— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 29, 2018
1. It’s better to be lucky than good, but Alex Cora was both in October and during the World Series. From starting Nathan Eovaldi in Game 3 of the ALDS in Yankee Stadium, to sticking with David Price in the ALCS and pinch hitting Eduardo Nunez in Game 1 of the World Series, Cora could do no wrong. There was, however, a brief break to Cora’s heater when the World Series shifted to LA.
The first 24 innings in LA weren’t great for Cora. There was no way that Cora could have predicted that Game 3 would go 18 innings, but it felt like he seriously mismanaged the pitching staff that night. The team went to sleep without naming a starter for Game 4 and it felt like the use of the “rover” had finally caught up with them.
Eduardo Rodriguez pitched well in Game 4, but it seemed that Cora got greedy and left him too long. The Red Sox found themselves down 4-0, and it looked like the series was going to have to go back to Boston. Then Cora and the Red Sox caught some breaks. Dave Roberts made some questionable pitching moves of his own, Mitch Moreland got the offense going, Steve Pearce tied up Game 4 and the rest is history.
2. Steve Pearce is the modern day Bernie Carbo. If Game 3 of the 2018 World Series evoked memories of Game 6 in 1986, Game 4 evoked memories Game 6 in 1975. I watched the Red Sox Home Run Heroes video enough times as a kid to belt out Joe Garagiola’s call of Carbo’s home run as soon as Pearce hit his.
We’re tied up!
Steve Pearce goes yard to tie the game in the 8th! pic.twitter.com/Nk62gKCTxf
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 28, 2018
3. Nathan Eovaldi was Boston’s most reliable pitcher all month. In his seventh big-league season, he was spectacular in his first postseason. It’s a shame he had to take the loss in Game 3 of the World Series. Had the Red Sox found a way to win that game, a serious case could have been made for Eovaldi to be the series MVP. Still, Eovaldi will get his ring and a hopefully a nine-figure deal this winter. The Red Sox don’t hoist the commissioner’s trophy without him this month.
4. It was very interesting to see Chris Sale close out Game 5 instead of closer Craig Kimbrel. It’s entirely possible that Kimbrel was simply out of gas, having thrown 56 pitches over the last two nights. However, it could also be possible that Cora had seen enough of the high-wire act.
Kimbrel recorded six postseason saves and finished eight of Boston’s 11 postseason victories. He didn’t blow a save or lose a game but he looked very shaky at times, allowing at least a run in his first four postseason appearances. After that, he did settle down to retire 13 of the next 16 batters he faced without allowing a run. But with a five-run lead in Game 4 of the World Series, he gave up a two-run bomb before shutting the door on the Dodgers.
The only Red Sox victories Kimbrel didn’t finish were non-save situations, but he still finished out two World Series games that weren’t save situations. Of course Cora could have just been trying to slam the door in Game 5, but it’s noteworthy that he didn’t think his closer was the man for that job. I don’t think we’ll seeing Kimbrel in a Red Sox uniform next season.
5. The 2018 Boston Red Sox team is the best Red Sox team of all time and the 2018 World Series was the most exciting World Series they’ve played this century.
The 2004 World Series was akin to the 1980 US Olympic hockey team beating Finland in the gold medal game. They did not trail for a single inning that entire series and there was not much drama. The 2007 team was a well-oiled machine, but it was impossible to top the ride from 2004. The 2013 World Series went six games and that team meant a ton to the city, but there weren’t too many guys on that team that stuck around in Boston for much longer.
The 2018 team was loaded with homegrown talent and guys that should be in Boston for years to come. The 2007 team came the closest to repeating, getting to Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS, but the 2018 team has the best chance of repeating of any Red Sox champion this century.