2018 World Series
|2018 World Series|
|Boston Red Sox
108 - 54 in the AL
|4 - 1
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
92 - 71 in the NL
The 2018 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, coming off the best season in team history, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had been pre-season favorites to defend their National League pennant, but had taken a difficult route to get there, marred by injuries, slumps and unexpectedly strong opposition. While there was a big difference in the two teams' win totals in the regular season, by the time the World Series opened, this had been pretty much negated, given the Dodgers had gotten back all of their key injured, players, and had replaced those who were still out - like SS Corey Seager - with top-shelf veterans. It was the second postseason match-up between the two teams, although the first had taken place way back in the 1916 World Series when the Dodgers were still the Brooklyn Robins. With the two teams having huge fan bases and being big draws on television, it was a highly anticipated match-up.
The series was utterly dominated by the Red Sox, who won it in five games, and even their only loss required 18 innings, the longest game in World Series history. Boston's pitchers were dominant, as manager Alex Cora's use of his starters in key relief roles proved to be very effective. Even though Boston's two big hitters, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, were shut down until they both homered in the final game, others picked up the slack, most notable the first base tandem of Steve Pearce and Mitch Moreland, with Pearce winning the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. It was the fourth championship for Boston since breaking its seven-decade drought in 2004, while the Dodgers came up short for the second straight year.
The Boston Red Sox were coming off the best season in franchise history, with 108 wins during the regular season, and were back in the World Series for the first time since winning it in 2013. They had also breezed through the first two rounds of the postseason, eliminating two 100-win teams in the New York Yankees and Houston Astros i the process, a marked contrast to their predecessors the previous two seasons who had both made quick exits at the Division Series stage. Under first-year skipper Alex Cora, they had built on the core of the two division-winning teams, built on pitching, defence and high batting averages, by adding the power of DH J.D. Martinez, who had transformed the line-up by adding a power threat in the middle of the batting order, connecting for 43 homers and driving in 130 runs. For all that, Martinez was not even the best player on the team, a distinction held by RF Mookie Betts, who had hit .346, scored 129 runs, and connected for 32 homers. Betts was also part of the best defensive outfield in the majors, alongside CF Jackie Bradley and LF Andrew Benintendi, who had also contributed 103 runs, 87 RBIs and a .290 average as the number 2 hitter. SS Xander Bogaerts (.288, 23, 103) was another dangerous hitter, as was the 1B platoon of Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce, who had combined for 22 homers and 94 RBIs. On the flip side, though, C Sandy Leon had hit just .177 - albeit with outstanding defence; 21-year-old 3B Rafael Devers had hit just .240, but with 21 homers, and had been excellent in the ALCS; and 2B had been a problem spot all season as Dustin Pedroia had been limited to just 3 games and was unavailable. There were some good options on the bench, with whoever was not starting at 2B or 3B among Devers, Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt and Ian Kinsler available to pinch hit, as was whoever made up the other half of the first base platoon that day.
On the mound, the Red Sox had some excellent starting pitchers and a world-class closer, but question marks in between. Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello formed a very solid quartet of starters, especially since Price seemed to have taken the postseason monkey off his back in the previous round with an outstanding performance in Game 5 of the ALCS. Craig Kimbrel had struggled in his first few postseason outings, but after being told he was tipping off his pitches, he seemed to have righted things, making him once again one of the most dominant closers in the game. But middle relievers had been a concern, to the point that Cora had used Porcello twice, Sale once and Eovaldi once as set-up men for Kimbrel in the first two rounds. Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes had done alright, but were liable to lose home plate from time to time, a dangerous tendency against a power-hitting team like the Dodgers. As a last-minute roster change, the Red Sox added lefty Drew Pomeranz as an extra lefthander in the bullpen, taking the place of Brandon Workman, when it became obvious that their first choice for the final spot on the staff, knuckleballer Steven Wright, was not recovered from a knee ailment.
The Dodgers may have won "only" 92 games during the season, but that did not reflect how solid a team they were. They were, after all, the defending National League champions and had taken the 2017 World Series to a Game 7 before losing to the Houston Astros. Their season had been anything but easy, with injuries that had cost them their regular shortstop, Corey Seager, after just one month, and which had put their entire starting rotation and most of their bullpen on the disabled list at one point or another during the season. Everyone was now healthy, apart from Seager, but he had been replaced by mid-season acquisition Manny Machado, who was now the clean-up hitter after combing for 37 homers and 107 RBIs. The other offensive leader was 3B Justin Turner (.312, 14, 52) in a season abbreviated by injuries. But the team's main characteristic was how manager Dave Roberts would shuffle his players in and out of the line-up and at various positions between games and even during games. Having versatile players like IF-OF Kiké Hernandez, 1B-3B-2B Max Muncy, SS-OF Chris Turner, 1B-3B David Freese and C-2B Austin Barnes, and a bevy of outfielders able to play at all three spots allowed him full creativity in devising his line-up and then adjusting it as the game moved forward. The Dodgers had set a team record with 235 homers during the season, with Cinderella-story Muncy hitting 35 and six different players hitting between 21 and 25, not counting Machado, so a blast could come from any spot in the line-up. There were some defensive concerns, though, with C Yasmani Grandal coming off an execrable defensive performance in the NLCS, Machado often being nonchalant at short, and OFs Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Hernandez and Taylor being athletic, but not always taking the best routes to get to tough fly balls.
On the mound, the Dodgers had a surfeit of starting pitchers, but only a few top-notch relievers. Roberts had settled on a rotation of ace Clayton Kershaw, pitching as well as ever, veterans Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill, and rookie Walker Buehler, pushing starters such as Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood to the bullpen, where their efficiency as short relievers still needed to be proven. Set-up man Pedro Baez and closer Kenley Jansen had both pitched well of late, but Jansen had failed a couple of times at key junctures in last year's series, and the rest of the bullpen, featuring the likes of veteran Ryan Madson, youngster Julio Urias, lefty specialist Scott Alexander and journeyman Dylan Floro was a possible area of vulnerability. But contrary to the recent trend of "bullpenning" games, used most visibly by the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS, the Dodgers were expecting outings of five or six innings from their starters. Roberts had tried to shorten these the previous year and had been burned, tiring his bullpen needlessly, and it was unlikely that he would repeat that mistake again. But then again, in the World Series, strange things were known to happen.
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers 4 Boston Red Sox 8||October 23||Clayton Kershaw (0-1) Chris Sale (0-0)||8:09 pm|
|2||Los Angeles Dodgers 2 Boston Red Sox 4||October 24||Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1) David Price (1-0)||8:09 pm|
|3||Boston Red Sox 2 Los Angeles Dodgers 3||October 26||Rick Porcello (0-0) Walker Buehler (0-0)||8:09 pm|
|4||Boston Red Sox 9 Los Angeles Dodgers 6||October 27||Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0) Rich Hill (0-0)||8:09 pm|
|5||Boston Red Sox 5 Los Angeles Dodgers 1||October 28||David Price (2-0) Clayton Kershaw (0-2)||8:15 pm|
Game 1 @ Fenway Park
|WP: Matt Barnes (1-0); LP: Clayton Kershaw (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Matt Kemp (1); BOS - Eduardo Nunez (1)|
- Attendance: 38,454
Game 1 was played on a cool night at Fenway Park and featured two of the best pitchers in the game on the mound in Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Chris Sale for the Red Sox. Against a lefthander, Dave Roberts had loaded his line-up with right-handed bats, starting with leadoff hitter Brian Dozier at 2B and Matt Kemp as the DH. Red Sox all-time great Carl Yastrzemski threw the ceremonial first pitch. But what should have been a pitchers' duel on paper turned out to be something completely different, as both teams scored repeatedly in the early innings and the two starters failed to make it through five innings. Then the Red Sox began to pull away with a pair of runs in the 5th and eventually won the game, 8-4.
Sale breezed through the top of the 1st, but it was not the case for Kershaw. The first batter for the Red Sox, Mookie Betts, hit a high foul ball near the right field line that seemed destined to land in 1B David Freese's glove, but he misjudged it and it fell untouched four feet away from him, giving Betts a reprieve. He did not waste his chance, singling to center, and then stole second base. Andrew Benintendi followed with another single, scoring Betts, and took second as RF Yasiel Puig missed the cut-off man. Benintendi then scored on a one-out single by J.D. Martinez and Boston had a quick 2-0 lead. But the Dodgers replied immediately, as Kemp homered on top of the Green Monster in left with one out and Sale needed a lot of pitches to get out of the inning. Kershaw then allowed a couple of baserunners in the bottom of the 2nd, but got out of trouble when SS Manny Machado fielded a sharply-hit ground ball by Jackie Bradley and started an inning-ending double play.
Los Angeles tied the score at 2-2 in the 3rd when Justin Turner hit a single with one out, moved to second on another single by Freese and scored on a third single, this one by Machado. Sale was really laboring at that point, but so was Kershaw, as he gave up a one-out single to Benintendi, one of four hits on the night for the left-fielder. Steve Pearce followed by apparently hitting into a double play that would have ended the inning, but the Red Sox challenged the call at first base and it was overturned following a video review. That proved costly, as the next batter, Martinez, drove a pitch over CF Kiké Hernandez's head into the deepest reaches of center field for a run-scoring double. Martinez would have made it to third base, but he stumbled rounding second and had to stay put. The 3-2 lead held for the next inning as Sale had his only 1-2-3 frame of the night in the top of the 4th and Kershaw did the same. However, both hurlers' pitch counts were pretty high and neither would manage to get out of the 5th.
In the top of the 5th, Dozier drew a lead-off walk, which prompted Alex Cora to call on Matt Barnes to take over on the mound. He allowed a single to Turner, but then struck out Freese as Roberts decided not to use a pinch-hitter, and after a wild pitch advanced both runners, Machado drove in his second run of the evening with a ground out. The score was tied again, at 3-3, but not for long. Betts led off the bottom of the 5th with a walk and Benintendi singled, and it was now Roberts's turn to pull his starter, bringing in veteran reliever Ryan Madson in a tough situation. He compounded the problem by throwing a wild pitch, then walked Pearce on four pitches. However, he turned around to strike out Martinez on three fastballs, but Xander Bogaerts hit a ball to shortstop and while the Dodgers managed to force out Pearce at second, Bogaerts beat out the throw at first as a run scored. Rafael Devers followed with a single, and it was now 5-3. Joe Kelly was the next reliever called in, and he had a great 6th inning, retiring the Dodgers in order, something which young Julio Urias imitated for the Dodgers.
Thus, heading into the 7th, the score was still 5-3 for Boston. Ryan Brasier replaced Kelly, but he gave up back-to-back singles to Max Muncy and Turner with one out and then walked pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal. Machado drove in his third run of the evening with a sacrifice fly, forcing Cora to bring in Eduardo Rodriguez to face Cody Bellinger. He got him to fly out to center to end the inning, but it was now 5-4. Boston gave itself a cushion in the bottom of the inning, however. Benintendi hit a lead-off double against Urias, and Pedro Baez came in to pitch. He struck out pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland, then gave up an intentional walk to Martinez to face Bogaerts, whom he struck out. Lefty Alex Wood then came in to face Devers, and Cora repled by sending in Eduardo Nunez to pinch-hit. Nunez got the hit that broke the Dodgers' backs when he homered to left for a three-run shot. It was now 8-4 and the game was pretty much over. In a move already used many times by Cora this postseason, Nathan Eovaldi came in to pitch th 8th, and he got three quick outs, setting the table for Craig Kimbrel. The closer breezed through the 9th, striking out Turner on a full count to end the game.
Game 2 @ Fenway Park
|WP: David Price (1-0); LP: Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1); SV: Craig Kimbrel (1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: 38,644
It was another cool night at Fenway Park for Game 2, and the Red Sox took the opportunity to commemorate their historic win in the 2004 World Series by having seven members of that team jointly throw the ceremonial first pitch. They probably communicated their good vibes to the team, as the Sox played an excellent game, limiting the Dodgers to just three hits and taking advantage of their own rare scoring opportunities to win, 4-2, taking a two games to none lead before heading to the West Coast. Two more lefthanders were on the mound in this game, veterans both in Hyun-Jin Ryu and David Price. Price had come into this postseason with a reputation of not being up to scratch in postseason starts, but he had performed well in his two outings in the ALCS, and today's game would confirm that whatever problem had plagued him in previous year was now behind him. For the second straight game, the Dodgers fielded a line-up composed entirely of righthanded hitters, while for the Red Sox the only change from Game 1 was Christian Vazquez starting at catcher in place of Sandy Leon.
Both pitchers started off well, with an impressive 1st inning, and in Price's case this was followed with a perfect 2nd inning as well. However, Ryu allowed a run in the bottom of that inning when he allowed a one-out double to Xander Bogaerts and then a two-out single to Ian Kinsler, the Red Sox continuing their trend of being extremely productive with two outs and runners in scoring position, a big factor in their success thus far this postseason. There was little more action until the top of the 4th, when the Dodgers finally put a chink in Price's armor. This came in the form of back-to-back singles by David Freese and Manny Machado to open the inning, followed by a walk to Chris Taylor that featured a number of close pitches. Matt Kemp followed with a fly ball to center that allowed Freese to score the tying run, then after Kiké Hernandez struck out, Yasiel Puig singled to center to make it 2-1. Price struck out Austin Barnes to end the inning, and while that was a very tough inning for him, he bounced back and shut down the Dodgers completely over the next two innings. That stretch included a spectacular catch in left field by Andrew Benintendi, who robbed Brian Dozier of a double with a leaping grab to start off the 5th inning.
For his part, Ryu was cruising after his 2nd-inning hiccup, with a perfect 4th inning and two quick outs to start off the 5th. Then the bottom fell out suddenly. It seemed innocent enough at first as Vazquez singled to center, but Mookie Betts then followed with another single. Next was a drawn-out at-bat with Benintendi that lasted six minutes and precipitated three separate mound visits. It was clear to everyone in the ballpark that this was one of the key moments in the game, and it ended with Benintendi drawing a walk to load the bases. That marked the end for Ryu, who was replaced by Ryan Madson. However, Madson clearly did not have it that evening. He walked Steve Pearce on five pitches, with the first baseman not bothering to swing the bat once as even the one called strike on him was seemingly not in the strike zone, in spite of umpire Kerwin Danley's call. That forced in a run and tied the score at 2. But Dave Roberts had no one else warming up, so Madson got to face J.D. Martinez, the major league RBI leader, and he got burned when he finally put a pitch in the strike zone, with Martinez lining a hard single to right field that scored two more runs. Madson struck out Bogaerts to end the inning, but the damage had been done. Boston's 4-2 lead would last until the end of the game.
Price came back to pitch another perfect inning in the 6th, departing after six innings of allowing just 3 hits - all singles in the 4th. Julio Urias pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 6th for Los Angeles, then Joe Kelly, seemingly oblivious to the cold in his short sleeves, repeated his excellent outing from the night before with a perfect 7th as Roberts began to pinch-hit aggressively with the lefthanded hitters on his bench. Roberts used two pitchers to get through the 7th, Kenta Maeda and Scott Alexander, a double by Betts having complicated things, then in the 8th Nathan Eovaldi came out to be the set-up man for the second straight day. He delivered another perfect outing, and Pedro Baez continued his postseason domination by mowing down the Red Sox in the bottom of the 8th, leading to more second-guessing of why Roberts had lifted him in the 7th inning of Game 1 in order to get a seemingly more favorable match-up, which turned out to be fool's gold. Anyway, Craig Kimbrel came out for the 9th and he was the Kimbrel of old, nearly unhittable as he disposed of the Dodgers on 9 pitches, 7 of them strikes. The Red Sox now had a commanding lead.
Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Alex Wood (1-0); LP: Nathan Eovaldi (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Joc Pederson (1), Max Muncy (1); BOS - Jackie Bradley (1)|
- Attendance: 53,114
With their backs against the wall the Dodgers absolutely had to win Game 3, and it turned out to be a record-setting game as it was not decided until 7 hours and 20 minutes had elapsed. The game time was longer than the entire combined game time of the 1939 World Series. The Dodgers did come out on top, 3-2, thanks to a lead-off, walk-off homer by Max Muncy off Nathan Eovaldi in the bottom of the 18th inning. It was the most innings played in a World Series game, the longest game time in postseason history, and the 46 players 18 pitchers used by both teams both set another postseason record. The 34 combined strikeouts and 10 by Red Sox batters were yet another record. There were all sorts of other statistical oddities in the game, such as Boston's first four hitters combining to go 0 for 28! The game started innocently enough, however, as a pitchers' duel between Rick Porcello and rookie Walker Buehler. With righthanders on the mound, the Dodgers put some of their lefthanded hitters back in their starting line-up, with Joc Pederson leading off, Max Muncy at first base, Cody Bellinger in CF, Yasmani Grandal at catcher and Chris Taylor at 2B. For Boston, the big decision for Alex Cora was what to do with DH J.D. Martinez. He decided to have him play left field in place of Andrew Benintendi, who was benched in spite of his excellent production on both sides of the ball so far in the postseason.
Both pitchers were dealing in the early inning. For Rick Porcello, he went through the first nine batters of the order by giving up just a walk to Muncy with two outs in the 1st. Then on his first pitch to Pederson in his second time through, he allowed a homer to right field that made the score 1-0. Justin Turner followed with a double, but Muncy flied out to end the inning. Porcello then went back to mowing down batters with a perfect 4th. In the 5th, he allowed a lead-off single to Grandal but retired the next two batters, including Buehler who was unable to lay down a bunt and struck out. With Pederson due up again, Cora pulled out his starter and asked lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to face Pederson; he struck him out swinging. For his part, Buehler was even better. While he needed a lot of pitches to get through the first two innings, as the Red Sox's batters were very patient, he still retired all six batters in order, then became more efficient after that. In the 3rd, Jackie Bradley led off with a single, but on the next pitch, he took off for second base too early and Buehler was able to step off the mound, throw to first base, and Muncy's throw nailed him at second base. That was important as Christian Vazquez followed with a single. Porcello bunted him over to second, but Mookie Betts flied out to center to end the frame. That was the only chance the Red Sox had against the young fireballer, as he breezed through innings 4 to 6 by retiring all nine batters in order. In fact, he was going so well that manager Dave Roberts let him pitch the 7th as well, and he made it 13 straight outs as he was perfect again. Meanwhile, Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier had each pitched a scoreless inning, so after seven frames, the Dodgers were still holding on to their small 1-0 lead.
Heading into the top of the 8th, Roberts decided to dispense with a set-up man and go directly to closer Kenley Jansen, who was well-rested after not being used in the first two games. He got two quick outs, but Boston's recent man of the moment, Bradley, turned the game around by connecting on a 2-0 pitch for a homer to right, tying the score at 1. After that, the teams went back to putting up zeros for a long spell, but it was now relievers doing it on both sides. Matt Barnes pitched the bottom of the 8th for the Red Sox, Jansen worked a second inning in the top of the 9th, then Game 2 starter David Price started the 9th. Bellinger led off with a single, but after one out, he was picked off first base and erased in a rundown that went 1-3-6-1-4. But Price then walked Grandal and Cora asked closer Craig Kimbrel to come out. He walked Taylor as well, but Brian Dozier, pinch-hitting for Jansen, popped out to end the inning. The game moved into extra innings, but there was still no scoring. Pedro Baez came out to pitch the 10th and walked Martinez, who was replaced by a pinch-runner, Ian Kinsler. He was almost picked off first base, but then moved to third on single by Brock Holt. Eduardo Nunez now came out to pinch-hit for Rafael Devers, but he flied out to center and Bellinger was able to throw out Holt who attempted to score after the catch, ending the inning. Muncy hit a two-out double off Kimbrel in the bottom of the 10th, but L.A. could do no further damage. In the 11th, Baez walked Steve Pearce, who pinch-hit for Kimbrel with two outs, but that was it. Heath Hembree also issued a two-out walk in the bottom of the 11th, but also without damage.
It was now the 12th inning, with the score still 1-1 and next to come to the mound for the Dodgers was Ryan Madson, but this time with no inherited runners to worry about. He faced just one batter, Xander Bogaerts, whom he retired, then gave way to Scott Alexander, who retired the next two batters. Boston, however, had already used most of its short relievers, so Cora went another tack, bringing in Nathan Eovaldi, who was penciled in as the Game 4 starter. Eovaldi started a tremendous outing which would bring him praise from everyone who witnessed it; unfortunately, it would end in defeat, but not before he was working on his 7th inning. The 12th inning was typical of his work that night, ending in three quick outs. In the 13th, Boston finally broke the deadlock. It started by Alexander walking Holt and then stealing second base when C Austin Barnes crashed into batter Nunez trying to field the pitch which had bounced away from him. Nunez hurt his ankle on the play but had to remain in the game, as the Red Sox were now out of substitute position players and the defence had become makeshift, with Holt in the outfield and C Vazquez having moved to first base. Nunez hit a tapper back toward first and both Anderson and Muncy converged on the ball, leaving first base uncovered. Anderson relayed the ball to 2B Enrique Hernandez, who tried to rush to the empty base, but the throw was wild and Holt came in to score. After two outs, Sandy Leon doubled off Dylan Floro and the gimpy Nunez had to stop at third base. Floro then issued an intentional walk to Betts, facing Bogaerts with the bases loaded. However, Bogaerts was only able to tap a ball just in front of home plate, and Barnes threw him out at first base. Muncy drew a lead-off walk against Eovaldi to lead off the bottom of the inning, however, and when Bellinger popped out near the third base stands, Nunez caught the ball for the second out, but fell into the stands, allowing Muncy to advance to second. L.A.'s last chance was Yasiel Puig. He hit a ball to Kinsler at second, but his throw to first was wild, allowing Muncy to score on the error.
The 2-2 score also stood for a long time. The 14th inning did not result in any runs, and neither did the 15th, with Kenta Maeda having now replaced Floro on the mound. That inning featured another scoring chance as Nunez led off with a single, then advanced to second on a walk to Bradley. But Christian Vazquez was unable to lay down a good bunt, and it resulted in Nunez being forced out at third, after which Maeda struck out Leon and Betts to end the threat. There were no such theatrics for Eovaldi though, as he mowed the Dodgers in the bottom of the inning and again in the 16th. But then, Maeda had struck out the side in the top of the 16th. In the 17th, Julio Urias came in to pitch and he delivered another goose egg in spite of a walk to Bradley with two outs. But the Dodgers could not touch Eovaldi again in the bottom of the inning, with P Clayton Kershaw pinch-hitting in vain for Urias. The Dodgers needed another pitcher, and it was Alex Wood who came out for the 18th, as both teams were running out of players. Wood started off by walking Leon, then Betts hit into a force out and Bogaerts into a double play. Eovaldi was now valiantly starting his 7th inning on the mound, but Muncy, who was playing second base by now, ended the game after seven hours and twenty minutes when he homered to left center. He had earlier, in the 15th, wrapped a ball just inches foul by the right field foul pole. Both teams were completely exhausted by that point, but Los Angeles had managed to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole that would have practically ended their hopes. Now, trailing two games to one, they still had a shot.
Game 4 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Joe Kelly (1-0); LP: Dylan Floro (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Yasiel Puig (1), Kiké Hernandez (1); BOS - Mitch Moreland (1), Steve Pearce (1)|
- Attendance: 54,400
Both teams were obviously tired heading into Game 4, which featured a well-rested Rich Hill pitching for the Dodgers, and a much-less rested Eduardo Rodriguez for Boston, given he had pitched a third of an inning the previous night. The choice came between him and Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz, the only two players that had not played in the marathon Game 3, but Alex Cora decided to give his ace more rest and not to bring out Pomeranz at such a crucial time when he had not seen any action at all in the postseason. While the Red Sox had a lefty on the mound again, Dave Roberts did not use his extreme righthanded line-up this time, preferring a mixed one that included a couple of lefthanded-batters in Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy.
It was clear that the two starters would need to pitch as deep as possible into the game, as both bullpens had been asked to do a lot the previous night. And facing tired hitters, they both did just that, as no baserunner made it past first base through the first five innings. Both pitchers gave up a two-out walk in the 1st, Hill allowed another one in the 2nd, and Rodriguez gave up the first hit of the game, a single by Chris Taylor, with two outs in the bottom of the 2nd. In the 3rd, Hill made a rare mistake when he plunked Rodriguez to lead off the inning, but it didn't cost him as Mookie Betts hit a ball down the third base line that would have been an infield hit under normal circumstances, but with Rodriguez running - or more accurately slowly ambling towards the general direction of second base - 3B Justin Turner was able to force him out and Hill retired the next two batters. In the 4th, Turner led off with a single but could not advance any further and in the 5th Christian Vazquez singled with one out but Rodriguez was not able to lay down a bunt against Hill's nasty curveballs and struck out.
Hill was perfect again in the top of the 6th, but Rodriguez started off the bottom of the frame by hitting David Freese with a pitch. He was replaced by pinch-runner Kiké Hernandez and after Muncy struck out, Turner hit a double down the left field line, placing runners on second and third. Rodriguez issued an intentional walk to load the bases and then almost got out of the jam when he forced Bellinger to hit a grounder to Steve Pearce at first base. Pearce threw home to force Hernandez, but in trying to turn the double play, C Vazquez threw wildly back to first, allowing Turner to score the first run. It looked like that was it for Rodriguez at that point but Cora let him face Yasiel Puig, a decision which Cora said after the game had been a mistake. Puig crushed one of Rodriguez's pitches into the stands for a three-run homer. The Dodgers now had a 4-0 lead, and it looked like they were about to tie the series, as they had never squandered such a large lead all season. Matt Barnes got the last out of the inning, then Hill came out again for the 7th, although he too was nearing the end of the line. He walked Xander Bogaerts on a full count, but then struck out Eduardo Nunez on three straight pitches, his stuff seemingly as good as ever. With lefthander Brock Holt due up, Roberts decided to make a change, though, replacing the lefty Hill with his LOOGY, Scott Anderson. The move did not work, as Holt walked on four pitches. So out went Anderson and in came Ryan Madson. Given that Madson had allowed all five inherited runners he had seen in the series so far to score, the decision was a bit puzzling, but he did strike out pinch-hitter Jackie Bradley for the second out. However, with the pitcher's spot due up, Cora sent another pinch-hitter, and he hit the jackpot as Mitch Moreland absolutely crushed Madson's first pitch, sending it so deep into right field that Puig did not bother to move, just holding up his hands in desperation as the ball landed around the 25th row of seats for a three-run homer. Just like that, the comfortable advantage had turned into a nail-biting 4-3 lead.
Joe Kelly,. outstanding so far in the postseason, came out to pitch the bottom of the 7th and continued his excellent work, mixing fastballs in the upper 90s with nasty breaking stuff and retired the Dodgers without damage in spite of a two-out single by Muncy. With six outs left to get and the middle of the order coming up, Roberts decided to use his closer, Kenley Jansen, as he had done without success the previous night. In his defence, his choices were limited, as set-up man Pedro Baez had had a long stint the night before, and after that his options were some of the more questionable middle relievers on his staff. Jansen got Andrew Benintendi to ground out, but Pearce lifted a ball to left center which fell in the first row of fans looking on above the fence, and the game was tied, Jansen having given up game-tying homers in back-to-back games. He retired the next two batters, but it was now a brand new game. David Price had been warming up in the buillpen for Boston, but Cora decided to send Kelly back for a second inning of work. It was a bit more laborious than the 7th, as he allowed a lead-off single to Machado, then after striking out Bellinger and getting Puig to hit into a force play, allowed another single to Taylor, with Puig advancing to third. Yasmani Grandal came out to pinch-hit for Austin Barnes, but he struck out swinging to end the threat.
In the 9th, Roberts decided to ask Dylan Floro to pitch, hoping for the best. He got Nunez to pop up for the first out, but Holt followed with a double and Rafael Devers pinch-hit for Sandy Leon. He singled to center and Holt scored the go-ahead run. Blake Swihart then batted for Kelly and grounded out for out number 2. In a strange decision, Roberts decided to issue an intentional walk to Betts in order to face Benintendi, with Alex Wood taking the mound. Benintendi hit an infield single to load the bases, bringing up Pearce who for the second straight inning played the hero as he doubled off Kenta Maeda to empty the bases and make the score 8-4. J.D. Martinez then received an intentional walk and Bogaerts followed with a single, driving in a 9th run, before Nunez flied out to end the disastrous inning. With a five-run lead, Cora asked Craig Kimbrel to record the last three outs, which he did, but not before Brian Dozier had drawn a lead-off walk and Hernandez followed with a two-run homer to make the score 9-6. Muncy grounded out, but Turner singled, putting the tying run in the on-deck circle. However, Kimbrel got a hand from his defence as on the next play, 3B Devers made a beautiful sliding stop of Machado's grounder, then got up to gun him down at first for the second out. Bellinger then flied out to left to end the game, as the Red Sox were now one win away from the big prize.
Game 5 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: David Price (2-0); LP: Clayton Kershaw (0-2)|
|Home Runs: BOS - Steve Pearce 2 (3), Mookie Betts (1), J.D. Martinez (1); LA - David Freese (1)|
- Attendance: 54,367
The Red Sox won Game 5 with another convincing performance as they limited the Dodgers to 1 run on 3 hits, taking advantage of a second outstanding start by David Price. Even though he had warmed up briefly the previous night, Price was great by muzzling the Dodgers during 7 innings, by which time his teammates had managed to build a comfortable lead by dint of the long ball. All six runs in the game were the result of homers, a fitting end to a season where the homer accounted for a higher percentage of all runs than in any previous season, and two of them were hit by 1B Steve Pearce, who, in recognition of his key contributions in the last two games, was named the winner of the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. For his part, Clayton Kershaw let the gopher ball put him in an early hole, and while he managed to keep the game close for a spell, he was ultimately defeated by more long balls.
Anyone tuning in late for this game missed most of the action, as the script was largely written by the end of the 1st inning. After Kershaw retired a slumping Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi looped a single to the opposite field and Pearce got all of a breaking ball that hung too high, sending to the seats in left for a two-run homer. That stunned the crowd and while Kershaw retired the next two batters, the Dodgers had already taken a standing eight count. However, they replied immediately, on Price's first pitch of the game, as David Freese pushed a ball to right center and into the stands to cut the lead by half. Price then walked Justin Turner and seemed to be struggling, but Kiké Hernandez, moved up to the number three slot for this game, did him a big favor by swinging at the next pitch and hitting a tailor-made double play grounder to third. Price then struck out Manny Machado on a full count, and was fully on top of things thereafter for the remainder of his long stint on the mound. The result of that eventful first inning was a 2-1 lead for Boston, and given the way things had gone in the previous four games, the Dodgers were already in trouble.
Both pitchers settled down after that nervous initial inning, but in the 3rd, what appeared to be a routine fly ball by Freese with one out disappeared in the dusky sky and fell behind RF J.D. Martinez for a triple. However, Price did not panic; he got Turner to hit a sharp grounder to SS Xander Bogaerts on the next pitch, with the infield playing in, and Freese stayed put. Hernandez then flew out to foul territory near the right field line, and this time Martinez had no trouble corralling the ball, ending the inning, which only required 9 pitches. Once again, impatience had helped out the Sox, and the Dodgers were unable to mount any kind of threat against Price after that wasted opportunity. The 4th and 5th innings passed quickly, with both pitchers on top of things, but in the top of the 6th, Betts broke an 0-for-13 slump, incidentally the longest of the season for him, with a homer to left field with one out. That was a very painful blow for the Dodgers faithful, as climbing out of a one-run deficit had been complicated enough for their team, and two runs down seemed like a huge mountain. But it got worse in the 7th as it was now Martinez who broke out of his torpor with a solo homer to lead off the frame. Down 4-1, Dave Roberts had a difficult decision to make, given his bullpen had let him down time and time again in the first four games. Kershaw had not thrown many pitches, in spite of the four runs, so he was left to pitch longer, and he almost made the hole deeper as Bogaerts followed with a single, was forced out by Brock Holt, who then advanced to second on a single by Rafael Devers. But Kershaw managed to get Christian Vazquez to strike out, and because Alex Cora did not want to take Price out of the game at this point, it left him an escape route, and he got the big pitcher to hit the ball to second base for the last out.
But Price was now pitching as well as he had ever had during his career, and he mowed down the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the 7th as well, once again needing fewer than 10 pitches to do so. It was the end of a magnificent performance, and were it not for the fact that Pearce hit his second homer of the game off Pedro Baez in the top of the 8th, he could well have been named the Series MVP instead of Pearce. Price returned to begin the 8th with a 5-1 lead, but after starting things off by walking Chris Taylor, he gave way to Joe Kelly, another of the heroes of the title's conquest. Kelly struck out three pinch-hitters in succession as Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger all went down in order. The Red Sox failed to score against Kenley Jansen in the top of the 9th and Cora then turned the ball over to his ace, Chris Sale, nominally the scheduled starter were a Game 6 to be needed. Sale made sure that theoretical possibility was erased as he struck out the side as well, all three batters going down swinging. It was a fittingly impressive display to end a magnificent collective performance by Boston's pitchers. The Red Sox had won the 9th championship in their history, and their 4th since breaking the so-called Curse of the Bambino in 2004.
The World Series was noted to be the first one to feature two minority managers: Dave Roberts is of African-American and Japanese background, while Alex Cora is Latin American. Ironically, the two played for both the Dodgers and the Red Sox during their careers, with Roberts being one of the heroes of Boston's dramatic comeback over the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and still a folk hero in Boston. Indeed the two had been teammates with the Dodgers for two and a half seasons.
In spite of featuring two of the more popular teams in the game, the series' television ratings were weak, down 25% from the previous year and 40% from the 2016 Series, making them the fourth lowest ever. There were numerous articles written during the series complaining about the drawn-out games (especially after the marathon Game 3, but not only) that never finished before midnight on the east coast. The winning players' share was $416,000, as the Red Sox voted 66 full shares and a little over 10 partial shares from the record player pool of $88.19 million. The share for members of the Dodgers was $262,027.
As was the case of other championship teams of the era, most notably the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, the question of whether the team should make the traditional visit to the White House to meet President Donald Trump quickly became shrouded in controversy, given the President's highly divisive personality. The visit was first scheduled for February 15, 2019, on the eve of spring training, but was postponed that January due to the extended shutdown of the government over the new year that made adequate planning impossible. It was rescheduled for May 9th, following a road game in nearby Baltimore, MD, but many members of the team skipped it, starting with MVP Mookie Betts, and manager Alex Cora, still seething over the inadequate response afforded to his native Puerto Rico by the Trump Administration following the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017. A number of African-American and Latino players followed in their stead, leaving only a shell of the team to make the trip to the White House. Former Red Sox great David Ortiz, for one, was squarely on the side of those who boycotted the event: "You don’t want to go and shake hands with a guy who is treating immigrants like (expletive) because I'm an immigrant." The White House did not help itself with two egregious mistakes, calling the team the "Red Socks" on its website, and labeling them the "World Cup Series Champions".
Exactly as was the case with the Houston Astros' win the previous year's World Series, the Red Sox's win would become tainted after the 2019 season as it was revealed that manager Alex Cora had implemented a sophisticated system to steal the opponents' signs, in direct contravention of orders from the Commissioner's office, as he had helped to do when working as the Astros' bench coach. These revelations cost Cora his job on January 14, 2020.
- David Adler: "5 key storylines for the 2018 World Series", mlb.com, October 21, 2018. 
- Ian Browne: "2018 champs stand out as greatest Sox team: Club went an astounding 119-57 in regular season and postseason", mlb.com, October 29, 2018. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Who has the edge? WS position by position: Red Sox, Dodgers meet in Fall Classic for first time since 1916", mlb.com, October 21, 2018. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Former teammates make history as WS skippers: 114th World Series is first to feature two minority managers", mlb.com, October 23, 2018. 
- Anthony Castrovince: "Team of this century? Sox win 4th title since '04", mlb.com, October 29, 2018. 
- Ken Gurnick: "'Battle tested' Dodgers ready for Red Sox", mlb.com, October 21, 2018. 
- Cathal Kelly: "Absent a real rivalry, this World Series offers contrasting visions of America's pastime", The Globe and Mail, October 23, 2018, pp. B14-B15. 
- Gabe Lacques: "Resilient Dodgers in odd spot: Underdogs, to 108-win Red Sox for World Series", mlb.com, October 21, 2018. 
- Gabe Lacques: "Red Sox should have made the call before Alex Cora to avoid Trump's White House", USA Today, May 6, 2019. 
- Gabe Lacques: "Red Sox insist there's no 'victory laps' after soft MLB penalty: 'We have to earn back trust'", USA Today, April 22, 2020. 
- Mike Lupica: "Red Sox-Dodgers Series is the one we deserve", mlb.com, October 21, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Look out Dodgers, Brewers — these Red Sox look unstoppable", USA Today, October 18, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "These Red Sox are the kings of this century, winning four World Series titles in 15 years", USA Today, October 28, 2018. 
- Tom Schad: "Donald Trump praises Red Sox at White House ceremony as several players, manager skip event", USA Today, May 10, 2019. 
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series