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Top moments of the decade #8: Pearce’s momentum swings

The biggest moment in the World Series win for the best baseball team in 20 years.

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Four Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It is now December in the year of our Aceves 2019, which means that everyone who is anyone is doing some sort of content creation to mark the end of the decade. It is horribly unoriginal, which I do not say derisively because I’m doing it too! It’s practically legally obligated! Anyway, I’m going to be counting down the top moments of the decade for the duration of the month. We’ll start with our honorable mentions in which I’ll put down my numbers 11-20 moments of the decade and then after that each of the top ten moments will have their own standalone post. This is all totally subjective (obviously), and it’s also specifically not the best moments. In other words, i’s not all good, though most of it is. Okay, that’s enough, right? I don’t need to explain the concept of a top moments of the decade series, right? You get it.

There’s no doubt the 2018 Red Sox were the best Red Sox team of the 2010s. There is no argument for anyone else. I would argue they are clearly the best MLB team of the decade, too, and the best since 1998. They aren’t, however, as fondly thought of as 2013. That’s a hard bar to clear, though, particularly with the latter squad bringing the city together after the Marathon bombing. It’s hard to compete with that. The 2013 team also didn’t have the air of unbeatability that the 2018 squad did, either. Both teams more or less ran the table in the regular season, but there seemed to be more moments for the 2013 team.

That said, the 2018 Red Sox had some close calls in the postseason. It feels like something that may be forgotten in 10 or 20 or 30 years, because on paper they were as dominant in the playoffs as they were in the regular season. In fact, the October run is what puts them over the top as one of the most accomplished teams of all time. Going up against three 100-win teams in one of the most talented playoff gauntlets ever, they lost three games. One in each series. On paper, it was dominant.

In reality, there were times where it looked like things may not actually go their way. The strongest feeling there may have been in the World Series. Boston took the first two games at Fenway by a combined six runs, heading to Los Angeles with a relatively commanding 2-0 lead. That was followed by the epic Game Three, which of course went 19 innings and ended in a Dodgers win. Now, it is looked at as a blip on the radar en route to a championship. At the time, it was scarier than that.

With the Dodgers now within a game of tying the series, Game Four was huge for Boston. They couldn’t give a team as talented as Los Angeles was the chance to tie this series with all of the momentum in their hands. It was a pitchers duel between Eduardo Rodriguez and Rich Hill until the sixth, where the Dodgers scored four runs. Suddenly it was a 4-0 lead for L.A. while the bats weren’t working for the Red Sox. At that moment in time, it really felt like things were about to collapse for Boston, all on the backs of that horrible Game Three loss.

But then, the Red Sox came back. They got a break as Dave Roberts took Rich Hill out, and Boston jumped on the Dodgers bullpen. With two on and two out, Mitch Moreland went deep and brought Boston to within one.

That’s when Steve Pearce started to win his World Series MVP. In the eighth, the Dodgers still had a 1-0 lead and they had Kenley Jansen on the mound. While not quite the Jansen he had been in his prime, it was still Kenley Jansen. That’s intimidating! Pearce came up with one out after Andrew Benintendi had grounded out, and he jumped on the first pitch. Jansen threw a cutter that stayed on the inner half of the plate and Pearce sent it out just over the left field wall. The result: A fist in the air around first, a now-immortalized point to the dugout around second and momentum back in the hands of the Red Sox. Until that eighth inning, even with Moreland’s home run, it still felt like this series was slipping away. Pearce’s homer made it clear this team really was as special as we thought.

He wasn’t done, either. Rafael Devers was the one to put the Red Sox ahead with an RBI single in the ninth, but once again it was Pearce to put the minds at ease. He’d come up with the bases loaded and two outs in a one-run game. The lead was great, but given how shaky Craig Kimbrel had been all month, it was hard to feel too comfortable with that lead. Pearce made sure to amend that feeling, shooting a double into the right-center field gap. Just like that, the bases were cleared and it was a four-run lead. They’d add another before the inning ended, and that was that.

The Red Sox got their 3-1 series lead and ran away with Game Five, once again thanks to Pearce. He’d hit two homers in that championship-clinching victory and eventually take home the series MVP. I don’t know if Pearce really should have gotten that award. I’d still probably argue in favor of David Price. I also don’t know that it really matters. Maybe Pearce wasn’t statistically the best player of the series, but no one shifted the momentum like Pearce in that Game Four. With one swing, Pearce took all of said momentum from the Dodgers and put it on his back. With his next, he clinched the game and, seemingly, the series. The veteran “unofficially” retired on Monday, and as I said in that post he’s going to be a legend in this city forever. The reason: These two swings.