October 28, 2018: Red Sox roll to another World Series crown behind David Price, Steve Pearce

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw started Game Five of the World Series throwing nothing but strikes. Boston’s Mookie Betts flied out to left-center on his second pitch. Andrew Benintendi grounded a single up the middle on the third strike he saw. And Steve Pearce swung at Kershaw’s next pitch, hitting a two-run homer to straightaway left-center, into the first row of seats. Pearce now had a home run, a three-run double, and a two-run homer in consecutive Dodger Stadium at-bats. And Boston had a 2-0 lead.

David Price was something of a surprise starter for the Red Sox, manager Alex Cora turning to him rather than Chris Sale, despite Price having worked briefly in Game Three and warmed up during Game Four. Price’s willingness to start allowed Cora to keep Sale in reserve for a possible Game Six.

The Dodgers didn’t take long to respond. David Freese swung at the very first pitch from Price and hit it to the opposite field, two or three rows deep into the seats in right-center. 2-1.

Freese tripled to right in the bottom of the third, but did not score.

Both pitchers were tough. Kershaw allowed a single to J.D. Martinez in the top of the fourth, but it was followed by a double play. Aside from the two hits by Freese, Price allowed a single to Yasiel Puig in the second inning but that was it. It was still 2-1 after five innings.

This was an elimination game. If the Red Sox won, the Series was over. If the Dodgers won, there would be at least one more game.

The Red Sox added another run in the top of the sixth. Price grounded out to lead off the inning. Mookie Betts was up. He had flied out to center field twice. He was 0-for-his-last 13. This time he hit the ball a little harder and over the fence in left-center.

After six innings, it was 3-1, Red Sox.

Leading off the seventh was J.D. Martinez. Kershaw was still on the mound. John Smoltz had just finished saying on the Fox telecast that “three was the max. That’s that most you want to give against any team, any game, and that’s where Clayton’s got. He’s got to buckle down now.” He’d just said that when Joe Buck said, “High ball into center! Back at the wall and it’s gone. Martinez goes deep.”1 The score was now 4-1.

Kershaw gave up singles to Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers but there was a strikeout and a couple of groundouts, and no further scoring. The third out was made by David Price, batting for himself – as clear a sign as any that Cora still wanted him in the game rather than perhaps have to face some of the left-handed batters the Dodgers might send up.

With a total of just seven pitches, Price retired the three Dodgers he faced in the bottom of the seventh. He’d retired 14 in a row.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called on Pedro Baez to pitch the eighth inning against the Red Sox. Betts hit a ball to center, caught a few feet in front of the warning track. Benintendi hit a pop foul to the catcher. Pearce was up next. He hit another home run – to straightaway left field, several rows deep. This time, he allowed himself a smile.

Price came out to start the eighth, but walked the first batter, Chris Taylor. The bullpen was ready. Cora called on Joe Kelly.

David Price had come into the postseason with a poor record in postseason play but he’d turned that around. Price left the game having given up one run on the first pitch of the game but then never surrendering another, allowing just two more base hits in his seven-plus innings of work.2

Matt Kemp pinch-hit for Austin Barnes. Kelly struck him out. Joc Pederson pinch-hit for Pedro Baez. Kelly struck him out. Cody Bellinger pinch-hit for David Freese. Kelly struck him out. Kelly had pitched in nine of Boston’s postseason games, with an ERA of 0.79. He’d allowed one run in 11⅓ innings.

The Red Sox weren’t taking anything for granted, though. They had had Chris Sale up in the bullpen and Nathan Eovaldi up as well.

The game entered the ninth, with the Red Sox up 5-1. They needed only three more outs and they would win their fourth world championship in a 15-year stretch (one that followed their 86-year drought). The Dodgers were the team in a drought of their own – 30 years at this point, since they beat the Oakland A’s in 1988.

The Red Sox batted in the ninth, getting a leadoff walk but followed by a double play and a groundout to first.

Cora turned to Chris Sale to pitch the bottom of the ninth. The Dodgers had up their 2, 3, and 4 batters in the order – Justin Turner, Enrique Hernandez, and Manny Machado. Sale struck out Turner, swinging. Sale struck out Hernandez, swinging. Sale struck out Machado, swinging. Falling to his right knee. Every one of the last six batters Red Sox pitchers faced had all struck out. There was no one left to strike out. The season was over. The Red Sox were indeed world champions again.

Do damage. That was the Red Sox slogan that had evolved during the season. Every run of the game – by both teams – came on home runs. The Red Sox hit four of them. The Dodgers hit one. With seven RBIs in the two final games, Steve Pearce was named Series MVP.3

The Red Sox had won 108 games in the regular season. They lost one game in the first round – the Division Series. They lost one game in the second round of the playoffs – the League Championship Series. And they lost one game in the World Series.

By the time it was all over, the 2018 Red Sox – fielding perhaps their best team in franchise history – had won 119 games. The Dodgers had won 100.

For Dodgers fans, the defeat produced something like a despondent déjà-vu. Just one year earlier, on November 1, 2017, the Dodgers had played Game Seven of that year’s World Series – at the same venue, Dodger Stadium, with the same result, a loss, and even by the same score, 5-1, to the Houston Astros.

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times seemed to single out Machado for some blame: “The game ended appropriately with a kneeling strikeout of Manny Machado, who didn’t seem particularly interested all night, who failed to hustle throughout the postseason, and whose celebrated midseason acquisition proved to be a bust.”4 A number of Red Sox fans, who still bitterly recalled Machado’s slide into second base that effectively ended Dustin Pedroia’s career, felt a bit of extra satisfaction at the sight. “For all their glory in winning six National League West titles in a row, they need to figure out how to finish the job when it counts most.”5

There was other blame that could be assessed – Kershaw had lost two of the four games, giving up nine runs in 11 innings of work.

The Times’s Bill Shaikin wrote that the Red Sox owners had been willing to spend, even taking the hit of the luxury tax, which the Dodgers had not.6 He also said they had held onto their best prospect, Alex Verdugo, while the Red Sox had been willing to trade theirs – Yoan Moncada, which helped them get Chris Sale.7

In the end, though, one might be better advised to credit the Red Sox as a team that had simply rolled over the opposition all year long, handily enough beating two other 100-win teams in the Yankees and Astros to make it to the World Series in the first place. Maria Torres noted that the Dodgers’ ERA of 4.85 was more than two runs worse than Boston’s and that Boston’s batting average with runners in scoring position was a remarkable .471 in the Series.8

“This is an alternate universe for Sox fans of a certain age,” write Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. “During the 86-year drought, the Red Sox lost the World Series four times, each in an excruciating seventh game. Not anymore. … The Red Sox are 16-3 in World Series games in the new millennium.”9

“This is the greatest team in Red Sox history,” said team owner John Henry.10

Many credited rookie manager Alex Cora. The Globe’s Nick Cafardo said he outmanaged Dave Roberts “and the Dodgers’ front office.”11


This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copy-edited by Len Levin.


In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, and a recording of the game’s broadcast on YouTube.




1 John Smoltz and Joe Buck, on the Fox Sports broadcast of Game Five.

2 Tara Sullivan of the Boston Globe wrote a column showing just how triumphantly David Price had overcome what had become something of a postseason curse. Many felt that Price deserved the Series MVP, or at least co-MVP status. “He Got His Hollywood Ending,” Boston Globe, October 29, 2018: C1.

3 Chad Finn offered a post-Series profile of Pearce. See “At 35, MVP Pearce Joins Elite Group of Home Run Hitters,’ Boston Globe, October 29, 2018: C6.

4 Bill Plaschke, “October Had Been the Dodgers’ Cruelest Month,” Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2018. search-proquest-com.mcpl.idm.oclc.org/latimes/docview/2126562131/3D15C7BE2F91425APQ/2?accountid=69.

5 Plaschke. Jorge Castillo catalogued a number of other instances in which Machado was seen as lacking. See “Manny Machado’s Final Out Punctuated His Postseason with Dodgers,” Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2018, search-proquest-com.mcpl.idm.oclc.org/latimes/docview/2126562314/3D15C7BE2F91425APQ/10?accountid=69.

6 Bill Shaikin, “Dodgers Must Figure Out Why Regular Season Was So Right and World Series Went So Wrong,” Los Angeles Times, October 28, 2018. search-proquest-com.mcpl.idm.oclc.org/latimes/docview/2126562188/3D15C7BE2F91425APQ/5?accountid=69.

7 Interestingly enough, in 2020 the Dodgers and Red Sox took part in some trading that resulted in Verdugo landing on the Red Sox and the Dodgers landing a franchise player from Boston in Mookie Betts, with the Red Sox getting themselves out from under the luxury tax. The 2018 Red Sox had been the team with the highest payroll in baseball that year.

8 Maria Torres, “Disappointment Reigns in the Dodgers Clubhouse,” Los Angeles Times, October 29, 2018. search-proquest-com.mcpl.idm.oclc.org/latimes/docview/2126943072/3D15C7BE2F91425APQ/40?accountid=69.

9 Dan Shaughnessy, “One for the Ages,” Boston Globe, October 29, 2018: A1.

10 Peter Abraham, “Untouchable Sox Win World Series,” Boston Globe, October 29, 2018: C4.

11 Nick Cafardo, “A True Leader in the Clubhouse,” Boston Globe, October 29, 2018: C5. Before the 2020 season got underway, Cora was gone, due to discipline meted out by Major League Baseball during his time with the Houston Astros in 2017 for his role in illegal sign-stealing.

Additional Stats

Boston Red Sox 5
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
Game 5, WS

Dodger Stadium
Los Angeles, CA


Box Score + PBP:

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