2018 World Series: Red Sox keep proving they are much more than high-priced star power
The Red Sox supporting cast dazzled in Game 4 to give them a 3-1 lead
LOS ANGELES -- Falling into the trap of thinking the Red Sox were all star power and overly-high-priced talent could happen pretty easily to those who don't pay attention to the ballclub on a daily basis. After all, just look at who they've got.
J.D. Martinez just won an award for being the best hitter in the American League. He's a top level slugger in baseball on a nine-figure deal that is actually not paying him enough for what he provides.
Mookie Betts might well win the AL MVP this year.
Chris Sale will be toward the top of the AL Cy Young ballot, as he is most years.
David Price has a $200M-plus contract. He's won a Cy Young and finished as the runner up once.
Craig Kimbrel is arguably the best closer of his generation -- second after Kenley Jansen, if not first, but there's little reason to carry this debate now -- and if he gets a lot more longevity, he could end up in the Hall of Fame.
Yes, that's a lot of dollar signs, hardware and star power.
You don't win 108 games and get to within one win of a World Series title with a collection of stars, though. You win with a team. The Red Sox aren't here without the names listed above. They aren't even close. How they filled around all this star power is what has them where they are, though, and the also-rans shined in the Dodgers that put them within one win of the World Series championship.over the
"I mean that's something we've taken pride in all year," Mitch Moreland said of the Red Sox being more than just the stars. "We've won 108 games, and obviously we've got some guys, MVPs and that-type guys on our team. But it's taken all 25 of us to get where we are today. And we put ourselves in this position, something that we worked for since Day 1, and we're feeling good right now. It's something that we've kind of counted the days down and the wins down. So we've got one more to go and that's our goal right now."
Before getting into the Game 4 specifics, let's give another shout-out to Nathan Eovaldi for his unbelievable performance in extra innings in Game 3. Who knows how Game 4 turns out without that. He starts this list. He began the season on the disabled list for the Rays. He's been a major part of getting a 3-1 lead in the World Series in relief, despite being a starting pitcher.
"What Nate did [in Game 3] was one of the coolest things, one of the most impressive things that I've ever seen on a baseball field," Brock Holt said. "And for him to take the loss last night, it wasn't right. But I think all of us in uniform, coaching staff, players, I mean, you saw what he did for us, and I think we took that and we didn't want to just let that performance just wither away. I was in left field last night in his fifth inning, sixth inning, whatever it was, he's at 90 pitches, and he's still throwing the ball 99 miles an hour. He gave everything he's got for us. And I think that speaks volumes to this team, how we all care about each other, we all love each other, and we play for each other. And he proved that last night."
"Then [Saturday night] to be able to do what we did, after starting slow, I think that had a reason," Holt added. "That was part of it. Just let's get this win and do it for each other, and now we're one win away."
Eovaldi set the tone and the rest of the supporting cast took over in Game 4.
Steve Pearce started the season with the Blue Jays. He was acquired in late June. He hits third now against lefties. In Game 4, he was probably the hero. He hit a in the eighth inning and then put the game out of reach with a bases-clearing double in the ninth. He has a .419 on-base percentage and .500 slugging in the playoffs.
Moreland is on a two-year, $13 million deal, and he's a platoon player. He absolutely destroyed a Ryan Madson pitch for a three-run shot that made this thing a game again in the sixth.
Holt is a part-time Swiss Army Knife who got 367 regular-season plate appearances. He drew a walk and scored in the seventh before starting the big ninth-inning rally with a double down the left-field line. He scored the go-ahead run.
Rafael Devers is only 22 years old and making the league minimum. He delivered the go-ahead single with one out in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. He drove home Holt.
"[Manager] Alex [Cora] tells us to be ready from the first inning on because you don't know what situations are going to arise, and that's just what we do is, we try to stay ready to help in any way that we can," Devers said after Game 4.
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez last started a game on Sept. 20. He even pitched in relief in Game 3. Yet he took the ball in Game 4 and worked five scoreless innings before his manager left him in too long. He still deserves a lot of credit for holding the Dodgers at bay the first five innings.
"That was really impressive," Joe Kelly said. "Obviously, he's a guy that hadn't started in a while. Pitch count down. He pitched yesterday. It's kind of been, I guess, the motto. Everyone's hanging this time of year, but it's one of those things where adrenaline helps a lot and Eddie is one of those guys who no matter how big the situation is, he's always calm, and he's always collected. But for him to go that deep in the game was really impressive. Every single game and every single night someone else steps up. It's been our mantra the whole entire season."
Kelly himself threw two scoreless innings in relief. Matt Barnes has a 1.04 ERA this postseason. Pick your poison. You can find a Red Sox player that has contributed to this run up and down the roster.
Yes, there's a huge payroll and a lot of stars in that locker room. There are also role players who can beat you. It's an incredibly well-rounded team and that was in full display throughout the epic comeback in Game 4.
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