After first defeating the hated Yankees, then going on to take the Houston Astros and win the American League pennant, the Boston Red Sox enter the 2018 World Series tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers on a quest for their fourth championship of the 21st century. Not a Sox fan? Don’t sweat it. We’ve got you covered with nine things you should know to sound smart before the first pitch of game 1 (at 8:09 pm on Fox):
1. Winningest team in franchise history
The Red Sox claimed a whopping 108 wins this season to break a 106-year-old franchise record, set in 1912, when Boston defeated the New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants) to claim the club’s second World Series title. The 108 wins ties the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, 1975 Cincinnati Reds, and the 1986 New York Mets for the ninth most wins in league history. Each of those teams won the World Series.
2. 100-win teams in the World Series haven’t been so hot recently
OK, Sox fans. This is bad. Since 2000, 22 teams have won at least 100 games. But besides the 2009 Yankees, the 2016 Chicago Cubs, and the 2017 Houston Astros, 18 of them couldn’t manage a World Series win.
But wait, this is good. Prior to last Thursday, the Red Sox latest American League pennant wins came in 2004, 2007, and 2013. The end results for those three teams? Three World Series titles.
3. The biggest Red Sox hero in the World Series is…a Dodger?
Dave Roberts is the manager of the Dodgers. And if you have only one bit of trivia about the Boston Red Sox, know this one: Roberts is the biggest reason the 2004 team ended the 86-year Curse of the Bambino championship drought.
The Sox were trailing the dreaded Yankees in the American League Championship Series three games to none that year. It was the ninth inning of game 4, the Sox were trailing 4-3, and the best reliever in baseball history, Mariano Rivera, was pitching for the Yankees. The season looked all but over. Then Kevin Millar got on base with a walk, and the rest is history. The speedy Roberts came in to pinch run. He stole second base, safe by barely the length of a fingernail. Bill Mueller singled to drive in Roberts and tie the game 4-4. And David “Big Papi” Ortiz (Hon.’17) hit a home run to win the game.
The Sox never lost again. They beat the Yankees three more times to win the pennant. And then swept the Cardinals to win the World Series. That second base steal is why Dave Roberts will never have to buy a beer in Boston again (yes, even this year).
4. Alex Cora: A rookie at the helm
Boston manager Alex Cora, who celebrated his 43rd birthday with the AL pennant win last Thursday, could become the first rookie manager since Bob Brenly in 2001 to win the World Series.
Cora came to Boston from Houston, where he won a World Series ring last season as the Astros’ bench coach. As a player, he was a journeyman who played on six different teams, including the Red Sox from 2005 to 2008, over his 14-year MLB career.
5. A first-time matchup
As if facing the Yankees in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years wasn’t worthy enough of remark, the Red Sox now face the Los Angeles Dodgers. What’s the big deal?
In the 60 years since the Dodgers relocated to LA, the Red Sox and the Dodgers have combined for 18 division pennants, but this is the first time the two face each other on baseball’s biggest stage. The two franchises technically were World Series opponents back in 1916, but the Dodgers were the Brooklyn Robins then. So that doesn’t count.
6. Returning with vengeance
While the Red Sox are after their first title in five years, the Dodgers (92-71) return to the World Series as reigning runner-up. Last season, led by three-time NL Cy Young Award–winner Clayton Kershaw, LA beat the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs on their way to winning the National League pennant, but lost the big one to the Astros.
7. A pair of Sox competing for the AL MVP race
The historic team naturally has some star power, and leading Boston at bat are Mookie Betts and J. D. Martinez. Only the second Red Sox player to join the 30-30 club (30 home runs and 30 stolen bases), Betts has finished in the top six in the MVP polls the last two seasons.
As for Martinez, the Boston newcomer exploded this season to lead the league with 130 RBIs in his second all-star season. The 30-year-old also hit 43 homers.
8. Sale set to start
After a stomach illness sidelined him for game 5 against Houston, Boston’s ace Chris Sale is set to start in Game 1 of the World Series. A candidate for the Cy Young Award, the seven-time all-star finished second in wins above replacement (6.9) and third in strikeouts (237) in the American League.
9. The bullpen
While Sale is one of the league’s top pitchers, the Boston bullpen has doubters everywhere. Pitching is widely regarded as the team’s weakest link, and occasionally during the playoffs starters had to step in as relievers. If nothing else, the bullpen will keep your heart rate up into the ninth inning (and beyond if necessary).
Game 1 of the 2018 World Series begins at Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, on Tuesday, October 23, at 8:09 pm. Game 2 will be on Wednesday, also at Fenway Park at 8:09 pm. There will be no changes to MBTA service during the World Series. Transit police warns fans to be wary of purchasing counterfeit tickets.
Free campus viewing parties for students will be held every night of the series, starting at 8 pm: GSU, 775 Comm Ave.; BU Central, GSU garden level; Towers Franklin Lounge, 140 Bay State Rd.; Rhett’s West, 273 Babcock St.; Buick Street Market, 10 Buick St., and South Campus Lounge, 520 Park Dr. Food and refreshments will be served. The viewing party at the Fuller’s BU Pub is open to students 21 and older. Food and drinks are available for purchase.
Note: On home game nights, Brookline Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from Kenmore Square to Park Drive, starting at 6 pm.