The Red Sox season is in the books, and has been all week. The celebration is over, the parade is over, and free agency officially kicks off tomorrow. It’s not time to let this run go — you never totally let World Series runs go — but it’s time to at least split our focus between 2018 and 2019. With that in mind, now that I’ve had some time to let things sink in a bit, it’s time to go back through the year and look at the best moments.
A few notes before we begin: For one thing, I tried not to lean too heavily on postseason stuff. Those were obviously the first to come to mind, both because the moment was greater and also it was more recent. I ended up with a 6/4 split in favor of the regular season. The other thing is that I am listing these in chronological order. I had a hard enough time just picking ten moments. I’m not ranking them and you can’t make me.
1. A six-run eighth leads Boston to comeback victory (4/8)
If there was a moment early in the year in which we got a hint that we were watching something special with this team it was on April 8th. This is the first time they got a “This Team” out of me, I believe. To set the stage, Boston had entered the game on a seven-game win streak, but it appeared to be ending in that game. Eduardo Rodriguez was ineffective, and the bullpen couldn’t keep the game close. The Red Sox headed in to the bottom of the eighth trailing by five, and the 7-2 score remained with two outs on the board. Then, they rallied. Mitch Moreland doubled, Eduardo Núñez singled, Rafael Devers doubled, Christian Vazquez singled, Mookie Betts singles, Andrew Benintendi doubled. Just like that, six runs were on the board, and the Red Sox had a lead. Craig Kimbrel would hold it, and Boston won their eighth straight. It was incredible. They’d win one more to extend the streak to nine before finally losing their second game of the year.
2. The Fight (4/11)
In fact, that second loss of the year is included on this list! Really, you can’t talk about the 2018 Red Sox season without talking about the fight. We know what happened by now. Tyler Austin made a questionable slide into second base and the benches cleared, but nothing much happened. Then, Joe Kelly drilled Austin, the Yankees infielder wasn’t thrilled about it, Kelly asked Austin for a conversation on the mound and Austin obliged. I said at the time and will say again that this stuff is complicated to me. By and large, the stuff leading to these fights are dumb and the game probably doesn’t need it. But when the actual fights start my guard lets down and I enjoy it just like everyone else. Whether you like the fight or not, this was an undeniable top moment of the year, at least in terms of memorability. It made Joe Kelly a legend, sparked “Joe Kelly Fight Club” T-Shirts that are being worn by at least 5% of Bostonians at any given time. More than anything, though, it really emphasized that Red Sox-Yankees is back, and it’s back to stay.
3. Rick Porcello’s Bases-Clearing Double (7/2)
I didn’t miss many of Boston’s 162 games this regular season, so of course one of the top six moments of the year occurred in one of them. I am a staunch believer that pitchers hitting is hot garbage and the National League should adopt the DH rule. That said, sometimes, good things happen in bad situations. This happened on July 2. Boston had a tall task ahead of them heading into this game, facing one of the best pitchers in the world in Max Scherzer and a desperate Nationals team holding on to contention hopes. Rick Porcello pitched a great game that night, but the real story was the pitcher ripping a bases-clearing, three-run double off perhaps the greatest pitcher in the world. It was a massive play in what ended up being a 4-3 victory for the Red Sox.
4. Mookie’s Slam of J.A. Happ (7/12)
I know I said I wasn’t going to rank these, and I’m still not except to say that this was the top moment of the regular season. This is the one I’m going to remember years from now, which is wild because in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that consequential. It was a random game before the All-Star break against a non-contender in the Blue Jays. They were, however, going up against a guy in J.A. Happ who had traditionally owned them, and would eventually be sent to the Yankees in a deadline deal. Anyway, Boston was getting shut down again until the fourth when some shaky defense gave the Sox one run and had the bases loaded with two outs for Mookie Betts. What happened there was as thrilling of an at bat I can remember in a non-postseason situation. The soon-to-be AL MVP put together one of the most impressive at bats I can remember, fouling off pitch after pitch before finally getting to number 13. Happ didn’t even really make a mistake on this one, but Betts went down, got it and sent it over everything in left field for a grand slam. Fenway exploded, and Betts showed as much on-field emotion as we’ve seen. The Red Sox would win that game 6-4.
5. Andrew Benintendi’s walkoff to complete comeback over the Yankees
I won’t go too into detail here, because I wrote an entire post about this weekend that you can read here. Really, that whole weekend should be a moment, but I’m trying to nail it down to more specifics here. So, we’ll go with the final moment of the four-game set, one that finished off an improbable comeback to finish off an improbable sweep. Like I said in the post, this sweep was the moment you knew this team was certainly getting the division, and if you didn’t know by then you knew in that moment that this team was special.
6. Brandon Phillips has his moment in the sun (9/5)
This was absolutely bananas, and it was so crazy that people were starting to argue for Brandon Phillips’ presence on the postseason roster for this game alone. To be fair, he was excellent for the Red Sox in this wild comeback, but suggesting his presence on the postseason roster was much wilder. Anyway, this game was sick. Boston started the day in Atlanta with a marginally normal lineup, but when the Braves took a 7-1 lead in the fifth the bench started to empty. Remember, the Sox had basically wrapped up the division, and this was a getaway day, so rest was of the utmost important. Still, it seemed they were conceding the game with half of it remaining. Wrong! The bench put together an amazing eighth-inning rally to tie the game at seven, but then the Braves took the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning. It felt like the game, but Phillips had other ideas. He demolished a two-run, go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth, and the Red Sox held on for the win. It didn’t get more improbable than that win.
7. Brock Holt’s home run to complete the cycle (ALDS Game 3)
I wanted to pick to pick one moment from each of the first two rounds and two from the World Series, and that was harder than I expected. Ultimately, Game Three of the ALDS was a cathartic experience, and Brock Holt’s performance in that game was easily the best part. The glue-guy in the Red Sox clubhouse, and one of the fan favorites, proved that he’s also a pretty good baseball player. After Ian Kinsler got the start in the first two games of the series, Holt got the call in Game Three and it was one of Alex Cora’s best moves of the postseason. With a big home run in the ninth to wrap up an absolute blowout in Yankee Stadium, Holt became the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in a postseason game. That is amazing enough, but that it came with fans and media at their lowest point following the Game Two loss made it that much sweeter.
8. The Catch (ALCS Game 4)
Are we allowed to call this The Catch? Probably not, but I’m going to do it anyway. Sue me! This entire game was, objectively speaking, the best of the Red Sox playoff run. It was an instant classic with moment after moment, but as a Sox fan the catch to seal the victory tops it all. This game, as you probably recall, was an absolute rollercoaster. The early lead, the fan interference, the mid-game swoon that put Houston on top, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s home run to take the lead back. Then, Craig Kimbrel did what he did all postseason, and he was on the brink of blowing the game and allowing the Astros to tie the series back up. Houston had two outs, but the bases were loaded and they had their best hitter at the plate against a pitcher with no semblance of command. And Alex Bregman looked like he at least tied the game with a flare to left field before Andrew Benintendi made the catch of his life. I’m pretty sure I died for a second while that ball was in the air.
9. Steve Pearce ties it up (World Series Game Four)
The entire comeback in Game Four of the World Series was incredible to watch. In fact, on our latest episode of the podcast (rate and subscribe, please!) a listener asked the moment we knew the Red Sox were going to win the World Series. After an initial answer which made clear that I apparently didn’t understand the question, I decided on this home run. Not long before Pearce’s dinger, it looked like the Dodgers had a clear path to tying the series with all of the momentum. Some may argue that Mitch Moreland’s three-run shot the inning before was bigger, and I wouldn’t argue too hard. Maybe it’s that Pearce won MVP that makes this more memorable, but the tying shot is the one that sticks with me.
10. The Last Out (World Series Game 5)
I’m going to go out on a limb and say confidently that this was the best moment of the year. I mean, the Red Sox won the damn World Series!