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We didn't just win it. We won it at Home.
By Janice Page
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2013 The Boston Globe
All rights reserved.
In a matchup of 97-game winners, the Red Sox consistently produced the big pitch and the big hit.
SERIES VS ST. LOUIS
by Dan Shaughnessy Globe Staff
It was a Back Bay Bacchanal, a party unlike anything since 1918. Six months after Shelter in Place, the city of Boston invites the world to celebrate a victory of team over self. Boston Strong, at least a variation of the theme, hit a crescendo on Oct. 30 on the Fenway lawn, the town common of 2013. The 2013 Red Sox, the motley crew that left Fort Myers begging, "Please don't hate us," completed the ultimate redemption song, thrashing the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in the sixth and final game of the World Series. The Brotherhood of the Beard are World Champions for the third time this century, worthy progeny of the 20th century Sox, who won five of the first 15 Series back in the days when Babe Ruth was a fuzzy-faced lefthanded orphan from Baltimore. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody.
After the worst season in 47 years — the Bobby Valentine clown show of 2012 — Sox general manager Ben Cherington and new field manager John Farrell made the Red Sox relevant and good again. The 2013 Sox dusted the field in the American League East, then blew past the Tampa Bays Rays, the Detroit Tigers, and the estimable Cardinals in an 11-5 postseason onslaught. The Sox were dominant. In the 2013 playoffs they bested aces Matt Moore, David Price, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Adam Wainwright, and Michael Wacha. And so Boston has its eighth championship parade since 2002, and outgoing mayor Thomas Menino will be on a duck boat, which is scheduled to roll down Boylston Street, past the places where the bombs exploded on Marathon Monday, April 15. It is the ultimate civic comeback story. These are the 2013 Red Sox. They finished in the basement of the American League East in 2012, winning a mere 69 games in a trainwreck season that came on the heels of the epic collapse of the Terry Francona/Theo Epstein Sox who folded dramatically in September 2011.
John Lackey was the poster boy of the 2011 chicken-and-beer chokers, and in Game 6 this year he completed his comeback ballad, hurling 6 innings of one-run ball and becoming the first man in baseball history to start and win World Series-clinching games for two franchises (Lackey won Game 7 for the Angels over the Giants when he was a 24-year-old rookie in 2002). The Boston pariah of 2011 became the hero of 2013.
This finale was the first World Series Game 6 at Fenway since the Carlton Fisk Home Run Game of 1975, and it was a worthy successor. Luis Tiant, the '75 Game 6 starter, and his old batterymate Fisk threw out ceremonial first pitches, and Sox heartbeat Dustin Pedroia completed the metaphor when he hit a towering foul fly that narrowly missed the left-field pole in the bottom of the first.
Pedroia's near-miss was a mere footnote. The Sox would not be denied.
Both teams squandered scoring opportunities in the first two innings. It looked like it might be a true contest, but the Sox removed all doubt with a three-run third off St. Louis rocket boy Wacha.
Jacoby Ellsbury led with a single to right. After Pedroia went out on a grounder to third, Wacha intentionally walked World Series MVP David Ortiz (.688). Good move. Mike Napoli struck out and then Jonny Gomes was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Enter Shane Victorino. Cue the music. "Three Little Birds," by Bob Marley.
Every little thing gonna be all right.
Victorino turned on a 2-1 pitch and drove it toward the Monster Seats. The ball hit the Covidien sign on the wall, good for three runs and a World Series ring. Victorino was credited with a three-run double. The ballgame was over.
The Sox added three more runs and chased Wacha in the fourth. Much-maligned Stephen Drew led off with a homer into the Red Sox bullpen (gloved by Franklin Morales), and surrendered a double to Ellsbury. The young righthander (MVP of the NLCS) was lifted after intentionally walking Ortiz. Napoli made it 5-0 with a single to center off Lance Lynn. After a walk to Gomes, Victorino struck again with a single to left and it was 6-0. Ballgame.
There was good drama for the Sox in the seventh. With two out and nobody aboard, the Cardinals rallied with a single, a double, and Carlos Beltran's RBI single. Farrell came out to get Lackey, but was rebuffed.
"This is my game!" Lackey shouted to his manager.
Farrell relented. But when Lackey walked Matt Holliday to load the bases, the manager reemerged from the dugout and pulled his starter. When Lackey walked off the mound, he tipped his cap to the masses who'd rightfully crushed him over the past two years. Junichi Tazawa retired Allen Craig on a harmless grounder and it was on to the seventh-inning stretch.
It was a mere formality in the last two innings. Indomitable Sox closer Koji Uehara came out for the ninth and retired the side in order, sealing the championship by striking out Matt Carpenter (swinging) at 11:23 p.m.
Fifteen minutes after the final out, Red Sox/Globe owner John Henry hoisted the World Series championship trophy ("The World Series Cup," according to Menino) and addressed the crowd as fireworks smoke enveloped the infield. Henry spoke. Tom Werner spoke. Cherington spoke. And then Farrell took center stage for his bow.
It was the first time the Sox won the World Series on the Fenway lawn since Carl Mays beat the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 on Sept. 11, 1918.
Ninety-five years later, the Sox won it again on their home field. And the party lingered long into the night.CHAPTER 2
American League Championship Series
The Sox struck out a record 73 times, but had a flair for the dramatic.
SERIES VS DETROIT
by Dan Shaughnessy Globe Staff
It was just before 11:30 on a splendid Saturday night at our 101-year-old ballpark when a guy from Hawaii stepped to the plate as we heard the recording of a man from Jamaica singing, "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be all right." More than 38,000 voices sang along with Bob Marley, then Shane Victorino effectively ended eight days and six games of unforgettable baseball with a grand slam into the Monster Seats on an 0-2 pitch from Tigers reliever Jose Veras. The Flyin' Hawaiian's shot bookended the bases-loaded blast by Dave Ortiz that kickstarted everything one week ago, and launched the Red Sox into the 2013 World Series. Boston's American League Championship Series clincher, a 5-2 Sox victory, officially ended at 12:01 Sunday morning when Koji Uehara fanned Jose Iglesias, triggering a wild celebration on the Fenway infield and pandemonium in the stands and streets outside the park.
One year after enduring last-place humiliation and the worst season in 47 years, the Red Sox were AL champions for the 13th time since 1901. It all started one year ago, when general manager Ben Cherington hired Blue Jays manager John Farrell. He was the perfect candidate to replace clown prince Bobby Valentine. He was a pitching coach with the 2007 world champion Red Sox and already had the respect of veterans Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey. Cherington did the rest. In the winter of 2012-13, he went after quality clubhouse veterans, players who had played in big markets and big games. He acquired Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, David Ross, Ryan Dempster, Uehara, and Victorino. And they all contributed mightily. They changed the clubhouse culture. "I felt it the first day of spring training," Pedroia said in midseason when the Sox were fending off injuries and challenges. "We were all about winning, right from the start."
And they won. They won 97 games. They demolished the Rays in a four-game Division Series.
Then came the mighty Tigers, champions of the Central Division, a team with a 68-year-old universally respected manager, a stable of big, slow sluggers, and the best starting rotation in baseball.
The Sox beat the Tigers in six pulsating games. It was a series with dozens of freeze-frame moments, none more memorable than Ortiz's iconic blast into the Red Sox bullpen that brought the Sox back from a 5-1 deficit in the critical second game. The photo of inverted Torii Hunter and the celebrating Boston cop will be the signature moment of this series, maybe of the entire season. Uehara was named series MVP, but it just as well could have been Big Papi, even though he only managed two hits in the six games.
Buchholz needed 17 minutes to pitch to four batters to get through the top of the first. As great as these games were, the pace (3:52 in Game 6) was not baseball's friend. Grinding out at-bats is one thing; hideous delay is quite another. The pace of these games is a serious threat to the erstwhile National Pastime.
We almost had a reenactment of Carlton Fisk's 1975 midnight moonshot off the foul pole in the third when Pedroia annihilated a first pitch from Max Scherzer, driving it deep into the night, mere inches left of the pole. Pedroia didn't have quite enough body English as he moved down the first-base line and the ball sailed foul. Instead of a three-run homer, Pedroia wound up grounding into a double play to keep things scoreless.
Thanks to wonderboy Xander Bogaerts, the Sox broke through with a run in the fifth. The X-Man, Boston's youngest postseason starter since Babe Ruth, set things up with a two-out double off the Wall in left center (near the "B Strong" emblem). He came around to score when Jacoby Ellsbury cracked the next pitch into right field. The pitch Bogaerts hit was a 100-mile-per-hour fastball.
The Tigers answered with two in the sixth, but should have had more. Farrell lifted Buchholz (85 pitches) after a walk and Miguel Cabrera's single started the inning. Franklin Morales was Farrell's reliever of choice and it was a disaster. The lefty walked useless Prince Fielder on four pitches, then surrendered a two-run Wall ball single to Victor Martinez. Morales was removed and showered with boos. Brandon Workman came on and got out of the jam on a double-play grounder (featuring a hideous bellyflop by the blundering Fielder) and a strikeout.
After he was burned by his bullpen in Game 2, Scherzer was in no mood to come out of this one. He put two men on to start the sixth, but retired three straight as the Sox stranded runners on second and third.
Tiger manager Jim Leyland hooked his starter after Scherzer yielded a near home run (less than a foot from the top of the Wall) to Gomes and walked the redoubtable Bogaerts with one out in the seventh. Then Ellsbury hit a grounder up the middle that was gloved, then dropped by stylemaster Iglesias.
Don't worry about a thing. 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
What Was That?
Steve Horgan, the "bullpen cop" celebrating David Ortiz's grand slam in the iconic double-V photograph by the Globe's Stan Grossfeld, will forever have a special niche in Red Sox fandom. Nonetheless, the photo, and some postgame comments by Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, who plunged head over heels over the bullpen wall trying to catch Ortiz's blast, may raise questions about what, precisely, are the responsibilities of a bullpen cop.
"He's supposed to protect and serve ... help me, then cheer, fool," Hunter reportedly said, perhaps as a joke, but perhaps not. While the duties of a bullpen cop aren't spelled out, they center on making sure that fans don't harass players; they don't include getting involved with on field play.
The photo captures Horgan's arms raised in an exultant cheer for Ortiz's grand slam while Hunter's somersaulting legs are splayed in exactly the same position. If Horgan had, instead, rushed to the wall to brace Hunter as the ball flew by, umpires would probably still be debating how to call the play. Instead, Horgan rightly let Hunter pursue the ball, and his joyful reaction likely preceded any awareness that the Tigers player may have been injured. Soon after, as Sox relief pitchers rushed to Hunter's aid, Horgan waved for medical help. Fortunately, Hunter turned out to be fine. So, too, should Horgan's reputation.
Close your eyes and it is 2004 all over again.
by Dan Shaughnessy Globe Staff
Tom Brady is throwing last-second touchdown passes en route to a certain Super Bowl, David Ortiz is the greatest clutch hitter in baseball history, and the unwashed Red Sox are escaping from a hopeless deficit while Mayor Menino is pumping tires on the duck boats.
What might be the most exciting day in Boston sports history ended at festive Fenway on Oct. 13 at 11:44 p.m., when Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to left, scoring Jonny Gomes from third to give the Red Sox an impossible 6-5, series-squaring, come-from-behind victory over the stunned Detroit Tigers.
In the day of all days, the moment of all moments was the Ruthian sight of Ortiz crushing a first-pitch, game- tying grand slam off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning. As right fielder Torii Hunter flipped over the bullpen wall in fruitless pursuit of the flying seed, a Boston bullpen cop signaled "touchdown" and Fenway came to life.
This was not a walkoff. This was a liftoff. Flat on the ground for almost 17 strikeout-filled innings, Boston's championship hopes were launched into the airspace over the Back Bay as 38,029 fans rattled Fenway's 101-year-old timbers.
As Ortiz has been known to say, "This is our [expletive] city!"
"As we've seen, we're going to play to the final out," said Sox manager John Farrell. "David has come up big so many times in the postseason, none bigger than tonight. Just an incredible comeback here."
"We needed it, man," said Ortiz. "I tried not to do too much. I wasn't trying to hit a grand slam. Just try to put a good swing on the ball."
It was a Fisk-like moment.
Incredible? Unbelievable? Cosmic? Epic? Go ahead. Choose your word. This was right up there with any of the thrills we've seen at the ancient yard over the last century. Dave Roberts was summoned for the ceremonial first pitch and the event unfolded in a fashion reminiscent of the comeback against the Yankees in 2004.
In Foxborough or at Fenway, this was not a day to leave early.
All hope seemed lost on Yawkey Way. The Sox were striking out at a record pace — 17 times in a 1-0 defeat on Saturday and 13 more times in Game 2 as they fell behind, 5-1, through seven innings.
We were set to bury them. The Sox managed only one hit over the first 14 innings of the series. It was time for the fuzzy fellows to get out the razors. They were about to go down, two games to none, and face Justin Verlander in Game 3 in Detroit two days later. After not losing four straight games all season, the Sox looked like candidates for a sweep in the ALCS.
"We felt we were going to break out of it," said Saltalamacchia.
After Shane Victorino broke up Max Scherzer's no-hitter in the sixth, Dustin Pedroia broke the interminable Boston drought with an RBI double to left. Pedroia is the guy who was still playing with a broken bone in his hand at the end of the hideous 2012 season. He was embarrassed by the franchise's worst season in 47 years and he will never forget. Ortiz is the modern-day Bambino of this lovable nine, but Pedroia is the everyday player who sets the tone for the everyday miracles.
It was still 5-1 in the eighth when Tigers manager Jim Leyland got a little too cute and started a Joe Maddonesque parade of relievers. He wound up with big, nasty Benoit facing Ortiz with the bases loaded and two outs. Ortiz had already fanned twice on the night.
Papi struck on the first pitch. There was little doubt as his heat-seeking missile screeched toward the Sox bullpen. Hunter hit the wall at full speed and flipped as the ball soared beyond his reach. It was 5-5. It was already over.
"I know he has a good split-finger," said Ortiz. "I faced him a couple of times during the regular season."
Koji Uehara came on in the ninth and stuffed the already beaten Tigers. Then Rick Porcello came in to play the foil. Gomes hit a grounder to the left side and made it all the way to second on a throwing error by former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias. He took third on a wild pitch and scored when Salty cracked his single to left. There was Ned Martinesque "pandemonium on the field," and the series was even.
by Peter Abraham Globe Staff
It's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ballgame. But that's really not so bad these days. The strikeout, once something hitters did all they could to avoid, now has a degree of respect within baseball.
Though the Red Sox set a franchise record with 1,308 strikeouts during the regular season, they also led the majors in scoring by wearing down opposing pitchers with long, patient at-bats. Strikeouts, hitting coach Greg Colbrunn explained, are a cost of doing business.
"There's an awareness of pitch counts and starting pitchers sticking to a pitch count. So when guys go up there and battle for six or seven pitches, a strikeout is a good at-bat," Colbrunn said. "I know how that sounds, but it's true."
Excerpted from For Boston by Janice Page. Copyright © 2013 The Boston Globe. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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