How the Red Sox Won World Series Game 5, Inning by Inning
The Boston Red Sox lost their first game of the regular season. After that, nearly everything went their way.
They were the best team in baseball throughout the regular season and they completed a thrilling run through the postseason to capture the franchise’s ninth World Series title when they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, in a decisive Game 5 on Sunday.
A matchup of dominant left-handed starters — both of whom had often struggled in the postseason — looked like it would be decided by the bullpens when both teams put runs on the scoreboard in the first inning. But both David Price and Clayton Kershaw showed some of their best stuff when the lights were at their brightest, settling down into a pitchers’ duel at Dodger Stadium.
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Price, who had never won a postseason game as a starter coming into this season, was simply better.
The 33-year-old Price, who won Game 2 and pitched in relief in Game 3, went 7 innings, allowing 3 hits and striking out 5. The only run he allowed came on the first pitch he threw, a fastball that David Freese hit over the wall in right-center.
Asked in an on-field interview about finally erasing the doubts about his postseason career, Price at first tried to focus the attention on his teammates.
“It’s very special,” he said of the win. “Seeing all these grown men over there acting like little kids, that’s what it’s all about.”
When pushed to say what it meant to him personally, he said “This is why I came to Boston.”
Kershaw, who has had more than his fair share of hard-luck postseason performances, was brilliant in stretches. He allowed two runs in the first on a home run by Steve Pearce, and then was unhittable for a stretch of four innings, with Boston’s batters looking completely lost. He could not keep it up, however, as Mookie Betts homered in the sixth and J.D. Martinez homered in the seventh, giving Price plenty of cushion to cruise to the victory.
Kershaw ended up throwing seven innings, allowing seven hits and four runs while striking out five batters and walking none.
Pearce, a 35-year-old who came to Boston in an unheralded trade in June, had provided all the offense the Red Sox would need with his homer in the first, but he added a second off Pedro Baez in the eighth, giving the Red Sox insurance they did not need. Boston used their ace, Chris Sale, to close out the game.
Pearce, who also homered in Game 4, was named the World Series’ most valuable player.
“We’re a bunch of grinders,” Pearce said after the game. “The way we play, day in and day out, this is exactly where we knew we would be.”
The Dodgers, after overcoming a terrible start to the season, finished as baseball’s runner-up for a second consecutive season and have now gone 30 seasons without winning a World Series.
Boston finished off a season in which they started 9-1 after that initial loss, won 108 games, beat the 100-win Yankees in a division series, beat the 103-win Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series and then finished things off against the 92-win Dodgers. The win gave them four World Series titles over the last 15 seasons after they had not won one between 1918 and 2004.
This time around they made it look easy, from start to finish.
Here’s how the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in Game 5:
Bottom 9th: Sale Strikes Out the Side
Chis Sale was expected by many to start this game. He finished it instead.
Boston’s ace started strong by striking out Justin Turner on a vicious slider in the dirt. He fell behind, 3-1, on Enrique Hernandez but then recovered to get a second strikeout, once again with that unhittable slider.
With two outs, Manny Machado, the rental superstar that had irked so many people in Boston in the past, came to the plate, and struck out on the fourth pitch he saw from Sale, ending the Dodgers’ season.
The Red Sox, for the fourth time in 15 seasons, are champions.
Top 9th: Dodgers Keep It Fairly Close
Kenley Jansen came out for the ninth and after a walk he got out of trouble quickly.
Xander Bogaerts was issued the free pass, but he was erased by Brock Holt grounding into a 4-6-3 double-play. Rafael Devers then grounded out to end the inning.
The Dodgers have their 2-3-4 hitters up try to save their season in the ninth. It’s unclear who Boston will send to the mound.
Bottom 8th: Joe Kelly Fans Dodgers’ Hitters
David Price’s streak of 14 consecutive outs ended when Chris Taylor walked to start the eighth inning and that was it for the lefty as Alex Cora brought in Joe Kelly.
Kelly had his starter’s back, stranding the runner by striking out the pinch-hitters Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger.
The Dodgers have just three more outs to save their season.
Top 8th: Pearce Hits His Second Home Run
Pedro Baez came on in relief of Clayton Kershaw and he made things worse, allowing a solo home run to Steve Pearce that made it 5-1.
Mookie Betts led off, and was a fairly quick out on a fly ball to center field. Andrew Benintendi popped out to the catcher but then Pearce, who had homered in the first inning to start Boston’s scoring, hit another, taking a changeup from Baez over the wall in left-center.
With two outs and the bases empty, J.D. Martinez struck out to end the inning.
Bottom 7th: Price Removes Any Doubt
David Price is making sure that no one questions his postseason credentials ever again. He cruised through the seventh and still looks unhittable.
Manny Machado lined out to short, Max Muncy flied out to left and Yasiel Puig hit a soft comebacker to end the inning.
Top 7th: Martinez Tags Kershaw for One More
Clayton Kershaw has battled to keep up with David Price, but he looks done after seven innings. He’d allowed a home run to Mookie Betts in the sixth and he allowed a homer to J.D. Martinez to start the seventh. Even though he escaped without further damage, the long-time ace does not seem to have anything left.
After Martinez homered to center, Xander Bogaerts singled on a liner to left. Brock Holt grounded out to second and then advanced to second when Rafael Devers singled.
Christian Vazquez struck out for the second out of the inning and then David Price grounded out to get Kershaw out of the inning.
Bottom 6th: Price Shuts Down Dodgers Again
David Price is making this look easy.
David Freese finally made an out, grounding out to second. Justin Turner lined out to left and Enrique Hernandez grounded out to second.
With the 1-2-3- inning, Price is through six and has thrown just 76 pitches.
Top 6th: Betts Blasts a Solo Home Run to Extend Red Sox’ Lead
Boston padded its lead with a solo home run from the slumping Mookie Betts and is now up 3-1.
After David Price grounded out, Betts, who had not gotten a hit in his last 13 at-bats, stroked a slider over the wall in left-center for the first postseason home run of his career.
Betts’s blast did not seem to shake Clayton Kershaw, who got a groundout from Andrew Benintendi and a flyout from Steve Pearce to end the inning.
Bottom 5th: Another 1-2-3 Inning for Price
David Price may have gotten a little help from the umpire in a 1-2-3 fifth.
Chris Taylor, who normally takes gigantic hacks, got rung up on a checked swing third strike, with the home plate umpire, Jeff Nelson, making the call without help from his first-base umpire on a call that was borderline at best. Nelson then argued a bit with the Dodgers’ dugout before Price pitched to Austin Barnes.
Barnes proceeded to ground out to second and Clayton Kershaw, who has been cruising as a pitcher, was allowed to bat a second time and ended the inning with a soft comebacker to Price.
Top 5th: Suddenly, It’s a Pitchers’ Duel
Clayton Kershaw looks simply unhittable right now.
Boston’s leadoff batter, Brock Holt, lined out to first base. Rafael Devers struck out on three pitches, keeping his bat on his shoulder as Kershaw’s pitches danced around the strike zone. Then it was simply a matter of getting Christian Vazquez to pop out to left and Kershaw was out of the inning.
Bottom 4th: Price Has Some More Juice Left
David Price kept his pitch-count down and cruised through a perfect fourth.
Manny Machado struck out on five pitches, simply flailing at a vicious changeup. Max Muncy swung at the first pitch he saw, flying out to center, and Yasiel Puig ended the inning by lining out to second.
Price is at 56 pitches and has not shown any fatigue as of yet.
Top 4th: Red Sox Can’t Figure Out Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw continues to keep things quiet.
After Steve Pearce grounded out to third, J.D. Martinez got his first hit of the game to with a single to left. But the mild threat was snuffed out quickly when Xander Bogaerts grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double-play.
Bottom 3rd: Martinez Loses One, but Price Recovers
Boston’s desire to have a big bat in the lineup nearly cost them a run when J.D. Martinez badly blew a play in the outfield, but David Price worked around a runner on third to add another scoreless inning to his collection.
After Clayton Kershaw started the inning by grounding out to third, David Freese hit a ball deep to right. Martinez, typically a designated hitter, clearly lost the ball before it got to him and then once he ran the ball down at the wall he no real chance of throwing out Freese despite Freese having gotten off to a slow start since he assumed the ball would be caught.
With a runner on third and one out, Justin Turner grounded out to short with Freese being forced to hold. Price then escaped the inning when Enrique Hernandez fouled out.
Top 3rd: Kershaw Has Been Dominant Since the First Inning
The scoring came quickly in the first inning, but both pitchers have settled down. It was Clayton Kershaw’s turn to cruise in the top of the third. David Price’s first at-bat of the season was one of the more comical mismatches possible, as the lefty-swinging A.L. pitcher was up against the lefty-dominating Kershaw, but Price managed to draw five pitches before striking out, which was something of a victory.
That brought up the top of Boston’s order, and Mookie Betts continued his recent funk, dropping to 0 for his last 13 when he flied out to center. With two outs, Andrew Benintendi grounded out to first to end the inning.
Bottom 2nd: Price Puts Another Zero on the Board
David Price worked around a single to pitch a scoreless inning.
Max Muncy is in the game for his bat, not his glove, but in his first at-bat against David Price he went down swinging, striking out on a low changeup that had him completely fooled.
Yasiel Puig gave Los Angeles a base runner when he singled on a fly to left-center that Andrew Benintendi could not run down. With one on and one out, Chris Taylor worked a full-count before flying out to center. That left Austin Barnes, who struck out on four pitches. Barnes is now 0-for-10 in the World Series.
Price, who is pitching on short rest, will probably be on a somewhat limited pitch-count, so with him already being up to 38, there is a chance that he may only be able to go three or four innings tonight.
Top 2nd: Kershaw Settles Down
Clayton Kershaw absolutely cruised through Boston’s 6-7-8 hitters.
Brock Holt flied out softly to left and Rafael Devers struck out swinging. That brought up Christian Vazquez, and the Red Sox catcher lined out to center to end the inning.
Bottom 1st: Freese Takes First Pitch Deep
David Freese only needed one pitch to close the gap to 2-1, hitting a 92-m.p.h. fastball from David Price over the wall in right-center. But that was all Los Angeles could muster.
After Freese’s blast, Justin Turner walked on five pitches. He was erased when Enrique Hernandez grounded into a 5-4-3 double-play.
Manny Machado, who has been mostly punchless in this World Series, took the first five pitches he saw, getting to a full-count. After fouling off three pitches, he struck out to end the inning. Nine of Price’s 16 pitches in the inning went to Machado.
Top 1st: Pearce’s Blast Shakes Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw’s postseason struggles continued when he gave up a two-run homer to Steve Pearce that put the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole. in the first inning.
After Mookie Betts dropped to 0 for his last 12 by flying out to left-center on Kershaw’s second pitch, Andrew Benintendi singled on a grounder up the middle. That put on a runner on base for Pearce, and the lefty-killer killed another lefty, lofting a home run over the center field wall.
Kershaw quickly settled down. J.D Martinez grounded out to Max Muncy, the second baseman who thanks to the shift was over where the shortstop would normally be, and Xander Bogaerts struck out to end the inning. But the early deficit in an elimination game could be huge.