BOSTON (CBS) – More than 38,000 fans paid top dollar to pack themselves inside of Fenway Park on Wednesday night in hopes of seeing the Red Sox win the World Series on their home field for the first time since 1918.
They all got their wish.
In an environment which was frenzied from the first pitch, the Red Sox staked themselves to an early 3-0 lead on a bases-loaded double by Shane Victorino. Lackey allowed just one run in 6 2/3 innings, and the Red Sox were on their way to their eighth World Series title.
The 6-1 win capped off one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports, with the Red Sox going from last place in 2012 to the top of the baseball world in 2013.
The Key Moment
The Cardinals made an announcement in the third inning. It was, simply, “We give up when it comes to trying to retire David Ortiz.”
Michael Wacha intentionally walked the Sox’ DH with Jacoby Ellsbury on second, first base open and one out in the bottom of the third. Considering Ortiz had reached base safely in 16 of his 21 previous plate appearances, it was understandable. Still, it wasn’t the most encouraging message the Cardinals were sending.
Two batters later, following a Mike Napoli strikeout and a pitch that hit Jonny Gomes to load the bases, Shane Victorino stepped to the plate.
The outfielder hadn’t played since Saturday night, and he didn’t swing once in his second-inning walk. Facing a 2-1 count, Victorino turned on a fastball and sent it high and deep to left field. The ball ricocheted off the Green Monster, easily scoring Ellsbury and Ortiz.
Gomes hustled hard from the crack of the bat, and he was able to just beat the tag of Yadier Molina at the plate.
Fenway erupted, the Sox led 3-0, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Other Key Moment
John Lackey nearly had his John Wayne moment when he — for the first time — won an argument with John Farrell to remain in the game with two on and two out in the seventh. Lackey remained on the hill to face Matt Holliday after telling Farrell, “This is my guy.”
Well, Lackey couldn’t quite get his guy, walking Holliday on a full count to load the bases.
On came Junichi Tazawa to face Allen Craig, who was 2-for-3 to that point and had hit a couple of ropes. Tazawa, though, made short work of Craig, getting a grounder to first base. Mike Napoli bobbled it at first, but with the bobbled Craig running down the line, he had plenty of time to flip to Tazawa, who ran perhaps faster than he ever had in his life to cover the bag.
Just like that, the Cardinals’ biggest threat was extinguished, and the Sox didn’t let St. Louis climb back into the game.
This spot is generally reserved for the one player who stands out among the rest. While there are certain candidates for the honor from this Game 6, let’s just name the whole team “The Man.” They won this thing together, as a team.
This one could be debated, but Mike Matheny’s call to intentionally walk David Ortiz in a scoreless third inning sent an awfully poor message about the Cardinals’ belief in their ability to compete in this series.
As previously mentioned, Ortiz had reached base in 16 of his 21 World Series plate appearances, and one of those “failures” was a sacrifice fly. But to have your catcher stand up and call for four balls that early in a tied game is no way to show trust in your rookie starter and no way to inspire your team with confidence.
What followed was a strikeout, a hit by pitch, and a bases-clearing double by Victorino. The Cardinals never recovered.
Would anything have changed if the Cardinals elected to pitch to Ortiz, albeit carefully? Nobody can say for sure, but giving up the free base there, in that spot, in a deciding game of the World Series, was a weak call.
Once the Red Sox dry themselves of the beer and champagne they bathed in at Fenway Park, the only thing left for this season is a rolling rally on the back of duck boats, throughout the city of Boston – a city that’s certainly earned the right to party.
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