Posted on October 19, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Boston Red Sox

Image via usatoday.com

All season long, the Boston Red Sox have been the best team in the American League, and now it’s official. The Red Sox won the American League pennant Thursday night, beating the Houston Astros 4-1 to win the ALCS by the same margin. After losing the first game of the series, the Red Sox won the next four, emphatically knocking out the reigning world champions and arguably the biggest hurdle standing between them and a World Series title.

The Red Sox won all three games in the ALCS they played away from home. They did the same thing in the ALDS against the Yankees, winning two games in Yankee Stadium before the series had a chance to return to Boston. After winning a franchise record 108 games during the regular season, the Red Sox are now 7-2 during the postseason, including 5-0 on the road. They now await the winner of the NLCS between the Dodgers and Brewers ahead of the World Series, which begins next week.

“It’s very special for all of us,” said David Price amidst the postgame celebration. “For us to get to (this) point, to do what we did in the regular season, to do what we did against New York in the ALDS and to obviously beat the reigning champs, that was very special for all of us.”

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Price played the role of unlikely hero during the series-clinching game. His postseason struggles have been well-documented, but he stepped up when called upon to start on short rest to replace Chris Sale, who is still recovering after a brief stint in the hospital last weekend. Price threw six shutout innings, giving up just three hits while striking out nine, earning just his third career postseason win in 20 appearances while outdueling Astros ace Justin Verlander, his former Tigers teammate.

“I don’t want to pick battles with the media,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game, “but I heard somebody (Thursday) on TV just blasting David, blasting him, calling him the worst pitcher in the postseason. Yeah, the numbers are there, I know. I don’t listen too much to what’s going on outside, but that one got me. That one got me. … But you know what? I’m happy that David showed up. And tomorrow, we can turn the page and move on to the World Series with David Price.”

Jackie Bradley Jr., another unlikely hero, was named ALCS MVP. Bradley’s offensive performance throughout the regular season was disappointing, but he has made up for it during the postseason. He was just 3 for 15 during the ALCS, but all three hits were massive. He contributed a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a two-run home run in Game 4. Those three hits drove in nine runs, changing the course of the series.

“There’s nobody on this team that I can think of in baseball that deserves it more than Jackie,” said Price. “One, the player that he is. And two, more importantly, the person that he is. He continues to work. He continues to grind.”

By taking care of the Astros in five games, the Red Sox will now have four full days of rest before the World Series gets underway on Tuesday at Fenway Park. Whether they face the Dodgers of Brewers in the Fall Classic, the Red Sox are sure to be heavily favored to win their ninth World Series title in franchise history.

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