Through six innings Saturday night, the Boston Red Sox looked dead, resigned to allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to even the World Series at two games apiece.
Boston trailed 4-0 entering the seventh inning of Game 4, still just hours removed from a crushing loss in the longest game in postseason history.
But then the Red Sox did what they’ve done all season: fight back.
Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer in the seventh, Steve Pearce hit a solo shot in the eighth and Boston used a five-run rally in the ninth to emerge with a 9-6 victory at Dodger Stadium. The Red Sox now are one win away from a World Series championship.
So, what brought Boston back from the dead? Was it Chris Sale’s passionate speech in the dugout? Was it the Dodgers choking? Or was it simply a talented, relentless Red Sox team finally breaking through?
Well, it probably was a combination of all three.
“My english is very limited, so I didn’t understand what he was saying,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Sale’s fiery outburst. “We felt like we had no energy … it had to do with (Dodgers starter) Rich Hill, the way he was throwing the ball.
” … One thing about our team, we keep playing. It’s been like that the whole time. We know that in the last third of the game we’ve been really good — throughout the season, in the playoffs. Mitch with the big swing, and that got us going.”
People have a tendency to over-analyze teams and players, both when they’re struggling and when they’re thriving. Be it analytics, strategy or execution, there’s always an excuse or an explanation for everything.
Sometimes, however, it just comes down to who wants it more.
“Sometimes in October we talk about mechanics, how you feel at the plate and all that,” Cora said. “Sometimes it’s will. You will yourself to do great things. It started very simple: a few good at-bats, and then the big swing and we kept rolling. And we didn’t stop playing.
” … I love my team.”
Here are some other notes from Red Sox -Dodgers Game 4:
— The Dodgers did something Saturday night that they hadn’t done all season. Check out this wild stat from ESPN’s Sarah Langs:
— Cora said after the game that David Price will start in Sunday night’s Game 5. Chris Sale previously was scheduled to start. Cora made sure to note that Sale is “fine” and will start a Game 6 if necessary. He also said the team is rolling with Price because they believe he’s a good fit in a National League park.
— Nathan Eovaldi’s legendary Game 3 performance came in a losing effort, but it might have played a roll in Boston’s comeback Saturday night.
— Cora elected to keep starter Eduardo Rodriguez in the game in the sixth inning, despite the lefty showing noticeable fatigue. Rodriguez held the Dodgers scoreless through five innings, but gave up four in what appeared to be a back-breaking inning at the time.
“I pushed E-Rod too hard,” Cora said. “I had (Matt) Barnes ready, I was kicking myself for a few innings.”
— Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts went a combined 1-for-30 in Games 3 and 4.