Despite other glaringly obvious choices for the most valuable player of game three, had it not been for a man who has played on every single American League East team, the series might not be 2-1 in favor of the Red Sox.
Making contributions all over the diamond in just his second postseason ever, 35-year-old Steven Pearce rewrote his personal history while serving as a catalyst that kept the visitors in the game.
It started with his second at-bat in a play that may possibly go down in infamy.
Regardless of whether or not his fly ball actually hit the Crawford Boxes’ scoreboard before going into Tony Kemp’s glove, that was not the play that decided the game. Had it happened before the Red Sox broke their curse, that likely would have been the play that tormented fans forever.
Thanks to Jackie Bradley Jr. however, the game did not come down to a single run (his second career grand slam made the score 8-2).
Anyways, the point about that ball to the wall was that it served as a sign that Pearce was on tonight, and even his manager could tell from his dugout-perspective.
Once Dallas Keuchel left the game in favor of reliever Joe Smith, Pearce left no doubt over whether or not it hit the wall this time, clearing the Boxes to take the lead back for the road team.
The half-inning before, Alex Bregman inflated his on-base percentage with an RBI double to score Jose Altuve to tie the game at two and Sox Manager Alex Cora was especially familiar with the decibel-level in that building.
“They just scored and you could feel the place going nuts, and it's getting loud and louder,” Cora said. “So it's not that he took the crowd out of the game, but it gave us confidence … He just missed one the previous at-bat but that one he barreled and we needed that one right there.”
Not only was it influential in the game, that home run also served as the first time Pearce was granted to touch ‘em all in 50 career postseason at-bats. After the game, he admitted that he had an idea this one might not be coming back.
“It felt great, I'm not going to lie,” Pearce noted. “I knew it was going to leave the yard … I'm just glad it stayed fair. It was really close and timely.”
Other than his contributions at the plate, he did it in the field as previously mentioned, displaying hip mobility physical therapists drool over. Infielders constantly talk about having the confidence to “Throw it anywhere,” and know their first baseman is going to make them look good.
Pearce has done that, and then some, stretching so far off the base to receive the ball before the runner gets there while also holding on for dear life with every last inch of his spikes for the out.
Even to get to this championship series, it was a mind-bending stretch from Pearce at first that was the clinching out that saved not only an overthrow but the entire game and therefore series against the Yankees.
Now his efforts have gotten his childhood-favorite team closer to the ultimate prize.