Boston tries to secure first World Series title at Fenway since 1918
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox haven't clinched a World Series at home since Babe Ruth was on their roster.
They can change that on Wednesday, as they attempt to secure a title at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918 and put the finishing touches on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6.
Boston has won two World Series titles since that championship nearly 100 years ago, but both times the Red Sox have clinched on the road with its last title coming in 2007 against Colorado. Of course, the Red Sox ended their 86- year title drought with a four-game sweep of the Cardinals in 2004.
Although they will be in front of what should be a raucous Fenway crowd, the Red Sox will still have their work cut out for them, as they go up against the best pitcher this postseason in 22-year-old righty Michael Wacha, who is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in these playoffs.
Not to mention, the Cardinals are 8-1 in elimination games in the past three years.
"I'm going out there to try to keep the season alive," Wacha said. "It's must- win from here on out. That's the mindset going in there: win a ballgame."
Only two pitchers have won five times in a single postseason: Diamondbacks starter Randy Johnson in 2001, and Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez in 2002. Both of those players' teams won the World Series.
Wacha earned the win in Game 2 of this series, as he held the Red Sox to a pair of runs and three hits in six innings. He's only allowed three earned runs in 27 innings this postseason and has held opponents to just a .127 average, the fourth-lowest average in a single postseason among pitchers who logged at least 20 innings.
"I guess it's expected now," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese. "Man, he's a great talent. He works his tail off. He soaks it all in. And he obviously enjoys the moment."
Opposing him, though, will be as battle-tested pitcher as there is in right- hander John Lackey, who has also been terrific this postseason, and, of course, clinched a World Series title for the Angels back in 2002 with a terrific Game 7 performance as a rookie.
"I don't know what kind of guy (Wacha) is," Lackey said. "But personally, I was more excited about it than anything else as far as nerves, that sort of thing."
Lackey, who suffered a hard-luck loss in Game 2, has held his opponents to four runs or less in 14 of his 15 career playoff starts. Only Andy Pettitte has more such starts (16) in the American League since 2002.
"He's been there before," teammate Ryan Dempster said. "He started Game 7 of the World Series as a rookie, so John Lackey is no stranger to big-game situations. We're glad that we have him on our side."
Lackey was far better this season at Fenway, where he was 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA.
Boston moved to the brink of a title on Monday, as Jon Lester retired 12 straight at one point and the Red Sox scored twice in the seventh to take a pivotal 3-1 victory.
"I expect a lot of high things from myself, as do my teammates," Lester said. "You don't want to let those guys down. And we're all trying to pull on the same rope and get to one common goal. And that's what makes this team pretty special."
David Ortiz had another productive night for Boston, going 3-for-4 with an RBI to boost his average in the series to an otherworldly .733 (11-of-15). He matched Billy Hatcher's World Series record by reaching base in nine straight plate appearances before lining out in the sixth.
"Hopefully this will get over tomorrow, and they'll get to enjoy it like they always do," he said. "Party time."
Ortiz, the last remaining veteran from the 2004 title team, doubled in a run in the first inning against Adam Wainwright (0-2), who settled in after another slow start but faltered late to suffer his second loss of the series.
"We felt this was going to be a classic pitchers' duel; it was shaping up that way. Fortunately we were able to break through," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We're excited about going home in the position we are."
Like the setback in Game 1, the only run St. Louis mustered came on a Matt Holliday homer.
"Our guys have been backed up against the wall before," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "This is something that isn't foreign to them. They know what they have to do."
St. Louis found itself in this same position back in 2011, but rallied back to win Games 6 and 7. However, those games were played at Busch Stadium. In fact, since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates won the last two games in Baltimore, six straight teams have failed to overcome 3-2 deficits on the road.
"We're not out of it," said Wainwright. "I fully believe that our team can go into Boston and win two games. In the postseason, pitching always rules."
On the injury front Boston is expected to have right fielder Shane Victorino back in the lineup on Wednesday. Victorino had missed the last two games with a back injury.
If necessary, Game 7 will be played Thursday at Fenway Park.