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World Series Preview: Boston Editon

washingtontimes.com



The Boston Red Sox are set to compete for their 9th World Series championship and their 4th since 2004.  I grew up a Sox fanatic and up until 2004 I thought that I would never ever ever ever see the Red Sox win the championship.  They were in the midst of an 86 year drought and it felt like it would never end.  When it ended in the fall of 2004 it was a feeling like none other.  I wonder if there is an article that looks back on that magical season.  Welp either way, here we are, about to watch the Sox play in the fall classic.  Man, saying that will never get old. 

2018 has been good for this Boston Red Sox team.  After being eliminated in the ALDS each of the last two seasons, Boston won 108 games and has made it to the World Series.  This year has been incredible, no question but in Boston we have become to expect championships.  If the Red Sox can’t win these last four games I think we can all admit we will be disappointed.  On Tuesday the Los Angeles Dodgers, the back to back National League champs, come to town to start a best of seven game series with the Sox.  This Dodgers team is no joke and just like the Yankees and the Astros they are loaded with talent.  Baseball fans around the world are very excited to watch these two franchises face off for the very first time.  Yesterday you read a World Series preview from the perspective of a Dodgers fan.  So you must have known that you were going to get a Red Sox preview.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a Sox fan or a Dodgers fan or heaven forbid a Yankees fan you should check out the WS preview from the other side’s point of view on BSoT’s website. 

Red Sox vs Dodgers…two of the most historic and beloved baseball franchises finally square off for a chance to be named champion.  I am pumped to watch this and I am not the only one.  Old school fans have been waiting for these heavy weights to matchup for so so long and young fans are excited for the Dodgers’ superstars to play at Fenway Park.  This series will not be without fireworks.  You can expect home runs, intense moments, and hopefully some good pitching.  If you like drama in your sporting events I advise you tune in for this World Series.  Just be ready to stay up late. 

Games 3, 4, 5 will be played in Los Angeles and the Red Sox will have to play by the National League rules.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, National League rules are mainly the same as the American League but the biggest difference being that teams cannot use a designated hitter.  JD Martinez mostly plays DH for the Sox and there is no way you can take his bat out of the lineup.  Martinez has anchored this Sox lineup throughout the postseason with a .313 average, 2 home runs, and 9 runs batted in.  So JD is going to play the outfield.  So if Martinez is in the outfield then who sits?  Betts is an MVP candidate so he’s playing, Benintendi has scored 9 runs in this year’s playoffs, and Bradley Jr. is an elite defensive outfielder who has produced clutch hits this postseason.  But one of the killer B’s can’t play the outfield.  Key word being “outfield,” because I think you’ll see Mookie Betts play second base at some point while they are in the National League ballpark.  It is completely unconventional yes, but Alex Cora is just the mad scientist to give it a try.  Betts is a special athlete that used to play the position in the minor leagues so I think he can handle it.  And in today’s game where coaches are preaching launch angles and swinging for the fences there are less ground balls hit per game.  Cora has made all the right moves so far this post season and if you see Betts at second base I think the good fortune will continue. 

A lot hinges on the Red Sox starting rotation.  The Dodgers are going to be sending quality starters to the hill pretty much every night so it is going to be very important for the Sox to match them.  Let’s get one thing straight, Chris Sale is injured.  There has been too much weirdness around his situation, from the flat ground throwing session before the ALDS to the “belly button ring infection.”  Boston is hiding the true severity of his shoulder injury.  Having said all that I think if Sale is going to pitch then he will be good.  Sale wants the ball so badly that he is willing to pitch hurt and I still think he can succeed.  Will he go 9 innings?  Probably not, but he can still give the team 5-6 clean innings.  I expect Sale to be very effective in this series.  He seems like a guy who will thrive when given the chance to compete at the highest level.  After Sale comes David Price and after getting his first career postseason victory he still has a lot to prove.  He will enter the World Series with a playoff ERA of 5.11, that’s not good.  Sometimes it just takes getting over that hill for the first time to really get rolling.  Price didn’t just back his way into that win, he dominated.  He struck out 9 batters in six scoreless innings.  Price is going to feed off that home crowd in game 2.  It’s time for Price to step up and be the pitcher that Red Sox nation has been waiting to see.  Porcello and Eovaldi have been awesome so far in the playoffs.  Porcello brings that edge that the rotation needs and Eovaldi, well, I didn’t know he had it in him but he’s pitching like he wants that big payday in the off season.  As a Red Sox fan I certainly do not mind if Eovaldi uses the postseason as his audition for a mega contract.  I think this Red Sox staff will be ready to square off with the Dodgers.

The World Series is about to kick off and fans still do not have complete faith in the bullpen.  But the weird thing is that it’s not the usual suspects giving the fans heart attacks.  Its Craig Kimbrel and his 7 plus ERA that has me pacing around worrying about the end of games.  Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are all giving the Sox quality innings.  I never thought I’d be saying that as long as Kimbrel doesn’t fully crack at the end of games I think this bullpen will help Boston win its 9th championship in franchise history.  His last outing was very good and like his teammate David Price let’s all hope that he builds off that momentum.  Foulke, Papelbon, and Uehara all were on the mound to close out the World Series, will Kimbrel be next?

Alex Cora has this team playing on a whole other level.  He has instilled a confidence in this club that has carried them all the way to the World Series.  You can see all throughout this roster.  Guys like Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt are responding to their roles in a way that really reflect the attitude of their manager.  This team has been a thrill to watch all year long and you shouldn’t expect anything else from this World Series.  GO SOX!!

Predictions
Winner- Boston Red Sox
Games- Six (Sox close it out in Boston with Price getting the win)
MVP- JD Martinez

P.S. I wrote an article remembering the 2004 World Series winning Red Sox team…check it out.

Follow me on Twitter @Matty_wests1de

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