The 2018 Boston Red Sox: a season in review
If you asked me in one word to describe the 2018 Boston Red Sox season, it would certainly be dominant. Regardless of how basic of an answer that is, winning 119 games and going 11-3 in postseason play is a historic accomplishment and deserves credit. If you go back through the season, there were moments that stuck out. Like a puzzle, these pieces coming together is what made this team so special. With this said though, the first important moment of the season came before the season even started, with the late off-season addition of J.D. Martinez. For a team that was last in home runs in the American League in 2017, the addition of former Tigers and Diamondbacks slugger certainly proved to be a boon to a lineup desperate for power.
The second major event of the season also happened off the field. It was the releasing of big-name icon Hanley Ramirez. Although at the time this move didn’t carry many on-the-field implications, it set the stage for life long Red Sox fan Steve Pearce to become a postseason legend. Dumping that contract and freeing up room on the roster allowed the Sox to acquire a bat who could hit lefties and on June 27th the Red Sox did just that, in signing Pearce. If you watched the World Series you know all about how that turned out.
Ok, I know 224 words in and any action on the field has yet to be talked about. Let’s change that. A couple key moments standout from the regular season. Who could forget the April “Joe Kelly fight club” brawl against Tyler Austin and the Yankees. Deeper into the season though, a fan favorite moment is Mookie Betts’ 13 pitch “its time to party” grand slam. It was July 12th and the Sox were trailing 2-1 in the 4th inning against Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ, a known Red Sox killer. Mookie Betts turned in the at-bat of the season, seeing 13 pitches, fouling off many before finally hitting a go-ahead grand slam over the monster to which commentator Dennis Eckersley famously called “its time to party!” A couple other moments are worth noting. Xander Bogaerts’ walk off grand slam just two days later, also against the Blue Jays. Only needing one run to win, Xander crushed a pitch to center to win the game 6-2. And who could forget Andrew Benintendi’s walk off single, to complete a 4-game sweep against the Yankees which essentially put the division to bed. These regular season moments although not fully capturing everything, highlight just how relentless this team could be.
The playoffs began with the Red Sox finishing up the season with 108 regular season wins and a nine-game lead over the Yankees, to win the AL East also capturing home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Even with the dominant regular season, the doubts in this team were countless. With being hurt going into the playoffs, the big question was Chris Sale’s health. Other questions were would David Price ever win a postseason game, and more importantly the terrified feeling regarding the bullpen. It took a JD Martinez three-run homer in Game 1, 16 runs in game three and a nail-biting hold-on victory in Game 4 to win the ALDS against New York.
Next came the defending Champs in the ALCS, the Houston Astros. After a tough Game 1 loss in which Chris Sale did not pitch well and the bullpen failed, the doubts were certainly there as Game 2 started. I was at this game, and I can say for certain, this turned around the entire postseason for the Sox. The energy in the stands was electric and the Red Sox pulled out a come from behind victory, riding a go a head three-run double from Jackie Bradley J.r. to tie up the series. The Sox ended up winning the series in five games. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for Andrew Benintendi’s game saving catch in a Game 4, that was an all-time baseball game, and a three-run homer off AL Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander by Rafael Devers in Game 5.
The last task was the World Series. Complete with an 18-inning classic, where the legend of pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was born, it was looking like it would turn out to be a close series. Down 4-0 in Game 3, the Dodgers looked to tie up the Series until Chris Sale went berserk in the dugout, and promptly Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce tied the game with a three-run home run and a solo shot respectively. That momentum lead to a resounding come from behind 9-6 victory. Riding an eight-inning, one-run performance in Game 5 from postseason bum turned World Series hero, David Price pitched masterfully. Add another couple bombs from soon to be World Series MVP Steve Pearce, and the Red Sox won Game 5, winning the series and becoming the first team to win four World Series in the 21st century.
It was truly a magical season and the Red Sox proved all year they were the best team in baseball, especially by beating two 100-win teams en-route to a championship. On a personal note I was lucky enough to attend so many games this year, and I know for certain this will be a season none of us here in New England will forget anytime soon.