By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It takes a special team to shake off the sting of losing an 18-inning game in the World Series. It takes a special team to casually shake off a 4-0 deficit on the road in the late innings of a World Series game the very next day.
Well, in case you weren’t aware of it by now, the 2018 Boston Red Sox are a special baseball team. And they’re now just one win away from cementing their place in history.
Staring down the barrel of a 2-2 series tie, the Red Sox scored nine runs after being kept off the scoreboard from the first pitch through a two-out situation in the seventh inning, pulling off a 9-6 victory in Dodger Stadium.
They chipped away, they tied the game, they took a lead, then they blew it open. Here’s exactly how they pulled it off.
TOP 7th, 2 Outs
Dodgers 4, Red Sox 0
The Red Sox were in a bad place after the bottom of the sixth. Alex Cora tried to get too much out of Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed a three-run homer to Yasiel Puig after a Christian Vazquez throwing error had allowed the first run of the game to cross the plate.
The Sox had rallied numerous times before this postseason, but a 4-0 deficit, on the road, while still tired from the 18-inning loss and having absolutely no success against starting pitcher Rich Hill? Through six innings, the Red Sox had just four total base runners all game (one hit, two walks, one hit-by-pitch). Chris Sale was losing his mind in the dugout. This one seemed like the one that could not be done.
That changed in an instant.
Cora called upon Mitch Moreland to hit in the pitcher’s spot. Bogaerts had walked off Hill to start the frame, and Brock Holt walked on four pitches as the only batter to face reliever Scott Alexander.
With two outs, facing Ryan Madson (who has struggled terribly this series), Moreland didn’t wait around. He jumped all over a first-pitch changeup that split the plate, sending it deep — deeeeep — into right field. Puig didn’t even move an inch in right field, as that ball carried 437 feet.
When it came down, a 4-0 Dodgers lead had shrunken to just one run. The Red Sox had life. And we know what happens when these Red Sox have life.
Top 8th, 1 Out
Dodgers 4, Red Sox 3
The home run by Moreland was a thrill, but there was still work to be done. And after Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless seventh, it didn’t take long for the Red Sox to seize the moment in the eighth.
Dave Roberts called upon closer Kenley Jansen to get through the 2-3-4 spots of the Boston order. Jansen retired Andrew Benintendi to start the inning, and all was going according to the Dodgers’ plan.
But Steve Pearce changed it, jumping on a first-pitch cutter and sending it high and deep to left field. This one wasn’t tagged quite as perfectly as Moreland’s, but the end result was the same.
The ball cleared the left field fence. In a flash, this game was tied.
Pearce was acquired in late June by Dave Dombrowski in exchange for minor league infielder Santiago Espinal. After a game-tying homer off the opponent’s closer in the eighth inning of a World Series game on the road? We can go ahead and put the stamp on that one as a win for Boston.
Huge moment, obviously. But again, a 4-4 score doesn’t do anything for anybody. More work was required.
Top 9th, 1 out
Red Sox 4, Dodgers 4
Joe Kelly tiptoed his way through trouble in the bottom of the eighth to keep the score knotted at four apiece. With the game safely in the ninth, Brock Holt stepped to the plate with one out. Down in the count 1-2, Holt put a somewhat defensive swing on a Dylan Floro sinker that was off the plate.
He ended up slapping it perfectly down the third base line.
Holt slid into second base with a double.
Brock Holt was excited.
Huge hit. But — yet again — work remained.
Cora called upon Rafael Devers to pinch-hit for catcher Sandy Leon. Cool as a cucumber, blowing bubbles with his gum in the batter’s box, the freshly turned 22-year-old casually watched two pitches go by for balls. Devers then squared up a 2-0 changeup, sending it back up the middle, allowing Holt to score from second with ease.
For the first time of the entire game, and for the first time in the previous 13 innings of World Series, the Red Sox held a lead. They wouldn’t let it go.
(For those keeping track, the two biggest hits of the game were delivered by pinch hitters. Considering Cora kept Rodriguez in the game too long, these calls marked a nice recovery for the manager.)
Top 9th, 2 outs
Red Sox 5, Dodgers 4
Sure, the Red Sox led. But Craig Kimbrel has been anything but lights out this postseason. Some insurance runs would probably make everybody feel a bit more comfortable.
And who was there to provide that insurance but one Mr. Steve Pearce?
A groundout by Blake Swihart advanced Devers to second, and the Dodgers then decided to intentionally walk Mookie Betts, despite his pronounced struggles at the plate. With two on and two out, Benintendi hit a cue shot down the third-base line and beat Turner’s throw to first by a half-step to load the bases for Pearce.
Roberts put Kenta Maeda into the game to face Pearce. The first baseman swung through a slow breaking ball on the first pitch, so Maeda opted to follow it up with a fastball over the heart of the plate. Bad idea.
Pearce smoked a line drive deep into the right-center field gap, clearing the bases and stretching that one-run lead into a four-run lead.
Xander Bogaerts later hit an RBI single to add yet another run to the lead.
It’s a good thing they did, too, because Kimbrel and Swihart were not at all on the same page in the bottom of the ninth, when Kimbrel served up a two-run homer to Enrique Hernandez with nobody out. Instead of that homer being a walk-off winner, it was a non-factor. Kimbrel got out of the inning, and the Red Sox walked away with a 9-6 win — and a 3-1 lead in the World Series.
From being down four runs in a game where they’re unable to even get a runner to second base through six innings, to putting nine runs on the board and now being one win away from lifting that World Series trophy on Los Angeles’ home field. That’s the type of swing that only a championship team can pull off on this stage. And, well, in case it wasn’t already proven, the Red Sox displayed for the 118th time this season that they are a special baseball team.