant.
Sunday was LA’s Sports Equinox with the Kings, Rams, Galaxy, Ducks, Clippers, and Dodgers all playing home games with starting times spanning from 12:30 to 6:30.
All day long, Los Angeles fans complained about Dave Roberts’s decision to lift Rich Hill in the seventh inning of Game 4 Saturday night. Hill was working on a 4-0 shutout before Roberts came out with the hook. The Sox scored nine straight runs vs. LA’s combustible bullpen and cruised to a 9-6 win. It changed everything in this series and Roberts was ripped by everyone from Mary Hart to President Trump.
Roberts may go down in history as a guy who helped win two World Series for the Red Sox: 2004, with his stolen base against Mariano Rivera and the Yankees, and now in 2018, when he pulled Hill from a one-hit shutout. Perhaps Roberts should have his own plaque in the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Roberts’s steal is enshrined as a Sox HOF moment. “The Hook” qualifies him for individual citation.
Game 5 was preceded by a nifty canned video presentation featuring legendary rivals Magic Johnson and Larry Bird talking baseball. Bird concluded his remarks, donning a Red Sox cap, and telling Magic that he’d need it to shield his eyes from the World Series trophy that the Sox were about to win. The video quickly went viral.
Orel Hershiser chucked the ceremonial first pitch. They should have rolled out Sandy Koufax.
It didn’t take the Sox long to jump ahead. After a one-out single by Andrew Benintendi, Pearce drove Kershaw’s sixth pitch over the wall in left-center to make it, 2-0. The right side of Dodger Stadium erupted. Clearly, a lot of Dodgers fans had sold their tickets. Matt Damon — son of the late Kent Damon, who coached baseball at Newton North — was among the throng of Sox watchers in the baby-blue ballpark.
Pearce hit his second homer of the night in the eighth; not bad for a 35-year-old journeyman (Pearce has played for all five AL East teams) who was acquired by Dave Dombrowski in late June for the immortal Santiago Espinal. Over the final two games, Pearce hit three homers and drove in seven runs.
“This is exactly where we knew we were gonna be,’’ said Pearce. “That’s what our team is about. We show up every single day.’’
On a team with the highest payroll in baseball, a team with Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel, Steve Pearce was MVP of the World Series.
That’s the way it went all year with this team. The Sox were loaded with big names and high-priced talent, but the Joe Kellys and Steve Pearces were ever ready when needed.
Gentlemen, start your duck boat engines.
The Boston Red Sox are world champions.