2018 World Series Champions

Mlb World Series Boston Red Sox At Los Angeles Dodgers
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, the 108-win Boston Red Sox are World Champions!

What a season it was.  Even after winning 108 games, there were a far amount of questions going into the ALDS versus the New York Yankees.  Having won only one playoff game the last two seasons, could this team band together to win when it mattered? Could David Price come up clutch? Would the bats wake up when it mattered? Was Boston clutch enough?

Mazz (and I know you’re reading this): yes there where.

Lets recap

ALDS

Brock Holt Photos - 68 of 687
Credit: Getty Images North America

The Red Sox made easy work of the New York Yankees, beating the Bronx Bombers by 3 games to 1 in the ALDS.  This is where we saw the beginning of Nathan Eovaldi (more on that later), as he pitched 7 innings in a Game 3 win, becoming the first starter not named Jon Lester to go 7 and win in a decade.  JD Martinez opened up the series in style, hitting a 3-run shot in his first at-bat of the series.  The bullpen was shaky the first 2 games, but it did not matter in Game 3, as the offense put on a SHOW.  David Price was shaky in his start, but that was the only blemish of the series.  Although Craig Kimbrell almost gave Game 4 away, a great play at first by Steve Pearce won Boston their first playoff series since 2013.

ALCS

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros - Game Four
Credit: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Congrats, you beat the 100-win Yankees! Your prize? The 103-win (and defending champs) Houston Astros…

As Justin Verlander put up a solid outing in Game 1, it looked like this series would be a challenge… little did we know.

Game 2, another shaky start by Price, but the Sox pulled through, winning 7-5.  In a back and forth game, the Sox kept fighting back, and they put up enough runs when the game mattered (a common theme).  Onto Houston.

In Game 3, Nathan Eovaldi put up another good performance, but this game will be remembered for what Jackie Bradley Jr. did.  In the 8th inning of a 4-2 game, Jackie came up with a CLUTCH home run, sending a grand slam into the stands, putting the game out of reach for Houston.  Continuing a theme of getting RBIs with 2 outs, JBJ began to shut some critics up (me included) with his bat, something that would come in handy 24 hours later.

Game 4 will be remembered for a home run that wasn’t.  In a 2-0 game, Jose Altuve hit a shot to right field.  What looked like a potential amazing catch by Mookie Betts, he was interfered by a fan, who hit his glove as he went up for the ball along the right field wall.  Although there was massive confusion, the call on the field was interference, and replay was inconclusive.  The rules leaned to calling it a home run, but Joe West had the final call; thank you Joe West.  The game proceeded to be back and forth, but ANOTHER clutch home run by JBJ led to some separation.  Kimbrell, who came on in the 8th, was shaky again, but closed the door.  The two-run difference is what Altuve’s home run would have been worth, but Houston had 8 innings to make up for it; we earned the win.

Game 5, the redemption of David Price.  Price began to shut up his critics (including me) by putting out a dominant performance in a close out game in the playoffs.  Price pitched 6 innings, only gave up 3 hits, and struck out 9, for his first win as a starter in the postseason.  A huge relief for Price, and a World Series appearance clinched by number 24.  Onto Los Angeles.

World Series

Credit: USA Today

Some began to call it a coronation, as any team from the NL was going to have a worse record than what Boston faced against New York or Houston.  Nevertheless, competition is competition, and you have to play the games to win; that was the task against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Game 1, Boston did just that.  Mookie won the fans tacos by stealing a base (thanks in advance for the prolonged bathroom stay Mookie).  Chris Sale was shaky in his start, but so was Clayton Kershaw, and neither pitcher reached 5 innings.  The Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the 5th, but Boston responded to take the lead back.  The Dodgers quickly made it 4-3, but a three-run pinch-hit homer by Eduardo Nunez in the 7th gave Boston a 8-4 lead, putting LA to bed.

In Game 2, Price was out for blood yet again.  He gave up 2 ER in the 4th, but bounced back to get through 6 innings.  Although Boston was trailing 2-1, no one was worried.  Boston scored 3 runs (all with 2 outs) to take the lead.  What looked like a quick inning suddenly became the end of the game for LA, as even with those 2 outs, Boston was able to capitalize (yet again).  In innings 7-9, Boston relievers did not let one runner on, Joe Kelly, rover Nathan Eovaldi, and Craig Kimbrell did their jobs to secure the victory.

Only if everyone knew what Game 3 had in store.

The longest game in World Series history, Game 3 lasted 7 hours and 21 minutes.  If you began watching The Office at 8:09 PM EST (starting time of the game), by the time the game was over (3:30 AM EST), you would have been watching Season 2, Episode 15 (I was bored, okay).

I will not talk about the 15 fuck ups by Ian Kinsler, but rather, the heroic effort put up by Nathan Eovaldi.  Entering the game in the 12th inning, Eovaldi saved the Boston pitching staff that remained (Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale) by throwing 6+ innings.  What would have equated to a good start by any other metric, unfortunately, it ended in inning 18 when Max Muncy ended this game with a home run.

Only 45 minutes away from being the longest game in MLB history.

After an amazing start by Dodger Walker Buehler, JBJ tied the game in the bottom of the 8th with a home run (see the theme here), and the game… just… kept… going.

Although we lost, Boston put up an amazing performance, as Eduardo Nunez got hurt in the game, but could not exit because no position players were left to come in.  Bogaerts began cramping up as the game went on.  Christian Vasquez was playing first base, a position the catcher had never player before.  And Nathan Eovaldi had to keep hitting, and well, he’s here to pitch.  I commend the effort. 2 games to 1.

In Game 4, things began to unravel a bit in the 6th.  LA cracked the game open, and with a Yasiel Puig 3-run homer, the score was suddenly 4-0.

But Boston did not waver.

As mentally draining as Game 3 could have been the rest of the series, Boston, with the help of a speech by Chris Sale, responded with vengeance.  First basemen Mitch Moreland hit a 3-run homer in the 7th, making the game 4-3.  One inning later, first basemen Steve Pearce hit a home run, tying the game.

As this fan mentally prepared for extra innings, in the 9th, Boston took the game.  With a single by pinch hitter Rafael Devers, Boston took a 5-4.  Moments later, Steve Pearce hit a double with the bases loaded, scoring 3 runs in the process.  One more RBI from Bogaerts, and the game went the way of Boston.

A weaker team would not have rallied after going down 4-0, especially after Game 3, but Boston is not weak.  Boston did what they had done all season: fought back, winning the game by a final score of 9-6.

In Game 5, David Price and Steve Pearce came to finish the job.  Minus a first inning blunder, David Price pitched 7 strong innings, making it into the 8th before walking a batter; when he was taken out, this fan gave him a standing ovation.  In total, Price only gave up 3 hits and that one run.  David, I am sorry for all the crap I gave you, you came in and shut me up when it mattered most.  You deserve this win more than anyone.

Scoring 5 runs in the game, the majority were due to Pearce.  The World Series MVP hit two dingers, making it 3 in two nights, putting up an extremely clutch series the last two games.  After a long career, Pearce, who (according to Joe Buck) played for every team in the AL East, joined his hometown team via trade just this season, and won a championship.  I am so happy for him.

The game was closed by ace Chris Sale.  Coming into the game via relief (just like the 8th inning of Game 4 of the ALDS), Sale did his job, and capped off a remarkable season.

For the 4th time in 15 seasons, the Boston Red Sox are World Series champions!

Final Thoughts

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros - Game Five
Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America

This postseason was a joy to watch.  Honestly, I had my doubts.  The bullpen scared me, Sale had not pitched much the final 2 months of the season after that injury, and Price gave you no reason to trust him.

But I was wrong, oh so wrong.

Even if Sale was not dominant, he did not need to be.  When you win 108 games, EVERYONE is dominant.

The bullpen did a complete 180.  Joe Kelly became a force to be reckoned with throughout the postseason.  Ryan Brasier (who was pitching in Japan in 2017) was solid.  Matt Barnes did his job.  Every starter made at least one bullpen appearance, and each one did great in their cameos.  Kimbrell had shaky outings, but never lost Boston a game (the most amazing stat of all).  It was fair to doubt that bullpen after this season, but they shut us all up, and did their jobs.

David Price.  Once again, he did his job.  His last 3 starts in the postseason led to wins for Boston, and he erased a lot of bad will garnered towards him.  The territory in Boston is immense, and Price had extremely high expectations.  Although he incited the hounds at times, Price received so much hate, more than any of us will ever comprehend.  He could have shut down this postseason, opted out for the sake of his sanity, and just moved on.

He didn’t.

He never let his teammates down, and he started clicking when it mattered most.  He will be remembered positively in Boston sports history forever, and to me, his contract is now worth it.  Congrats David

Jackie Bradley, another player that received hate.  A great defender, Jackie’s bat was always a question mark.  People (including me) have wanted him gone, but he (common theme) shut a lot of people up (including me).  Three huge home runs this postseason won us games, and kept us afloat.  Jackie did more than most this postseason, and deserves plenty of praise for his work.  Congrats to him.

The thing that amazes me is the players that were clutch in October.  Even if we were not carried by Mookie and Sale (as we were games 1-162), this was a team effort.  Brock had good games, Jackie was clutch, Pearce was clutch, Kelly was dominant, Price was huge, Eovaldi became a folk hero, Brasier did his job… I could go on.

My grandfather put it best: they’re like the Patriots.  Even when they got punched in the mouth and looked down for the count, they got back up, fought back, and fought to win.  They play to the final bell, and never stop.

Now that is something I did not think I would type just a month ago, but… I was wrong.

And a shoutout to Alex Cora.  The man I wanted the SECOND he became available, he did everything I could have ever imagined (and more).  Cora changed the culture, and made all the right decisions.  From 93 to 108 wins, you cannot say it was just Martinez who led to more wins.  Cora fostered a different environment, and it was one that clicked with this dominant team.  He’s loved by his players, and his leadership style was reflected by the effort of his players all year; Farrell would have never managed THIS team THIS well (just too different than 2013, but John will always have that).

I said it months ago, and I will tonight: Farrell was Mark Jackson, Cora is Steve Kerr; (mostly the) same ingredients, different chef, different result.

I fell in love with this team this month (way too late), and I am jealous of the fans who knew this was coming all along.  Boston earned this, and a city known for winning gets another parade.

Congrats to the 2018 Boston Red Sox, a team that won 119 total games, and only lost 3 games in the postseason, a truly dominant effort.

Damage done.


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