World Series: the Red Sox complete their stellar season
The 2018 World Series was an unusual one. Normally, you would see an underdog against a more established power in the baseball world, but this year, nothing shocking happened in the playoffs. The best teams with the best hitters and the best pitchers made it to the Fall Classic. The Los Angeles Dodgers, just a year removed from losing the World Series to the Houston Astros, faced the Boston Red Sox, the best team in the MLB regular season who beat the Astros in five games to get to the first World Series since winning in 2013.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the Red Sox came into 2018 with one of the strongest rosters in the history of the game. The Red Sox won 108 games. The Baltimore Orioles, by comparison, the worst team in the league, won 47 games all season. Boston has a good team. The Dodgers won the NL West, winning 92 games, which is incredibly impressive, but Boston was a commanding force the entire season. They looked unbeatable. In the playoffs, they lost a total of one game in each series. Three losses in the playoffs. That’s almost Golden State Warriors levels of dominance.
And against the Dodgers, they didn’t slow down. The Sox sent out Chris Sale to pitch against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, which allowed Kershaw to become the first pitcher to pitch in two consecutive first games of the World Series. The Red Sox scored early off an Andrew Benintendi hit. Mookie Betts scored off the hit, after he stole second base. Right after, JD Martinez hit Benintendi home. The Dodgers responded with a Matt Kemp home run and a Manny Machado RBI single. Kershaw was pulled in the fifth inning, adding fuel to the whole “Kershaw falters in the postseason” narrative. The Red Sox stacked two runs on him to add to their lead in that fifth inning, then continued to score in the seventh. Final score: 8–4 Red Sox.
In Game 2, we saw a couple pitchers who weren’t as well-known as Sale and Kershaw. David Price looked to shut down Los Angeles while the Dodgers sent out Hyun-jin Ryu. The Red Sox scored first on a single by Ian Kinsler in the second inning. The Dodgers took the game back in the fourth, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp, then took the lead thanks to a Yasiel Puig single. Ryu would load the bases in the fifth, then was replaced on the mound by reliever Ryan Madson, who walked in the tying run, then gave up a two-run single to JD Martinez. Price, who like Kershaw also has had some postseason struggles, put those demons to bed, allowing only 2 runs and 3 hits in six innings. This game was also the 100th postseason victory in Red Sox history.
Game 3 is one of the most interesting games of baseball that was played all year. The starting pitchers were Walker Buehler for the Dodgers and Rick Porcello for the Red Sox. The Series shifted to Los Angeles, and the Dodgers made good use of their home field advantage, scoring first in the third inning off a Joc Pederson home run. Porcello pitched 4.2 innings, while his opponent, Buehler, pitched seven scoreless, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. In the 8th inning, though, Jackie Bradley Jr. came through for Boston with a solo home run off of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. No one scored in the ninth, and the game went to extra innings. In the thirteenth inning, Brock Holt scored the go ahead run for the Sox on an infield single by Eduardo Nunez and a throwing error by pitcher Scott Alexander. In the bottom of the inning, Max Muncy walked against Nathan Eovaldi, advanced to second on a pop out, then scored on an infield single by Puig and a throwing error by Kinsler. Eovaldi, Red Sox starter-turned-reliever, pitched six innings in relief, and in his seventh, Max Muncy hit a walk-off home run, giving the Dodgers their first win of the series. This game went seven hours and 20 minutes, and, at 18 innings, the longest World Series game in history, by both innings and time.
Game 4 saw starters Rich Hill of the Dodgers and Eduardo Rodriguez of the Red Sox face off in Los Angeles. The game was scoreless through the first five innings, but in the bottom of the sixth, the bases were loaded and the Dodgers scored four runs, the first on a throwing error by catcher Christian Vazquez, then the next three off a three run home run by Puig. In the top of the seventh, Boston made it a one-run game off Mitch Moreland three run home run, then Steve Pearce tied it up with a home run off Jansen in the eighth inning. After that, the Red Sox piled on. In the top of the ninth, Boston scored five runs, taking a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth. The Dodgers didn’t go quietly, as Kike Hernandez hit a two-run homer off of Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel, however, recovered and got the last three outs to win the game and make the series 3–1 in Boston’s favor.
Game 5 stayed in Los Angeles. Price and Kershaw got the starts. Both teams scored in the first inning. Boston scored, thanks to a two-run home run by Pearce. David Freese got one back for the Dodgers with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. Nobody else scored until the sixth inning, when Betts hit a home run, followed up by a Martinez home run in the seventh to make it 4–1. Kershaw went seven innings, giving up all four runs. In the eighth, Pearce hit his second home run of the night, off Pedro Baez. Price pitched well, allowing only one run over seven plus innings of relief. Joe Kelly and Sale came in to finish the game, Kelly taking the 8th and Sale taking the ninth, each striking out the side to finish the game.
Journeyman Pearce ended up with the Most Valuable Player award for the World Series, and the Dodgers went home empty handed for the second straight year. This wasn’t going to be anyone else’s year but the Red Sox. They were a powerhouse all season long. They earned it.