4-homer finale caps Red Sox’s 4th title since ’04
LOS ANGELES — The Boston Red Sox dominated all season, played through pain when necessary and came through when it mattered most, making Chris Sale’s appearance Sunday for the final three outs of a championship the most fitting of final acts.
Sale, a starter who epitomized all of the Red Sox’s best traits, came out of the bullpen and struck out the Dodgers in order in the ninth inning of Game 5 in the World Series to give Boston its fourth World Series title since 2004 with a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Red Sox set up Sale’s final bow by first pounding the Dodgers into submission. World Series MVP Steve Pearce hit two home runs Sunday, while Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez each hit one. The victory was tidy, thorough and never in doubt, providing even more symbolism.
“Best feeling in my life,” said Pearce, who started the season with the Toronto Blue Jays and was dealt to Boston just before the non-waiver trade deadline. “This is what you grow up wishing, that you could be a part of something like this. With that special group of guys out there, to celebrate with them, that was awesome.”
Much as they did while rolling to a major-league-best 108 regular-season victories, the Red Sox also dominated the postseason. Boston lost just once in the World Series, and the Dodgers needed 18 innings and 7 hours, 20 minutes to take Game 3.
The Red Sox went 11-3 overall in the 2018 postseason and were an impressive 7-1 in road games while earning the ninth World Series championship in franchise history, tied for third most all-time with the Athletics franchise (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland). Only the St. Louis Cardinals (11) and the New York Yankees (27) have more.
The Red Sox also became the third franchise to win a World Series in four consecutive appearances, along with the Cardinals and Yankees.
Boston starter David Price, who pounded his chest upon leaving the field after the seventh, went seven-plus innings, giving up a run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five.
Price won his third consecutive postseason start, two in this World Series alone, after not earning a victory in any of his previous 11 playoff starts.
“My confidence was never altered,” Price said. “I always had belief in myself and my abilities. To be able to come through on this stage and in October for myself and my teammates, I know I can do it now. And it’s always a good feeling to have. It’s just good to know.”
Joe Kelly struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning, and Sale did the same in the ninth, fanning Manny Machado to end it.
Pearce’s bat put a charge in the Red Sox for the second consecutive game when he hit a two-run home run to center field in the first inning off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. He went deep to left in the eighth inning off Pedro Baez. Pearce also hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 on Saturday as the Red Sox rallied for a 9-6 victory.
Betts, the likely American League MVP, was just 4-for-19 in the World Series heading into Game 5, but his sixth-inning home run off Kershaw gave Boston a 3-1 lead. Martinez added to that cushion with a home run off Kershaw to left-center in the seventh.
Kershaw, who now has the choice to opt out of his Dodgers contract, was left with yet another postseason disappointment. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has generally been dominating in the regular season, but he fell to 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 30 postseason appearances (24 starts).
“Disappointed … yeah, just disappointed,” said Kershaw, who expects to make a decision on his contract within the next three days. “There’s only one team that can win and we know that, but it just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place.”
Kershaw gave up four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts Sunday, finishing this World Series with an 0-2 record and a 7.36 ERA. David Freese hit a leadoff home run in the first inning for the Dodgers, who finished with just three hits in Game 5.
Los Angeles lost in the World Series for the second year in a row, having dropped the 2017 Fall Classic to the Houston Astros in seven games.
“What (the Red Sox) did was well deserved,” said Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, who gave up game-tying home runs in the eighth inning of both Games 3 and 4. “They are one of the best teams in history. How they played this year, that’s not a fluke that they won 108 games. We did our best, man. We gave all we got. It’s definitely disappointing, it definitely stinks, but you have to keep your head up, work out in the offseason and try to get better.”
The Red Sox not only went 7-0 in the postseason when facing a left-handed starter, but they were 10-0 when they scored the first run of the game.
Boston manager Alex Cora became just the fifth person to win the World Series in his first season as a major league skipper. Bob Brenly with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, Ralph Houk with the 1961 Yankees, Eddie Dyer with the 1946 Cardinals and Bucky Harris with the 1924 Washington Senators also accomplished the feat.
“First of all, (the Red Sox) gave me a chance,” said Cora, who was on the coaching staff of last year’s champion Astros. “They saw me as a capable manager and they gave me a chance. It’s funny because when they announced (the hiring), we were flying to L.A. last year between the (AL) Championship Series and the World Series, and ironically enough, we win it here, so it goes full circle.”