By: Chad Jones
Chris Sale struck out Manny Machado with a Mr. Snappy Slider to end the 2018 baseball season. Once Christian Vazquez carraled that wild, sweeping pitch, the Red Sox were the 2018 World Series Champions.
The first two players to embrace, as usually is the case, is the battery; Sale and Vazquez. The next player to join the hug fest was none other than David Price, who was the best Red Sox pitcher in the World Series. He easily could have won the MVP of the series, although Steve Pearce was a very worthy recipient (more on these two later). Boston finished with 119 wins, the second most wins ever in a season. They came into the postseason with something to prove and they rose to the occasion, stamping their ticket into Boston sports lore.
One player deserves to be mentioned first. David Price.
Nobody thought he would win, let alone dominate, the last two clinching games for the Red Sox this postseason. He was embarrassed by the Yankees in game two of the ALDS. After allowing four runs in four and two thirds to the Astros, the fans maybe thought that was the best he would do in October. Price finally got over his postseason mental block.
Whether Price watched “Good Will Hunting” or read up on Sigmund Freud, he looked like a different man on the mound his last three trips to the mound. In his first two postseason starts, Price gave up seven runs while surrendering three long balls in just five and one third innings.
In his last four postseason outings (three starts and one relief appearance) he allowed three runners to score, while giving up one homerun in 19 and two thirds innings. He also beat past CY Young winners and future hall of famers Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw on the road, both times on three days rest, to help the Sox clinch the American League and World Series. In less than 20 innings, David Price completely changed his legacy. He was ripped repeatedly for his postseason woes and the criticisms were justified. He was not just good, not just a passenger for this team winning – he was a huge reason why they won.
The other two players who were incredible in the postseason, and even more so in the postseason were Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce. Both of them were added in July when the Red Sox were looking to improve to their already loaded roster. Nobody thought they would be so instrumental in helping the Red Sox capture their ninth title in franchise history. Nathan Eovaldi probably had the best loss in postseason history, going 6 innings out of the pen and saving the Red Sox from having to use Chris Sale, and saving Red Sox fans from seeing Drew Pomeranz.
Steve Pearce finished as the World Series Most Valuable Player with three homers and eight runs batted in. He became the second Red Sox ever to hit three homeruns in a World Series, becoming the first since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. In three straight at bats, he hit a solo homer in the 8th of Kenley Jansen, tying game four. He cleared the bases with two outs in 9th, giving Kimbrel breathing room he ended up needing. And he gave the Sox the lead in game five with a two run homer in the first of Kershaw. Three at bats, three hits, two homers, six RBI for Steve Pearce. Raise your hand if you thought Eovaldi and Pearce were going to morph into Pedro Martinez and Carl Yastrzemski. (It is hard getting everything right)
The first 25 innings in Los Angeles included moments of frustration, and disappointment for Boston. After game three of the series, Boston had just lost an 18 inning game they should have won in the 13th (great play by Kinsler), and were down four runs heading into the top of the seventh. There was a missing persons report filed trying to find the Red Sox offense. They had been held to two runs in the last 27 innings of World Series play (They did not score in the last three innings of game two, only managed two runs in 18 innings, and could not do anything for the first six innings of game four).
It was not looking good for the Sox with Rich Hill tossing a one hitter. However, a Bogaerts walk leading off the seventh made Dave Roberts pull Hill from the game. Brock Holt reached first after four balls from Scott Alexander and, for some reason, Ryan Madson was called in from the bullpen.
Roberts having Madson try to terminate the Red Sox rally was the equivalent of an Illinois police station hiring Michael Myers to help end the killings of babysitters. Madson promptly gave up a moon shot off the bat of Mitch Moreland that just landed an hour ago in Vancouver. The Red Sox took control of the series from there, outscoring the Dodgers fourteen to three over the final twelve innings of the Fall Classic.
The Red Sox were able to cruise to a World Series title in five games with Chris Sale giving up three runs in just five innings, Mookie Betts hitting .217 with six strikeouts, and Craig Kimbrel surrendering two runs while only striking out a pair in four and one third innings.
They won because role players rose to the occasion again. Steve Pearce won the MVP, Nathan Eovaldi gave up one earned run in eight innings, Eduardo Rodriguez gave the Sox a chance by going scoreless through five (Alex Cora admitted he left him in too long). They won because Joe Kelly became Ricky Vaughn and baffled the Dodgers hitters with heaters and curveballs.
Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez became the best bell answerers in the history of answering bells (Nunez survived about three car accidents on the field, and Devers convinced his parents to let him stay up past his bedtime, both incredibly impressive feats). All 25 players did their job, even Drew Pomeranz, who handed Eovaldi and Sale Gatorade in the bullpen.
The Red Sox kept proving to Major League Baseball two things this year; they were the best team when they were firing on all cylinders and they were the best when they faced challenges. They never let bad games carry over to cause a losing streak, which is evident by them being swept only once this year and only losing one game a series in October. They still won a 108 games in the regular season, even with Sale only making one full start after the trading deadline and only giving them 15 and 1/3rd innings in the postseason. They stayed calm going to New York tied in the series, even after Price got his lunch handed to him in game two. They beat down the defending champions four games in a row, three in Houston, after a frustrating game one performance. The team picked themselves up after losing a brutal 18 inning marathon. Starting pitchers all let Cora know they were available if the team needed them.
They were the best team in the sport, and they knew it from day one. The fans and media were not as sure as the players when the season began. The Red Sox proceeded to have one of the best and most dominant seasons a Boston team has ever experienced. They will forever be regarded in the same breath as legendary teams, such as the 1986 Boston Celtics and 2004 New England Patriots. They did not want to be remembered like the 2007 Patriots, an incredible team that came up short of a title.
Once the duck boats rolled down Boylston Street, Boston was able to show their appreciation to the most talented Red Sox team ever. The 2004 and 2013 Red Sox will always hold a special place in New England’s heart. However, it is hard for any Red Sox fan to deny that the 2018 Boston Red Sox is the greatest team in franchise history.