LOS ANGELES – Fenway Park was Steve Pearce’s final stop on his tour of the American League East, a late June trade from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Boston Red Sox enabling him to fulfill his last bit of curiosity within the division.
“I've been playing against these guys for so long,” Pearce says, “that I knew them just playing with them on the field. When you're playing against them for a long time, you don't really know what's going on over there until you get here.
“And it was a very cool feeling for me.”
The mutual feeling was even cooler.
Pearce, long labeled a journeyman, added a much more flattering identifier to his profile on Sunday night: World Series MVP.
His two-run, first-inning home run off Clayton Kershaw launched the Red Sox to a 5-1 victory that clinched their fourth World Series championship since 2004.
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"This has been the funnest year of my life and (manager Alex Cora) is part of it. It was awesome to play for them and I can't wait to see what the future holds," said Pearce, who became the third first baseman to win the award. "We're a bunch of grinders.
"Baseball's a funny game. I'm very blessed to be here right now."
Pearce finished the damage with a towering homer way up the left field pavilion at Dodger Stadium in the top of the eighth inning, capping a coast-to-coast tour de force.
A Game 5 kick-start, a Game 4 kill shot and several huge at-bats earlier in the World Series combined to forge Pearce’s sudden October legend.
He hit an eighth-inning, game-tying home run off Kenley Jansen in Saturday night’s Game 4, and then provided the eventual winning runs with a three-run double an inning later in their 9-6 victory.
He also drew a crucial walk that spurred the Red Sox’s go-ahead rally in Game 2, the grittier sort of contribution that Pearce, 35, became known for in a career that began in 2007 in Pittsburgh before his AL East odyssey began in Baltimore in 2012.
He’s now played for seven teams, a journey that he says shaped him as a ballplayer in his ability to slow the moment when necessary.
Clearly, that skill was on display in the Red Sox’s 4-1 Series triumph, during which he registered four hits in four at-bats – three of them home runs – drew four walks and scored five runs.
“I just think when the crowd's getting into it, everything starts to get loud, it's almost you've got to do less," he says. “And that's my approach, don't try to do too much when you're out there. Just have the same approach and let the pitcher make the mistake.
“I think the longer I've played, you're in these situations all the time, that sometimes you get yourself out and you know that wasn't the right approach you should have had in that situation. And the longer I've played, you kind of step back and, hey, I don't have to do that. Let's just try to do less. And that's really what's been paying off.”
In the process, he did a lot more – and now has the hardware to show for it.
Follow Lacques on Twitter @GabeLacques
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