Brock Holt

Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports

Red Sox on brink of World Series championship after thrilling comeback victory over Dodgers

John Tomase
October 28, 2018 - 12:03 am

Mookie Betts feeds the homeless, Alex Cora walks on water, and the Red Sox crush souls.

There’s no other way to describe what they did to the Dodgers on Saturday night. It was like something out of Hellraiser. One moment, the Dodgers were cruising to a 4-0 victory and a World Series tied at two games apiece behind a Yasiel Puig homer that registered on the Richter Scale.

The next they were hanging on for dear life after a three-run BOMB from Mitch Moreland and a solo shot by Steve Pearce tied the game in the eighth.

Then came the dagger to the heart, a pinch RBI single from Rafael Devers in the ninth that scored Brock Holt and opened the floodgates as the Red Sox piled on the runs in a 9-6 victory that gives them a 3-1 lead and chance to close things out on Sunday night.

"There's only two teams left in the big leagues right now, and both teams are going to fight till the end," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We did it, they did it, too, until the last inning. Sometimes in October we talk about mechanics and how you feel at the plate and all that, and sometimes it's will. And you will yourself to do great things. And it started very simple. A few good at-bats and then the big swing, and we kept rolling and we didn't stop playing."

This one came out of nowhere. A night earlier, the Dodgers had swung momentum with a marathon 18-inning victory that left the Red Sox facing pitching repercussions in Game 4. The series appeared headed for a tie until the Red Sox, one-hit by starter Rich Hill, exploded against Dodgers relievers Ryan Madson and Kenley Jansen.

With ace Chris Sale delivering a crazed dugout tirade exhorting his teammates to rally, the Red Sox did exactly that, and now David Price will take the ball on Sunday with a chance to close out the series in five games and secure the mantle of greatest team in Red Sox history.

"I've never been on a team that can just get punched right in the face and then come back tomorrow and act like they're totally fine," J.D. Martinez said.

They won this one like so many others, by flushing the previous night’s gut-wrenching loss and delivering body blows followed by haymakers.

The relentless Red Sox simply refuse to yield, and when the story of their 2018 season is written -- perhaps as soon as Sunday night – we will look back at this ruthlessness as their defining characteristic.

They don’t just capitalize on mistakes. They make foes lay awake at night reliving them without mercy.

They don’t just overcome a bad pitch, bad play, bad game. They boomerang them back at your throat.

And they don’t just win. They break you.

They shattered the Dodgers in front of a delirious crowd that arrived with hope and departed in sorrow.

It’s nothing new. They displayed this special skill when they swept four games from the Yankees, the last a walk-off, to clinch the division in August. And it has been front and center all postseason.

The Yankees returned home with hope after taking Game 2 of the ALDS. The Red Sox beat them 16-1. The Astros returned home with hope after splitting the first two games of the ALCS. The Red Sox won three straight in their building and then celebrated on their faces, as well as their Instagrams.

But nothing tops what they did to the Dodgers in Game 4.

L.A. did everything right for six innings. Hill dominated the Red Sox, dropping the top four spots in the order to 0-for-40 over Games 3 and 4. The Dodgers capitalized on Boston’s first mistake, an errant throw from catcher Christian Vazquez on what could’ve been a 3-2-3 double play that instead scored a run.

When Puig followed with a mammoth homer that had hard-luck starter Eduardo Rodriguez slamming his glove on the mound before the ball had even reached the seats, the Dodgers looked firmly in control of the series. The only question was whether the reeling Red Sox could rally to win the final two games in Boston. Then Moreland homered, Pearce homered, and the Red Sox couldn't be stopped.

"We went into the postseason saying we had to get 11 wins, and we've got ten right now," Moreland said. "We've got one more to go. It will be a lot better when we get that 11th one."

How foolish of us to lack faith. The Red Sox won Game 4 because it’s what they’ve done all year. They’ve mastered the sadistic art of the crushing, despairing, anguished defeat.

One more victory, and there will be no more questions, only a coronation.