And the Red Sox didn’t have to fly the trophy home. For the first time since Babe Ruth’s team back in 1918, Boston won the title at Fenway Park. The 101-year-old ballpark, oldest in the majors, was packed with 38,447 singing, shouting fans anticipating a celebration 95 years in the making.
“Maybe they won’t have to go another 95 years,” said John Farrell, a champion in his first season as Boston’s manager.
Shane Victorino, symbolic of the resilient Red Sox, returned from a stiff back and got Boston started with a three-run double off sensation Michael Wacha.
John Lackey became the first pitcher to start and win a World Series clincher for two different teams, allowing one run over six 2–3 innings 11 years after his Game 7 victory as an Angels rookie in 2002.
With fans roaring on every pitch and cameras flashing, Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out. The Japanese pitcher jumped into the arms of catcher David Ross while Red Sox players rushed from the dugout and bullpen as the Boston theme “Dirty Water” played over loud speakers.
“We have a lot of players with heart. We probably don’t have the talent that we had in ’07 and ’04, but we have guys that are capable [of staying] focused and do the little things,” said Ortiz, the Series Most Valuable Player.
There wasn’t the comeback charm of the 2004 team that swept St. Louis to end an 86-year title drought. There wasn’t that cool efficiency of the 2007 team that swept Colorado.
This time, they were “Boston Strong”—playing for a city shaken by the marathon bombings in April.
“This is for you, Boston. You guys deserve it,” Ortiz told the crowd. “We’ve been through a lot this year and this is for all of you and all those families who struggled.”
After late-season slumps in 2010 and 2011, the embarrassing revelations of a chicken-and-beer clubhouse culture that contributed to the departure of manager Terry Francona, and the daily tumult of Bobby Valentine’s one-year flop, these Red Sox needed to regain support.
Ortiz, the only player remaining from the 2004 champions, had himself a Babe Ruth-style World Series. He batted .688 (11 for 16) with two homers, six RBIs and eight walks—including four in the finale—for a .760 on-base percentage in 25 plate appearances.
Even slumping Stephen Drew delivered a big hit in Game 6, sending Wacha’s first pitch of the fourth into the right-center bullpen.
By the time the inning was over, RBI singles by Mike Napoli and Victorino had made it 6–0, and the Red Sox were on their way.
Red Sox fans bid up the average ticket price to over USD 1,000 on the resale market and some prime locations went for more than USD 10,000 each. Nearly all the Boston fans stood in place for 30 minutes after the final out to view the presentation of the trophy and MVP award.
“It was an awesome atmosphere here tonight,” Lackey said.
The win capped an emotional season for the Red Sox, one heavy with the memory of the events that unfolded on Patriots Day, when three people were killed and more than 260 wounded in bombing attacks at the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox wore “Boston Strong” logos on their left sleeves, erected a large emblem on the Green Monster wall at Fenway and moved the logo into the center-field grass as a constant reminder.
“There’s I think a civil responsibility that we have wearing this uniform,” Farrell said. “And it became a connection initially, the way our guys reached out to individuals or to hospital visits. And it continued to build throughout the course of the season. I think our fans, they got to a point where they appreciated the way we played the game, how they cared for one another. And in return they gave these guys an incredible amount of energy to thrive on in this ballpark.”
Among the players blamed for the indifferent culture at the end of the Francona years, Lackey took the mound two days short of the second anniversary of his elbow surgery and got his first Series win since the 2002 clincher. He pitched a shutout ball into the seventh, when Carlos Beltran’s RBI single ended the Cardinals’ slump with runners in scoring position at 0 for 14.
Junichi Tazawa came in with the bases loaded and retired Allen Craig on an inning-ending grounder to first. Brandon Workman followed in the eighth and Uehara finished.
St. Louis had been seeking its second title in three seasons, but the Cardinals sputtered after arriving in Boston late Tuesday following a seven-hour flight delay caused by mechanical problems.
Lackey escaped a two-on, none-out jam in the second when he retired Matt Adams and David Freese on flyouts and, after a wild pitch, struck out Jon Jay. Boston wasted a similar threat in the bottom half, then went ahead on the third.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled leading off and took second on Pedroia’s grounder. Ortiz was intentionally walked, Napoli struck out and Gomes was hit above the left elbow with a pitch, loading the bases.
Victorino had been 0 for 10 in the Series and missed the previous two games with a bad back.
Dropped from second to sixth in the batting order, he took two balls and a called strike, then turned on a 93 mph fastball and sent it high off the 37-foot-high wall in left.
Victorino, pumped with emotion, went to third on the throw and pounded his chest with both fists three times.
“Hey, I missed two games. It’s time to shine,” Victorino said.
After Drew’s homer, Lance Lynn relieved Wacha with two on, and RBI singles by Napoli and Victorino boosted Boston’s lead to 6-0. Wacha entered 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his postseason career but gave up six runs, five hits and four walks in 3 2-3 innings, the shortest start of the 22-year-old’s big league career.
“I just made too many mistakes,” Wacha said. “It doesn’t matter how hard you’re throwing if you can’t locate it.”
Boston was a 30-1 underdog to win the World Series last winter but joined the 1991 Minnesota Twins as the only teams to win titles one season after finishing in last place.
Boston hit just .211, the lowest average for a Series champion in 39 years and 13 points lower than the Cardinals. But after falling behind 2–1 on the first game-ending obstruction call in postseason history, the Red Sox tied it the following night on the first-game ending pickoff in the postseason. That sparked the Red Sox to three straight wins and another title.
“When we started rolling,” Ortiz said, “nobody ever stopped the train.”