LOS ANGELES — They don’t really lose much, do they?
Through one lens, everything about the 2018 season — the winningest in Red Sox history — hinged on one lefty. David Price bent narratives, dominated doubts and Dodgers.
Price was the largest bet for ownership and management when Dave Dombrowski took over three years ago, the highest paid pitcher in major league history. His arm became a question, his attitude too. All are gone now, vanquished like every test, trial and opponent both he and the Red Sox had along the way.
The Sox finished what they started at full speed on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium, capturing their ninth World Series title with a 5-1 victory — the team's first championship since 2013. Price allowed one run on three hits in seven-plus innings, striking out five and walking two. Joe Kelly finished off the eighth, embracing Price as he got to the dugout, and Chris Sale was given the ball for the ninth.
The final out, recorded at 8:17 p.m. PDT, was a strikeout of Manny Machado — the Dodgers player that made few friends on the Red Sox in recent years.
The series was better contested than its final tally, four games to one in the Sox’ favor, would show. But the Sox led three batters into Sunday’s game, when Steve Pearce hit a two-run homer, the first of two long balls he delivered on the night and four overall for the Sox.
Price already this October out-dueled Justin Verlander to send the Red Sox to the World Series. On Sunday night, he took down another Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw. Both outings for Price were on short rest. He’s just the eighth pitcher in history to take the win in both the LCS and World Series clincher, per Baseball-Reference.com.
The Red Sox went 11-3 in the postseason, allowing their opponent just one win in each respective round. The 2004 and 2007 Red Sox also went 11-3. The franchise is 16-3 in World Series games this century, dating to Game 1 of the 2004 Fall Classic.
There were 54,367 tickets sold to the final game of the 2018 season. The Dodgers fell in the World Series for a second straight season.
Alex Cora’s magic — “Coralytics,” as his agent Scott Boras dubbed them — never wore off. He pushed back Chris Sale to Game 6, and Price delivered, just the latest in a string of moves that paid off. The first Puerto Rico-born manager to win a World Series, Cora is now a two-time defending champion, counting the ring he won as a bench coach in Houston as well.
1. Steve Pearce made his own Boston legend. David Price and Pearce both have cases for MVP, which will be named shortly after these words are published. Price may well take it following such a dominant outing, and his position as an established star can’t hurt him. But like fellow midseason acquisition Nate Eovaldi — who was warming up for the ninth inning — Pearce was tremendous. He hit three homers in the series. All four of his hits (.333, 4-for-12) were for extra bases. He never struck out. He walked four times. He drove in eight runs. The Red Sox were built on stars, but needed so many to get to this point.
2. Did David Price have it in him all along, or did his ability to handle the postseason and the big spot change? That’s the only debate left now about what he can or can’t do on the mound, and the former is the likeliest scenario. A pitcher who learned his changeup from Big Game James Shields could steal his mentor’s name after Sunday’s performance, a most fitting capper to Price’s third year in Boston. The highest paid pitcher in baseball history was squaring off against the second highest paid pitcher, and Price no longer has to worry about questions of his salary, his ability to handle Boston or the spotlight. A pitcher that has seen his pitching and actions dissected every which way came out on top. (Hey, we told you he might just be perfect for this town.)
3. At last, they arrived. The two biggest bats in the regular season, J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, did not dominate in these playoffs, but they both homered in the clincher. In his 21st career game in the postseason, Betts hit his first career playoff home run, a solo shot to left field in the sixth inning that grew the lead to 3-1. Martinez hit his own solo shot in the seventh. What a perfect time for Betts to find his stroke. Cora, unsuprisingly, properly called it before the game. The manager volunteered the prediction about Betts, in fact, when responding to a general question about Sunday night. “I’ve got a feeling that the leadoff guy is going to have one of those games that he takes over,” Cora said. “He’s due.” Cora said he hadn’t talked to Betts about his swing lately. “A lot of people have been talking to him. That’s why sometimes I just stay away from it. He knows how I feel about him and he knows that he's the best player in the game. So just breathe, relax, and have fun tonight.” Cora wasn’t the only one that called it. Alex Bregman said as much Saturday night on Twitter, too. “Gonna be tough to close it out tomorrow.... but i got Mookie having a big day and the Sox winning a close one.”
Gonna be tough to close it out tomorrow.... but i got Mookie having a big day and the Sox winning a close one.— Alex Bregman (@ABREG_1) October 28, 2018
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