LOS ANGELES -- The debate went on for most of the summer: Was Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez the MVP of the Red Sox and/or the American League?:: World Series schedule and results ::With the Red Sox now just a victory away from winning it all, the debate as to
LOS ANGELES -- The debate went on for most of the summer: Was Mookie Betts or J.D. Martinez the MVP of the Red Sox and/or the American League?
:: World Series schedule and results ::
With the Red Sox now just a victory away from winning it all, the debate as to who will be named the MVP of the Fall Classic is far more wide-ranging.
Lost in the shadow of the greatness of Betts and Martinez is just how deep Boston is and how many weapons the team possesses.
That's how the Red Sox won 108 games during the regular season. And that's how they came up with a huge 9-6 win over the Dodgers on Saturday in Game 4 of the World Series.
The heroes who lined up the interview room after the game were Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers, Brock Holt and Joe Kelly. Steve Pearce would have done a news conference as well, but he was too busy doing interviews on the field with countless national television outlets.
Betts and Martinez, meanwhile, were neutralized for the second straight game, combining to go 0-for-8 in Game 4.
What does it say about the Red Sox that they scored nine runs anyway and staged a thrilling comeback?
"That we're talented, and we don't only rely on two guys," said manager Alex Cora. "Brock did a good job. Steve, he was amazing, Mitch with a big swing. We kept putting up good at-bats. They kept fighting. Raffy coming off the bench tonight. Yesterday I pinch-hit for him, and today he pinch-hits. We loved the matchup and he put a good swing, and he made a great play on third base."
After a crushing 18-inning defeat in Game 3, a contest it was one out from winning, Boston was down, 4-0, after six innings in Game 4 and flummoxed by Rich Hill's curveball.
It was easy to envision the World Series being deadlocked at 2-2 and turning it into a best-of-three series.
But then came the first log on the fire in the person of Moreland, who stunned Dodger Stadium with a two-out, three-run, pinch-hit homer to right off Ryan Madson. Suddenly, it was a ballgame, at 4-3.
"Yeah, in that situation, obviously, we kind of stalled out there for a few innings, even going back to last night. It had been a grind," said Moreland. "And any time you come up with a situation like that, you want to make something happen. But we had two guys go up there and build an inning before me, and we kept grinding and kept grinding, and finally gave ourselves an opportunity by putting some guys on base and were able to capitalize and get a good pitch in and put a swing on it."
And from there the momentum swung back heavily in favor of the Red Sox.
"After the home run, I came back to the dugout, and I was in the cage, and I kind of said to one of our coaches, 'I think this is going to be a little spark that we needed,'" Martinez said. "Any time you see stuff like that. ... What was it, 27 innings without scoring a run? Sometimes you just need a spark, and then boom, boom, boom, now the bats come alive. Kind of the law of averages. It's going to swing back your way. I think that's what it did that inning."
For the second straight day, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts asked a lot of closer Kenley Jansen, tasking him with getting six outs and holding a lead. And for the second straight day, Jansen didn't even get out of the eighth with the lead. Jackie Bradley Jr. stunned him with a game-tying homer in Game 3, and this time it was Pearce. After Jansen retired Andrew Benintendi on a soft groundout to first base, Pearce jumped on the first pitch he saw for a 388-foot homer to left to knot it at 4.
"Yeah, obviously Pearcie, he's a beauty, man," said Moreland. "He's come over here and he's done nothing but produce. But he's a great teammate. A good dude. And he fits right into the clubhouse."
By the end of the night, it was hard to remember that the score was actually tied when the ninth started. That was the massive degree to which Boston blew this one open en route to its seventh comeback this season when it trailed by four or more runs.
There were almost too many heroes in the ninth to count. Holt was the igniter with a one-out double down the line in left. You could see the Red Sox were ready to pounce when Holt pumped his fist, a large smile on his face. Then Devers, all of 22 years old, came off the bench and smashed the go-ahead single up the middle.
Pearce then removed all the tension from Game 4 by lining a three-run double to right-center, making him just the third player in Red Sox history to have a homer and many as four RBIs in a World Series game.
You might have heard of the others: Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967, and David Ortiz pulled it off in 2004. Those two were iconic giants who defined those teams.
This team is defined every bit as much by Pearce, Moreland, Game 1 hero Eduardo Nunez, flame-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi and Kelly, who got six huge outs when Game 4 was hanging in the balance.
"I mean, they're great," said Cora. "I love my team. I mean, they're very talented. They understand that it takes nine innings or 18 innings and seven hours and 15 minutes to finish games, but they love to play baseball. They've been doing it since Spring Training. They've been very consistent throughout. And now we're in this position."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.