The field at Dodger Stadium was nearly covered by Red Sox players and their families after Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night. Everyone was snapping photos and hugging, the celebration just getting underway.
No player had a bigger smile than Craig Kimbrel, who was carrying his daughter Lydia Joy. She was wide awake and taking in the scene only one week before her first birthday.
That Lydia was on the field with her father was reason enough to celebrate.
She was born with a heart condition that required several rounds of surgery. Kimbrel missed much of spring training to be with Lydia and his wife, Ashley, at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Yet here she was, dressed in a baby-sized jersey with “Kimbrel” across the back as she rode contentedly in her father’s strong right arm.
“This is such a moment. I could not be happier right now,” said Kimbrel, who converted all six postseason save chances he had, despite a 5.91 earned run average.
Kimbrel said his daughter helped motivate him throughout the season, her plight putting baseball in a perspective he had never known before.
“She did a lot for me. A lot,” Kimbrel said. “Life changes when you have a child and the difficulties she went through, it definitely changes your view. It makes you stronger and makes you appreciate things more. It makes you appreciate each day more.”
Lydia may not remember her night on the field after the Sox won, but there will be plenty of photos and videos to paint the picture years from now.
“I might have to remind her of that some time,” Kimbrel said. “But I’m so glad she’s here with me right now.”
Turn of emotions
Game 5 winner David Price was magnanimous when speaking to reporters on the field after the game, saying how much it meant for him to play such a big role for the championship team and that he treasured fulfilling his promise to pitch well for the Red Sox in the postseason.
He also applauded the Sox fans who were still in the stands and flung his cap to one of them. Price also spent time with his wife, son, and parents, smiling throughout.
Price was 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA in six postseason games, shaking off career-long woes in the postseason. At 33, he had his first World Series championship.
Once he got to the interview room, Price’s disposition changed.
“I hold all the cards now and that feels so good,” he told reporters. “That feels so good. I can’t tell you how good it feels to hold that trump card. And you guys have had it for a long time. You’ve played that card extremely well. But you don’t have it anymore, none of you do, and that feels really good.”
Price also lectured media people who didn’t believe the circumstances of his elbow injury in 2017.
“I told you guys, Dr. [James] Andrews said I have a special elbow. I’m sure you guys ridiculed me and mocked me and made fun of me, and did everything that you guys do,” he said. “I wasn’t lying when he told me that, and now you guys see that.”
Then, within the same session, Price got teary when asked about other Red Sox players saying he was a good teammate. He needed a long pause before answering.
“This is a game we get to play. It’s the relationships that you make while you do this, while you play this game that . . . that’s what makes this game so special,” he said.
Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson and vice president of communications and education Jon Shestakofsky left Los Angeles with plenty of Sox memorabilia that will be displayed in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Their haul included a bat used by MVP Steve Pearce in Game 4, a jersey worn by Price in Game 5, game-worn glasses used by Joe Kelly, the cap and spikes worn by Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi throughout the World Series, and the hooded sweat shirt worn by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Off to Japan
Two Red Sox pitchers left off the playoff roster — lefthander Brian Johnson and righthander Hector Velazquez — were named to the team for the seven-game Japan All-Star Series that starts Nov. 8.
Johnson was 4-5 with a 4.17 earned run average in 38 games, 13 of them starts. Velazquez appeared in 47 games, starting eight times. He was 7-2 with a 3.18 ERA.
Don Mattingly of the Marlins will manage the team. Mitch Haniger (Marlins), Yadier Molina (Cardinals), J.T. Realmuto (Marlins), Juan Soto (Nationals), and Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves) are among those on the roster.
Kelly, who had a rocky final four months of the regular season, allowed one earned run over 11⅓ innings in nine playoff games. He also struck out 13 without a walk . . . Lefthander Darwinzon Hernandez and third baseman Bobby Dalbec were selected to the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game, which will be Saturday. Hernandez has a 2.25 ERA in five games. Dalbec has a .762 OPS and 10 RBIs in 11 games.