For the first time in five years!
What a feeling. What a game. What a team!
There's so much that can and should be said about this team that I can't cover it all right now. (But, don't you worry I will at some point.) There are some things, though, that just need to be talked about now. Like last night's clinching game.
I've often said that the definition of “clutch” as “late and close” is somewhat misleading. There can be clutch home runs prior to the seventh inning. Steve Pearce proved that last night. His home run three batters into the game did more than give the Red Sox a first inning lead. It was crushing to the soul of theDodgers. They're in an elimination scenario. They have their ace on the mound, so they at least have some hope. Then, bam, they're down two runs before fans have found their seats. If there's a way to lose a game before it starts, that was it. A one-hundred percent clutch “here we go again” home run in the top of the first inning. Incredible.
Speaking of clutch first inning home runs, the Dodgers tried to get one of their own when they led off their game with a home run on the first pitch. (Thereby making Pearce’s home run even more clutch looking back.) That, of course, could have been crushing for the Sox. A momentum shift to be sure. And, admit it, part of you wondered if it was going to rattle Price. OK, all of you wondered if it would rattle Price. But, it didn’t. New Price didn't let it get to him, and just shut the door on the Dodgers without allowing another run. This isn't your father’s David Price.
Or, what about the “triple” to right field that JD Martinez lost in the sky? That was going to be it, right? A guy who was in the lineup only for his bat, which had been missing for a while, makes a mistake like that. Once again, fans were probably thinking that was it. It was Buckner in there for his bat costing the team with his glove. And specifically for Price, you could almost see it in his head. “I'm finally pitching well, and he does THAT!?!?” Another perfect opportunity to unravel. The odds failing Price again. But, no. He retired the next two batters, and left the guy standing at third base. Two chances to fall apart turned into two chances for Price to simply stand up taller instead.
The key bats returned just in time. We had been wondering where Mookie and JD were hiding. They had allowed the bottom of the order to do a lot of the heavy lifting this far. But, they came back with a key home run each late in the game. Key for a couple reasons. For one, in a clinching game you can never have too many insurance runs. Make it as easy as possible on the bullpen to close out the game. But personally too, it was nice to see them chip in. Mookie didn't end the series going 0-15 or whatever. He hit a key home run in the clincher. That has to feel good, and makes his stat sheet look more respectable. I am especially glad in his case, since it looked like he was coming around, and hitting the ball harder. It would have been too bad if he ran out of time before he found his swing again. JD looked more lost at the plate. But it was still nice to have him end on such a positive. Next year, they'll have something to build on.
After Price’s magnificent start, the game was turned over to another new pitcher, “Playoff Joe Kelly”. Kelly continued his newly remembered dominance and struck out the side. Amazing.
The last inning was handled by Chris Sale. So, apparently he was healthy after all. I was worried that the ball would go to Craig Kimbrel. While he had rediscovered his dominance, in his outing during game four he looked TIRED! I was afraid he would get to close out the game because he “deserved” to close, even if he wasn’t the right guy at the time. After all, he probably had pretty good numbers in Cora’s binder. But, Cora actually played this one by ear. (Unless Sale’s numbers were even better, which is possible.) He slammed the door by striking out the side himself. He even created the best finishing moment since Papelbon levitated with his hands on his head. The image of Manny Machado falling to a knee after being embarrassed by the pitch pretty much summed up the series for him and the Dodgers.
So the best regular season team is the best playoff team as well. It was an amazing ride through an incredible season and I can’t wait to keep talking about it in the months to come.
What was your favorite moment?