Boston common: Sox win third World Series since '04
Lackey yields just one, Victorino notches four RBIs, Papi named MVP
BOSTON -- For the entire month of October, the Red Sox kept grinding with the type of tunnel vision that allowed them to prevail in every big situation imaginable.
But during the final chapter -- the one that solidified that their season will be remembered forever -- they finally had a chance to soak it all in. And ditto for their rabid fan base, which was able to cheer on a World Series clincher at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918.
In winning the World Series with a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 6 on Wednesday night, the Red Sox claimed their place in history in emphatic fashion.
By the end of the fourth inning, they led, 6-0, turning the rest of the night into joyous anticipation for the celebratory pile-up of players that occurred once it truly was over.
"To be honest, the game, it was kind of hard for me to keep my emotions down," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "You always want to win in front of your home fans. It didn't happen for that long. It's just special. This whole year, the way it all ended, the way we came back in some of these playoff games, it's just unbelievable to think about."
After once going 86 years without a World Series title, the one the Red Sox clinched Wednesday was their third in the past 10 seasons, the most of any team in the Majors over that span.
The one common thread to all three titles won in the last decade? David Ortiz. Even though the Cards finally elected to pitch around Papi in the clincher, he did more than enough to bring home the World Series MVP.
"You know, winning this World Series is special," said Ortiz. "I think it might be the most special out of all the World Series that I have been part of, to be honest with you."
In an otherwise tense Fall Classic that they trailed, 2-1, after the first three games, manager John Farrell's team finished strong by winning the last three.
The team that started from the bottom -- as in a last-place, 69-win finish in 2012 -- is back on top of the baseball universe.
"This team has got its place in history, and I think as the year went along, the fans really recognized and appreciated the way we played the game," said Farrell. "They saw that there was a connection between each and every guy in our uniform, and I think they identified with that. I know our players thrive on the energy they create. To have it culminate in this, it's truly special."
Shane Victorino got the party started with his first hit of the World Series, a three-run double high off the Green Monster against Cardinals rookie starter Michael Wacha, who was 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in the postseason before struggling in Game 6.
It was a grand return for Victorino, who missed the previous two games with tightness in his back. And it was the second straight series that Victorino broke out of his slump on clinch night. Against the Tigers in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, the outfielder did it with a grand slam.
"To get these kind of moments, it's just what it's all about," Victorino said. "For me, luckily enough, it worked out. I don't ever go up there with the mindset that this is what's going to happen. It just seems to be happening that way. And I'm very fortunate, to be able to come here, come up in that spot again tonight, bases loaded, open the game up a little bit."
John Lackey kept the place buzzing by going 6 2/3 strong innings for the win, his second career World Series clincher. Though he allowed nine hits, Lackey minimized the damage, giving up one run while walking one and striking out five.
"It was awesome," said Lackey. "The guys in the dugout were fired up. The atmosphere and the environment here tonight was unbelievable from the start, from when I went out to the bullpen to when the game started. It was really special to be a part of."
When Lackey won it all with the Angels in 2002, he was just a rookie. This time, he was a veteran who didn't throw a pitch last season after coming off Tommy John surgery.
Much like Lackey's elbow, the Red Sox were reconstructed as a team, one that had unique unity displayed through bearded faces and clutch play that was evident all season on both sides of the ball.
"It's a blast," said Lackey. "It's such a great group of guys. You could tell on the field. We genuinely cared about each other and liked each other and liked to compete together. It ended up being a lot of wins."
While Boston's offense was relatively quiet beyond Ortiz through the first five games, Game 6 was a true team effort. Stephen Drew was 1-for-16 in the World Series before depositing a solo shot into the Red Sox's bullpen in right-center to jump-start a three-run rally in the fourth.
"I'm so happy for Stephen. He was struggling," said first baseman Mike Napoli. "I hit in his hitter's group and talked to him all the time about hitting. He actually told me he was going to hit a home run tonight, and the way he was hitting BP, it was like, he's got a chance."
Napoli and Victorino added RBI singles against Lance Lynn before the inning was through, and Boston was in control with the 6-0 lead.
"In the eighth, when we had three outs left, I looked up in the stands," said Drew. "I know this place is magical. It's been an amazing year. Knowing my brother was here [in 2007] and did the same thing, it was special."
The first fruitful rally of Game 6 came in the bottom of the third, and Jacoby Ellsbury started it with a single to right. When Ellsbury moved to second on a fielder's-choice grounder by Pedroia, the Cards had no interest in letting Ortiz beat them again, so they walked him intentionally. Napoli struck out for the second out, but Wacha made a big misfire when he hit Jonny Gomes on a 1-1 pitch to load the bases.
That set the table for Victorino, who got enough of Wacha's 2-1 fastball to produce the bases-clearing double. As Gomes narrowly beat the throw home, Victorino motored into third while thumping his chest. Meanwhile, Fenway Park roared with approval.
"You saw the emotions," Victorino said. "You saw what I did. And again, no disrespect to anybody, the beating of the chest -- it's just excitement. And I mean no disrespect to the Cardinals. It was just the magnitude of the moment."
There was finally some drama in the seventh, when St. Louis put together a two-out rally against Lackey. Daniel Descalso started it with a single and Matt Carpenter followed with a double. Carlos Beltran finally got his team on the board with an RBI single to make it 6-1.
Farrell came out to get Lackey, but the righty talked the manager into letting him face Matt Holliday. After Lackey walked Holliday to load the bases, he was removed and got a thunderous ovation as he walked off. Lackey doffed his cap to the adoring masses.
"It was nice," Lackey said. "It was my appreciation back to them, thanks for understanding what I've gone through, I guess."
Fenway got loud again when Junichi Tazawa came on and snuffed out the threat, getting Allen Craig on a grounder to first.
When dominant closer Koji Uehara came on for the ninth, all of Fenway Park anticipated the final out. The righty needed just 13 pitches to finish the job, finishing the World Series by striking out Carpenter.
From there, it was pure euphoria -- an emotion that will last right through the World Series parade in the coming days.
"I've never felt anything like that here," Pedroia said. "It's just a special place and we wanted to win so bad here, and it worked out. Obviously we want to win first off. To do it here is unbelievable."