The Boston Red Sox went the last 82 years of the 20th century without a World Series championship. After winning three rings in the last 10 seasons, these Red Sox may be cementing their status as the team of the 21st Century.
Shane Victorino drove in four runs and John Lackey turned in 6.2 strong innings, as the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, at Fenway Park to win Game 6 and capture the 2013 World Series.
As noted by MLB's Twitter feed, these Red Sox wasted no time moving straight to the champagne celebration:
When the Red Sox last dispatched the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, they did so in a sweep and celebrated before a dejected crowd at Busch Stadium.
This time around, things were different. With Game 3's controversial obstruction call putting the Red Sox down 2-1 in the series and placing the club under significant pressure, strong was perhaps the only way to describe this Boston team. The boys from Beantown battled back, winning the next three games.
And finally, for the first time since before Babe Ruth wore pinstripes, Boston fans got to witness their team clinching the Fall Classic on their home turf. The Red Sox are now one of four teams in MLB history to win the championship eight or more times, joining the Yankees, Cardinals and Athletics.
David Ortiz, the one constant amid the hundreds of changes since that 2004 World Series, held the grin of a child as he charged toward closer Koji Uehara after he recorded the final out of the game.
Boston's comeback effort would not have happened without Ortiz, his .688 batting average and .760 on-base percentage both being the second-best in World Series history. The 19 times he reached base in the series is second behind only Barry Bonds and led to there being no question about who would win the MVP award.
After the game, the feeling of the moment was not lost on the 37-year-old slugger, per Denver Post reporter Troy Renck
While Ortiz got on base four times on Wednesday night, he did so without getting a hit. The Cardinals made a concerted effort to keep Big Papi from beating them, intentionally walking him three times and pitching around him another.
Luckily, heroes were not in short order for Boston.
Victorino was chief among them. It was his third-inning double that gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead off of St. Louis starter Michael Wacha, who had been nearly sterling up to that point in the playoffs.
The 22-year-old rookie Wacha, so brilliant in St. Louis' run up to the World Series, seemed to finally collapse under the weight of expectations. He came out of the dugout wild, struggling with command and saw his pitch count skyrocket. Though he got into and out of trouble in the first two innings, it seemed like only a matter of time before Boston would start to take advantage.
And take advantage they did. Victorino's double was preceded by a Jacoby Ellsbury single, an intentional walk to Ortiz and a hit-by-pitch to Jonny Gomes. In the fourth, things didn't get much better for Wacha as Stephen Drew led off with a solo home run. Ellsbury then doubled, and Ortiz was again intentionally walked, which put an end to Wacha's night.
Ellsbury and Ortiz scored on singles from Mike Napoli and Victorino, respectively, bringing the score to 6-0. Both singles came off of Lance Lynn, who was brought in to replace Wacha. The starter ended up being charged with six runs over 3.2 innings on Wednesday.
With his offense giving him a six-run cushion through four innings, Lackey was given more than enough room to go to work. The right-hander battled through his own troubles, allowing runners into scoring position on several occasions and getting peppered for a series of line-drive hits, but always managed to work his way out of jams.
By the time St. Louis finally got to him in the seventh, the game was out of hand. Carlos Beltran's RBI single made the score 6-1. A walk to load the bases with two outs sent Lackey to the showers. But Junichi Tazawa ended that threat by getting Allen Craig to ground out to first base.
It was the last time the Cardinals saw a base runner get past first.
Before a raucous Fenway crowd itching for triumph, the Red Sox finished off a journey that actually began last August. It was then when Boston dumped more than $250 million in salary off on the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing them to sign many of this team's top contributors.
The 2012 result was the Red Sox having their worst record since 1965. A year later, and it's safe to say that gamble paid off.
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Matt Carpenter 2B||B+|
|Carlos Beltran RF||C+|
|Matt Holliday LF||C-|
|Allen Craig DH||B-|
|Yadier Molina C||C+|
|Matt Adams 1B||F|
|David Freese 3B||F|
|Jon Jay CF||C|
|Daniel Descalso SS||C+|
|Michael Wacha SP||F|
|Lance Lynn RP||F|
|Seth Maness RP||B|
|Kevin Siegrist RP||B|
|Carlos Martinez RP||B|
|Randy Choate RP||B-|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Jacoby Ellsbury CF||B+|
|Dustin Pedroia 2B||D|
|David Ortiz DH||B-|
|Mike Napoli 1B||C+|
|Jonny Gomes LF||C+|
|S Victorino RF||A|
|X Bogaerts 3B||F|
|S Drew SS||B|
|D Ross C||D|
|John Lackey SP||B+|
|Junichi Tazawa RP||B+|
|Brandon Workman RP||B|
|Koji Uehara RP||B|
Co-Players of the Game: John Lackey, Shane Victorino (Boston Red Sox)
It's indisputable that this was David Ortiz's series. But with the Cardinals doing everything in their power to not let Big Papi beat them, Boston needed another star to carry the offensive load.
Victorino was more than happy to oblige. Hitless in his first eight World Series at bats and battling through a back injury that kept him out of Games 4 and 5, Victorino belted arguably the game's most important hit in the third inning. His three-run double opened up the floodgates against Wacha, who had gutted through his first two frames despite getting in trouble.
When Victorino singled and drove in another run one inning later, capping off a triumphant two innings that allowed Lackey to do some grinding of his own.
Lackey, the recipient of a much-maligned $82.5 million contract three years ago, may have earned every penny in these playoffs. While his outings are rarely the prettiest gems and often involve him battling out of runners-on situations, it invariably worked for him this postseason. He recorded wins in each of Boston's three playoff series, each time defeating teams' aces (Justin Verlander, David Price) or pseudo-aces (Wacha).
These were the types of moments Boston hoped it was signing Lackey for prior to the 2010 season. It may have taken longer than both parties expected, but now the Red Sox are holding the World Series title and Lackey is a major reason why.
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