Red Sox capture World Series in six games

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara reacts with catcher David Ross after defeating the St....

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara reacts with catcher David Ross after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park. Red Sox are World Series champs. (USA TODAY Sports)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

BOSTON - Back in 1918, you could probably have paid the entire starting nine with the money folks were shelling out for seats at Fenway Park Wednesday night. But that’s the price you pay to witness history.

Premium seats were going for as much as $10,000 for the chance to witness the Boston Red Sox clinch their first World Series at home in 95 years, and the Olde Towne Team didn’t disappoint.

The Red Sox, such a mess in 2012, completed their worst-to-first redemption with a 6-1 spanking of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series in six games, touching off a party that may go on for days in Boston’s Back Bay.

As he was in the American League Championship Series clincher, Shane Victorino was the catalyst for this decisive win, belting a three-run double in the third inning and driving in another run in the three-run fourth.

John Lackey, reviled in these parts as recently as two years ago for the lack of return he was providing Boston for his five-year, $80 million contract, pitched magnificently as he has this entire playoff season, blanking the Cards into the seventh inning before surrendering an RBI single to Carlos Beltran. He left the bases loaded for Junichi Tazawa who got a groundball from Matt Holliday to get out of the jam.

Cardinal rookie Michael Wacha, who had been almost unhittable in winning his four previous playoff starts, did not make it out of the fourth inning in this one. After the first time through the order, the Red Sox changed their approach and started tattooing Wacha’s fastball early in the count. That led to three runs in the third and three more in the fourth, well more than enough support for Lackey on this night.

Victorino might have been the man of the hour, but David Ortiz was the runaway MVP of this Series. He hit .688 (11-for-16) and was on base in 19 of his 25 plate appearances. It was his third World Series title as a member of the Red Sox but he got to celebrate on home turf for the first time.


WATCH: POST-GAME TV COVERAGE

Victorino came to the plate with two out and the sacks clogged with Red Sox in the third inning. He had not had a hit since that ALCS grandslam, going 0-for-10 in this series before sitting out two games in St. Louis with back spasms. He looked at two balls from Wacha, took a strike, then hammered the next pitch about half-way up the Green Monster in left, clearing the bases once again.

In the top of the fourth, Stephen Drew came to the plate with four singles in 51 at-bats in the postseason and belted a long home run to right to make it 4-0 and Wacha’s moments were numbered after that. A Jacoby Ellsbury double, another intentional walk of David Ortiz was followed by a Mike Napoli RBI single. Another walk later, Victorino came to the plate, again with the bases full. His single plated just one run this time to make it 6-0.

For Red Sox Nation, a precinct where the reality can seldom come close to expectations, this championship is an unanticipated treasure. Pre-season predictions were dire, with gusts up to modest. Very few people looked at this outfit in spring training, coming off a 69-win season, and said “Yeah, this looks like a team that will win 108 games and a World Series title.” The most optimistic predictions had the Sox winning 80-85 games.

There were so many questions.

Can Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Ellsbury rebound from mediocre campaigns? Will Lackey be back at full health? Is Victorino worth a three-year, $39 million contract? What about Napoli’s degenerative hip condition? Is Will Middlebrooks good enough to be an everyday player? How much does Ortiz, at 37, have left in the tank?

Just about every one of those questions came back in the affirmative. Lester, Buchholz (despite some injuries) and Lackey combined for 78 starts, 510 innings, 434 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA. Elllsbury was an igniter at the top of the lineup, hitting .298 with a .358 OBP. Napoli hit 23 home runs and drov in 92, while playing a very steady first base. Victorino won a Gold Glove for his work in right field, after spending a career in centre with Philadelphia. He hit .294 with an OPS over .800, scored 92 runs and drove in 61, esaily earning his money. Ortiz hit 30 homers and drove in 103 and then grabbed the World Series by the throat and wouldn’t ley go. Daniel Nava came into his own as an everyday player. They had seven everyday players with a WAR of 3.00 or more. The Blue Jays, by comparison, had three such players.

Beyond that, when the bullpen closer role became a problem because of injuries and poor performance, Koji Uehara stepped in and put up Mariano Rivera-esque numbers. And that’s Mariano Rivera in his prime, not on his farewell tour.

In the clubhouse there was no drama, which was a huge departure from the 2012 season when manager Bobby Valentine’s handling of players and issues rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

“When you have issues with players and coaches, or between players, that can wreck a season,” said Ortiz. “Last year was a disaster. You saw that. We had a good group of guys, but a lot of them had issues with the manager. It’s hard to perform like that.”

As chapped as Toronto fans might be to have seen manager John Farrell cut and run back to Boston at the end of last season, he probably was the right man in the right situation to restore order in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Tickets for Wednesday’s game were being billed as the most expensive for any baseball game in history. People were paying as much as $900 for standing room and as much as $10,000 for box seats near the dugout.

Outrageous? Of course.

But then, 95 years creates a lot of pent-up demand.


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