Red Sox, clearly the better team, win the World Series in five games over Dodgers

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A quartet of homers from Steve Pearce (two), Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez provided more than enough offense as the Red Sox defeated the Dodgers 5-1 on Sunday night in Game 5 of the World Series, winning the organization’s first championship since 2013 and their ninth overall. Pearce, coming off a tremendous Game 4 performance, hit a two-run shot in the first inning to open the scoring. Mookie Betts, who had been ice cold throughout the playoffs, drilled a solo blast in the sixth. J.D. Martinez clobbered a solo homer to dead-center off of Kershaw to begin the seventh. Pearce added another solo shot off of Pedro Báez in the eighth, padding the lead to four runs.

David Price, not Chris Sale, opposed Clayton Kershaw to start Game 5, a matchup of starters with perceived troubled postseason issues. Price, after struggling in his first two starts of the postseason, threw quite well in his last two starts and even got two outs in relief in the 18-inning Game 3 classic. Kershaw has had two terrific starts this postseason and two subpar outings.

Price outdueled Kershaw on Sunday, pitching seven-plus strong innings, yielding a lone run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts on 83 pitches. The lone run came in the bottom of the first when David Freese hit a solo homer to right-center field on a first-pitch fastball. Kershaw, meanwhile, surrendered the four runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts on 92 pitches.

Price issued a walk to Chris Taylor to begin the eighth inning, ending his night. Joe Kelly entered, promptly striking out the side, sending Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, and Cody Bellinger back to the dugout unhappy.

In the ninth, Chris Sale — not Craig Kimbrel, notably — took the mound to close out the game. The strikeouts continued as Sale got Justin Turner to chase at a slider in the dirt. After falling behind 3-1 to Enrique Hernández, Sale fought back and got him to chase at a 3-2 slider for the second out. Fittingly, Manny Machado represented the final out of the Dodgers’ season. Sale threw a 1-2 slider that Machado whiffed at, clinching the World Series for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox, winners of 108 games during the regular season, appeared throughout the World Series to be the clearly better team in all facets of the game. This isn’t to say the Red Sox made zero mistakes, but their ability to execute fundamentally was a level above the Dodgers and it is what allowed them to close out the series in a rather tidy five games.

Early in the series, I highlighted Boston’s ability to come through with runners in scoring position, particularly with two outs. That was obviously not the deciding factor in Game 3’s 18-inning, knock-down, drag-out affair. What became the factor in Games 4 and 5 was Boston’s power potential as well as execution in RISP situations. The Dodgers’ bullpen was ambushed in Game 4 to the tune of eight runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth as the Red Sox hit a pair of doubles and a pair of homers, which helped make four walks and three singles more impactful. All four of the runs the Red Sox scored in Game 5 came home by way of the homer.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora seemed to push all the right buttons compared to his counterpart in the Dodger dugout, Dave Roberts. Critics will have plenty of fodder for playing Monday morning quarterback with Roberts, whether it was relying too heavily on a clearly ineffective Ryan Madson, not leaning heavily enough on Max Muncy, taking out Rich Hill too early in Game 4, or leaving Clayton Kershaw in too long in Game 5. The biggest gripe critics will have of Cora is that he called on Kimbrel a bit too often. Kimbrel gave up a hit and a walk in Game 3 and served up a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 4, but the Red Sox thankfully had built up a substantial lead.

Across the five games in the World Series, the Red Sox offense cobbled together a .222/.303/.386 triple-slash line in the World Series while the Dodgers hit .180/.249/.302. Boston’s line is better, but not substantially better to warrant outscoring the other side by 12 runs over five games. It all came down to executing when it mattered most. Let’s not forget that to even get to the World Series, the Red Sox had to dispatch of two 100-win teams in the Yankees (100) and Astros (103). At no point in the playoffs were the Red Sox in danger of being eliminated from a series. It was a remarkable season from start to finish for the Red Sox as baseball’s best team emerged with the trophy.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Diamondbacks 4, Braves 1: 🎶Stop me, oh-oh-oh, stop me . . .stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before . . .🎶

Sorry. Just waylaid by this Braves bullpen. Nothing’s changed. It’s enough to make a shy, bald, Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder. Me watching the game: 🎶 I drank one. It became four. And when I fell on the floor I drank more.🎶

Christian Walker hit a two-run homer in the seventh off of Chad Sobotka, who, didn’t get an out and who has given up five runs in his last two outings. The Diamondbacks have won four straight.

Nationals 4, Giants 2: Patrick Corbin took a one-hitter into the eighth inning and ended having allowed only one run on two hits while punching out nine. Not literally, though. If he punched out nine guys he’d probably be arrested.

Tigers 9, White Sox 7: Detroit ends a five-game skid. Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera led the way, with the former going 3-for-4, the latter 2-for-4 and both driving in two runs. Dustin Peterson and Grayson Greiner also each drove in two, but they don’t get to be characterized as “leading the way” because baseball has a pretty strict seniority system and if you get too loosey-goosey with it you got a big hassle with the union and I’ve already had too many fires to put out this week, OK?

Blue Jays 7, Twins 4: Randal Grichuk, who got all “play the game the right way” on Tim Anderson on Wednesday, hit a homer. After which he gently laid his bat down parallel to the base line, assumed an expression which suggested mild pleasure but copious humility and then stoically ran the bases at a speed which reflected his obvious reverence for players past, present and future. I’m assuming at least.

Here’s what he actually said:

“I’ve never been one to flip a bat or do anything like that. I run out of the box always. I’ve hit some pretty far homers and I’ve sprinted out of the box like it was a wall-scraper. It’s just who I am. (Other) guys are different.”

Someone give that guy the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Justin Smoak and Teoscar Hernández hit home runs too. No word on whether Grichuk silently judged them afterwards. The Jays took three of four from the Twinkies.

Royals 6, Yankees 1: Homer Bailey — Homer Bailey? — yes, Homer Bailey held the Bombers to one run over six. Jorge Soler and Ryan O'Hearn hit dingers. New York got four singles in the game. That’s it. I guess with the Red Sox and Cubs being off someone had to step up and satisfy the “big money teams stinkin’ up the joint” quota for the evening.

Dodgers 3, Brewers 1: Before the game Dave Roberts announced that Julio Urías would head to the bullpen after this start since the Dodgers will soon be getting a couple of veteran pitchers back. Then Urías goes out and tosses six one-hit shutout innings while striking out nine. There are teams that would kill to have the sort of depth that would allow this kid to be shuffled off to long relief after a start like this. Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy homered in a winning cause. Christian Yelich homered in a losing cause.

Orioles 6, Rays 5: Joey Rickard drove in the winning run in the 11th inning with an RBI double. To even get him up to bat required Chris Davis to hit a two-out RBI single, and I wonder what the odds of that happening were. RIckard himself was no sure bet to play the hero here after coming into the game on an 0-for-15 skid, but he reached base five times and drove in two on the night. Dude used to be a Ray, too. Or at least in their system. Baltimore swiped him from Tampa Bay in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft. Here’s another killer for the Rays: Tommy Pham, who was 4-for-5 with two driven in, was on second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the score tied but . . . got picked off while trying to steal third base. Ouch.

Rockies 6, Phillies 2: Ryan McMahon homered twice and had five RBI. Kyle Freeland pitched six scoreless innings but had to leave with a blister, so that’s worth watching. Colorado was won four in a row.

Mariners 11, Angels 10: The M’s had a 10-2 lead heading into the seventh and totally blew it when the Angels scored seven runs on seven hits in the seventh and got a David Fletcher homer in the eighth to tie things up. Seattle rallied in the ninth, though, with pinch hitter Jay Bruce singing in Mitch Haniger for the winning margin. Before all of that messiness the M’s bottom of the order, in the form of Omar Narváez and Ryon Healy, combined to drive in nine. Healy homered twice. Narváez hit a three-run shot. Speaking of shot, all the pitchers in this one probably should’ve been.

Reds 4, Padres 1: Joey Votto led off in this came, which was odd, and he hit a homer to start the game. Padres starter Chris Paddack said after the game that he “thought I could blow a heater by him.” Bless his heart. Fernando Tatís Jr. led off too, which is also new, and went 2-for-4. Tucker Barnhart and Jesse Winker also homered, helping Cincy snap a four-game losing skid.