Baseball fans across the New England region are headed into the weekend filled with elation after the Boston Red Sox secured their first World Series berth in five years. The opportunity was gained via a 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday, October 18.
The MLB game day box score cites Boston as having put up the contest’s initial run in the 3rd inning via a J.D. Martinez solo shot off of Justin Verlander. Verlander would settle in and coast through the two proceeding innings, but to his misfortune, a red-hot Rafael Devers took him deep for a three-run homer in the sixth. Meanwhile, David Price was putting up scoreless inning after scoreless inning to subvert any chance of a comeback on the other side of the ball.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. may have only contributed three hits throughout the series, but they proved to be clutch hits that helped the Red Sox rebound from a Game 1 loss — achieving wins in each of the three games that followed. Although he’d go hitless in the final contest against Houston — and the stats sheet ultimately displayed him finishing up with the lowest batting average of any position player at.200 — Bradley Jr.’s play was in fact viewed as so vital that it earned him honors as ALCS MVP.
Yahoo Sports reports that it was Bradley Jr.’s bases-clearing double that had put his team ahead in the second game, followed by a grand slam off of his bat that capped off a blow out in Boston’s favor the next night. In Game 4, the heroics would only continue as the six-year veteran launched a two-run homer to give him nine RBIs in the series. It also put coach Alex Cora’s squad in position to bring the city its 14th American League pennant.
“There’s nobody on this team that I can think of in baseball that deserves it more than Jackie. Just, one, the player that he is and, two, more importantly, the person that he is. He continues to work. He continues to grind,” ABC quotes Red Sox pitcher David Price as having stated to media figures after the game.
“He continues to push forward through everything that he has to go through. Watching him line out, hitting balls 100-plus miles an hour, routinely this year and last year, to see him get that MVP award, to get those big hits, I’m so pumped for him,” Price continued on to say.
Price’s comments commending Bradley Jr.’s contributions were certainly appropriate in the grand scheme of things, but there was no doubt that he, himself, was the man of the hour. In Verlander, Price out-dueled one of history’s most prolific postseason pitchers to give Boston a chance to once again raise the Commissioner’s Trophy. It was a shot at redemption for a once-elite veteran — who in 11 previous postseason starts had disappointed to the tune of a 0-9 record.
Price would strike out nine while only allowing three hits through six innings. The fact that he walked none and was able to get by on 93 pitches are signs that point to the 33-year-old being focused heading into the World Series, which is set to kick off on Tuesday, October 23.
It is unclear as yet whether the Red Sox will face the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Milwaukee Brewers.