Alex Cora, the manager with the golden touch, knows the principal reason why the Boston Red Sox are world champions.

“It wasn’t as easy as what people think, but it starts with talent,” Cora said after Boston beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 on Sunday night to win the World Series in five games.

A combination of talent and execution. Cora used players in different roles, but he had those players and they performed.

The Dodgers were a team worthy of the National League pennant but not as good their AL counterparts. Los Angeles Manager Dave Roberts can be criticized for moves, but it was his players that couldn’t keep up.

Roberts was asked if blowing a 4-0 lead in Game 4 gave Boston momentum in the series.

“Ultimately that was a very good ballclub over there. And a lot of times you make your own breaks and you’ve still got to go out there and perform,” he said. “And to their credit, when we gave them opportunities they got big hits and we didn’t. That’s baseball.”

Sunday’s game proved an example of talent and execution. The game featured the two highest-paid pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw and David Price, both of whom have had their postseason problems.

Kershaw’s trouble began with his fifth pitch. He retired Mookie Betts, flying out on an 0-1 fastball. Then Kershaw got ahead of Andrew Benintendi 0-2 and came with a slider. It hung too much and Benintendi reached down to get it, singling to center field. Steve Pearce followed with a two-run homer.

Price allowed a first-pitch home run to David Freese, but that was all for the Dodgers. Price gave up a second-inning single to Yasiel Puig. In the third, right fielder J.D. Martinez lost track of a Freese fly ball that dropped for a one-out triple. But Price got a groundout and flyout, starting a string of 14 straight retired Dodgers.

“David gave up one in the first and shut them down after that,” Kershaw said. “I tried to keep it at two as best I could. And then the homers got to me there at the end. Not a whole lot of adjustment, just some bad pitches in there.”

Betts and Martinez homered off Kershaw, in the sixth and seventh innings. Then Pearce cemented his Series MVP award with a second homer, off reliever Pedro Baez.

Pearce was a midseason acquisition, as was right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. It marked the finishing touches of a roster. Team president Dave Dombrowski took a talent base created by previous general manager Ben Cherington and added more star power, with Price, starter Chris Sale, reliever Craig Kimbrel and Martinez.

“Dave did an outstanding job,” said Cora, who was also a Dombrowski hire.

Cora handed out praise to the whole organization. He seemed especially happy for Price, who had never won a postseason start. Price flopped in the divisional series and was so-so in his first ALCS start. But then Price won three starts – two on three days’ rest – while also helping in the bullpen.

“He’s a leader,” Cora said. “I’m just happy that now he’s a world champ … People don’t have to bring up (playoff failures) anymore.”

Price’s popularity sunk last year. Not only were his performances in question, with concerns about his elbow (with visits to Dr. James Andrews), but how he handled the media. He got in a dig Sunday night when asked about his durability in the Series – considering that he started two games, relieved in Game 3, and was warming up in the bullpen in Game 4. A reporter asked, “What did you learn about yourself along the way?”

“Nothing,” Price said. “I told you guys, Dr. Andrews said I have a special elbow. I’m sure you guys ridiculed me and mocked me and made fun of me, and did everything that you guys do. I wasn’t lying when he told me that, and now you guys see that.”

As Cora pointed out, Price is considered a leader in the clubhouse. When asked what his teammates meant to him, Price got emotional, wiping his eyes on his shirt.

“A lot,” Price said, composing himself. “I mean, this is a game we get to play. It’s the relationships that you make while you do this, while you play this game that – that’s what makes this game so special.”

And Sunday night was a special way to end a special season.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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