Mitch's Sports Report: Red Sox Win! (Even When They Lose) Thoughts On The 2018 Title
With a 5-1 victory in Los Angeles over the Dodgers last night, the Boston Red Sox captured their fourth World Series in the past 14 years, ensuring the franchise's best-ever regular season record of 108 victories would not be relegated to a footnote.
And the MVP of this Fall Classic? A 35-year old so-called journeyman whose acquisition in June was not exactly sports headline news.
Steve Pearce, who grew up cheering for the Red Sox and finally found himself playing for his favorite team after stints with every other squad in the American League east, belted the game-tying home run in game four.
Later in that game he smacked a bases-loaded, clear 'em out double, and followed those heroics last night with two more home runs, the first in the first, a shot off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw that staked the Red Sox to a 2-0 lead, and one they would not relinquish.
By the time Pearce added another solo shot in the 8th he was padding to a 4-1 lead on the backs of two other solo home runs by Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, who had gone hitless in their three games at Dodger Stadium before finally shaking off those doldrums last night.
And who thought the pitching MVP would be David Price, the much-maligned starter who had failed to record a playoff win in his ten year career before this post-season began? If winning game five against Houston on three day's rest to get the Red Sox to the World Series was tucking the naysayers in, last night's 7-inning, 3-hit gem finally put them to bed.
Price was again pitching on just three days' rest, a surprise start over ace Chris Sale, who instead finished the game as a closer, striking out the side in the 9th and making the cheap-shot artist Manny Macahdo look positively goofy by swinging wildly at a down and in slider that dropped him to a knee for the final out of the game.
(Machado added to his bad reputation by deliberately stepping on Pearce's heel while trying half-heartedly to beat out a single, spotted blowing a bubble with his gum when he crossed the bag on the back of Pearce's foot).
But back to Price, who gave up a bottom of the first solo home run to David Freese, then settled in beautifully after that and at one point set down 14 Dodgers in a row. He was also exhibit number take your pick as to the brilliant strategies employed by first year manager Alex Cora, who put reliever Joe Kelly on the playoff roster when many people, yours truly included, thought that was a risky move. Kelly spelled Price in the 8th, allowed nothing to cross the plate, and ended up pitching in very game of the World Series without giving up a single run.
L.A. manager Dave Roberts, meanwhile, was vilified for his game 4 decision to take Rich Hill out of the game in the 7th with his team up 4-0, criticized even by some people who know nothing about baseball and who you'd think would have more important things to worry about, but the truth is his Dodgers were simply beaten by a better team that got contributions from every player in the line-up, with the likes of Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Junior, and Chrstian Vazquez picking up the slack when the stars were scuffling.
But my favorite memory from this victory will be the one game the Red Sox lost, the 18 inning longest playoff game in history, and the Herculean, team before me appearance by Nathan Eovaldi, who pitched brilliantly in relief from the 12th to the 18th and gave every ounce of his being in the process, finally giving up a game ending home run that marked a loss only on paper.
In reality his performance proves that winning is in fact, not everything. That there is nobility in loss as long as you have put forth your most honest and selfless effort. His teammates know this, and we would all do well to embrace the lesson he taught into those early morning hours even as Red Sox fans celebrate another championship title.