You shouldn’t take trips to the World Series for granted, especially if you grew up a Red Sox fan any time before 2004.
But since finally breaking through to win that first title in 86 years, the Red Sox have been to the Fall Classic on a somewhat regular basis.
In 2018, it was almost the expectation the Sox would at least reach the World Series. Boston won a club-record 108 regular-season games, and it would have meant nothing without at least a pennant.
The Sox got through the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series in just four games. The Houston Astros, a juggernaut in their own right, ended up providing little resistance, either, as Boston clinched the AL Championship Series in five games.
That series-clinching Game 5 win can be seen Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on NESN. Here are a few things you might have forgotten about that game.
1. All coming up Red Sox
Justin Verlander has established himself as one of the best postseason pitchers in the game, and entering Game 4 against the Red Sox, he was 10-3 with a 2.07 ERA in his most recent 16 playoff appearances. With the season on the line, he had been even better, entering the start with a scoreless streak of 24 innings in elimination games he pitched. If anyone was going to get Houston back into the series, it was going to be Verlander.
Verlander cruised through two innings and seemed to be locked in when he delivered an 0-2 pitch to Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez that sure looked like strike three. The borderline pitch, however, was called a ball, and Martinez was given a second chance. He took full advantage of said chance.
2. Young man, big muscles
The Red Sox took a giant step toward winning the pennant in the sixth inning. An Ian Kinsler single followed a Mitch Moreland wall-scraping double, and Rafael Devers came to the plate with runners on first and third with one out.
Devers wasted no time, swinging at the very first pitch he saw from Verlander, a 98 mph fastball up in the zone and over the inner half of the plate. The third baseman somehow got on top of the pitch and muscled it high and deep to left field. The short porch at Minute Maid Park came back to hurt the Astros, as Devers’ towering shot landed in the first row of the left-field bleachers for a three-run home run that gave the Red Sox a commanding 4-0 lead.
3. Bucking the trend
While Verlander entered Game 5 with a sterling postseason reputation, Red Sox starter David Price was pretty much the opposite. In his most recent 14 playoff appearances, the former Cy Young Award winner was 1-9 with a 5.72 ERA. His teams were 3-11 in those games. And while the Sox bailed him out in Game 2, he still got roughed up, allowing four runs and failing to make it out of the fifth inning.
But things changed for Price starting with Game 5 of the ALCS. The left-hander held the explosive Astros offense at bay, pitching six brilliant innings in which he allowed no runs on just three hits while striking out nine.
“One of the most special days I’ve had on a baseball field,” Price told reporters after the game.
4. Another pennant in the books
With the Red Sox up 4-0 and Price having put forth the effort he did, this thing was all but over. Houston did scratch across a run late, but Boston manager Alex Cora called on some big guns to get his team to the World Series.
After Matt Barnes got into some trouble in the seventh inning, Cora went to Nathan Eovaldi out of the bullpen, just two days after the flame-thrower gave the team six innings in a Game 3 win. Eovaldi came up big again, going 1 1/3 innings, allowing nothing more than a hit.
Craig Kimbrel looked good, too. The closer righted the ship with a clean ninth inning, getting Tony Kemp to fly out to Andrew Benintendi to end the game and the series. The victory sent the Red Sox back to the World Series for the fourth time in 14 years.
Thumbnail photo via Thomas B. Shea/USA TODAY Sports Images