Red Sox

Steve Pearce, David Price, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts lead Boston Red Sox to World Series championship

Steve Pearce, David Price, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts lead Boston Red Sox to World Series championship

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.” 

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Check out the Red Sox's luxurious plane for London trip

Check out the Red Sox's luxurious plane for London trip

The Red Sox are flying in style on their trip to England.

As they departed Boston to meet the Yankees in London for a two-game series between the archrivals, slugger J.D. Martinez showed off the inside of the team plane via his Instagram story.

Here's another look, courtesy of Darren Rovell of The Action Network:

It turns out being a professional athlete has its perks.

The Red Sox will have a much-needed off day on Thursday, then it'll be Rick Porcello taking the hill in the first game of the series Friday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start in Saturday's matchup at 10:10 a.m. ET.

The Yankees will be without slugger Giancarlo Stanton for the series, as he has been placed on the injured list with a strained posterior collateral ligament in his right knee.

Check out the unique field setup for the London Series here >>

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Matt Barnes, Red Sox bullpen finally crumbling under weight of overuse and it's time for Dave Dombrowski to do something

Matt Barnes, Red Sox bullpen finally crumbling under weight of overuse and it's time for Dave Dombrowski to do something

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are torching Matt Barnes and the rest of their bullpen and if Dave Dombrowski doesn't act soon, he's going to find himself a heck of a lot more than one reliever short.

That's certainly the feel emanating from a ragged Red Sox relief corps that blew yet another save -- its league-leading 16th -- in a demoralizing 8-7 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday. Barnes took the loss after ending a marathon 10-pitch at-bat by leaving a fastball in Jose Abreu's wheelhouse, and the White Sox slugger didn't miss, blasting it over everything in left for the game-winning two-run homer.

Attention will undoubtedly focus on Barnes blowing his sixth save of the season and the Red Sox losing their eighth game with a lead after seven innings, but at some point, the workload should enter the equation.

Right-hander Brandon Workman leads the American League in appearances with 40, and Barnes and teammate Ryan Brasier are both right behind him in the top 10 at 36 apiece. That kind of wear and tear is taking a toll, particularly on Barnes, who has seen his ERA skyrocket from 1.99 on June 1 to 4.19 today. The 14 appearances he has made this month probably aren't helping.

"No, I feel good," Barnes said, though not necessarily convincingly.

Barnes lost the game when he failed to elevate the 10th and final pitch of his battle with Abreu, leaving a 97 mph fastball at the belt, where Abreu pulverized it. He was asked how much this one stings, particularly in light of the three-run rally that had given the Red Sox a 7-6 lead in the eighth.

"A lot. A lot," he said. "I didn't do my job. Offense did a phenomenal job of coming back and scoring three in the eighth, and then to give it up like that is tough."

Such losses are starting to feel inevitable, as the bullpen sags under the dual strain of (a) needing to pick up an average of six innings every time the fifth spot in the rotation rolls around, and (b) lacking a closer to handle the ninth inning and provide some definition to the final frames. The return of knuckleballer Steven Wright adds an experienced arm, but the Red Sox need more than say, Heath Hembree coming off the IL to save them.

"I know the usage is there," allowed manager Alex Cora, "but everyone has been used a lot. We've just got to get the job done."

Finding rest has been a balancing act. Workman (7-1, 1.70 ERA, three saves) was not available on Wednesday because of his workload, but he probably would've been pressed into duty if the Red Sox had extended the game.

"We try to take care of everyone," pitching coach Dana LeVangie said. "We're in a situation trying to win baseball games, trying to protect guys. We went into the first game of the series against these guys with Barnsey down. We have a plan for the most part going in. At times, we have to erase that based on what happens with the starter or whatever.

"At times, you can win or lose a game at the risk of losing a guy for two or three weeks, a month, because of it. I think we're trying to do this better, as much as we can."

Without reinforcements, it's hard to imagine the situation improving.

"Fatigued? Sure. All of the above," LeVangie said. "That's where a lot of those guys are. That's where we're at. That's part of being a reliever. Unfortunately, that's part of being their job. We've got a couple of days rest here leading into the London series, we've got one leading into the Toronto series. Hopefully, we can catch our breath."

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