The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES–Chris Sale’s final pitch for this Boston juggernaut triggered a celebration on the Dodger Stadium infield, among thousands of fans who made their way to California–and even outside Fenway Park back home.
The quest is complete. Yes, these 2018 Red Sox really are that great.
A team to remember from top to bottom. A season to savour from start to finish.
David Price proved his post-season mettle, and Steve Pearce homered twice, as Boston beat the L.A. Dodgers 5-1 last night to finish off a one-sided World Series in five games.
A frustrated franchise during decades of despair before ending an 86-year championship drought in 2004, the Red Sox have become baseball’s team of the century with four titles in 15 seasons.
“Seeing all these grown men over there, just acting like kids, that’s what it’s all about,” Price said after pitching three-hit ball into the eighth inning on short rest.
“This is why I came to Boston.”
After losing on opening day, Alex Cora’s team romped to a 17-2 start and a club-record 108 wins, then went 11-3 in the post-season by first dispatching the 100-win N.Y. Yankees and the 103-victory and defending champion Houston Astros in the playoffs.
Cora, a player on Boston’s 2007 championship team, became the first manager from Puerto Rico to win a title and just the fifth rookie skipper overall.
“I don’t know where we stand in history and all that,” said Dave Dombrowski, the club’s president of baseball operations.
“If somebody would say you’re going to win 119 games and lose 57, we’d never, ever fathom that.”
Pearce hit a two-run homer on Clayton Kershaw’s sixth pitch. Solo homers by Mookie Betts in the sixth inning and J.D. Martinez in the seventh quieted the L.A. crowd.
Pearce added a solo drive off Pedro Baez in the eighth, then was named the Series MVP after the game.
“Best feeling in my life,” Pearce said.
A June acquisition from Toronto, Pearce had three homers and seven RBIs in the final two games.
Thousands of Boston fans remained on the first-base side of the stadium long after the final out, chanting “Let’s go Red Sox!” and singing “Sweet Caroline.”
Of course, they let loose a few choice words about the rival Yankees, too.
“I never knew there were so many Red Sox fans here,” Martinez said.
Players’ families, many dressed in red, congregated on the field to join the celebration–some holding babies, some watching children run across the outfield in glee.
“This is the greatest Red Sox team in history,” owner John Henry proclaimed after receiving the Series trophy.
After losing to Houston in Game 7 last year by the same 5-1 score, the Dodgers became the first team ousted on its home field in consecutive World Series since the N.Y. Giants by the N.Y. Yankees at the Polo Grounds in 1936 and ’37.
L.A. remains without a championship since 1988.
“Ran up against a very good ballclub–and just a little bit too much for us,” said manager Dave Roberts, who played for Boston’s 2004 championship team.
Boston outscored the Dodgers 28-16 and had only a slightly better batting average at .222 to .180.
But the Red Sox got timely hitting and won their ninth title overall, tying the Athletics for third-most behind the Yankees (27) and Cardinals (11).
All that stood between the Red Sox and a sweep was an 18-inning loss in Game 3, the longest World Series game ever.
They trailed 4-0 in the seventh inning of Game 4 when Sale rose from the dugout bench for a fiery, profane, motivational rant–and his teammates woke up in time to rally for a 9-6 win.
Boston never trailed in Game 5.
“I didn’t say anything that anyone didn’t know,” Sale noted. “Just rallying the troops and letting them know–we’re the best team on the planet and to start playing like it.”
The 33-year-old Price, a Cy Young Award winner in 2012, long pitched under an October shadow cast by his regular-season success.
He had been 0-9 in 11 post-season starts before defeating Astros’ ace Justin Verlander in the clinching Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.
The left-hander won his third-straight start yesterday and became the first pitcher to beat Cy Young winners in the finale of an LCS and the World Series in the same year.
“I’ve been through a lot in three years since I came here but this is why I came,” said Price, who, like Kershaw, can opt out of his contract in the coming days and become a free agent.
After allowing two runs over six innings to win Game 2 last Wednesday, Price got two outs in the ninth inning of Friday’s marathon game.
He became the first to pitch into the eighth inning of a Series game on one day of rest since the Yankees’ Bob Turley in 1957.
“All the haters, it’s time to be quiet and show the guy some respect,” Martinez said.