John Lackey pitched a great game, the Red Sox got to Michael Wacha, and the World Series is Boston's once more!
For two innings, Game 6 seemed to be slipping away, even with a scoreless tie still intact. After all, John Lackey was giving up absolute rockets. A terribly inconsistent curveball and way too many pitches left up in the zone sent Jonny Gomes racing (as much as Gomes can) all over left field, twice back to the wall, making outs on swings that really should have produced hits. He escaped a two-on, zero outs situation in the second, but all-the-same there was reason to worry.
Michael Wacha? He looked a lot better. Amusingly enough, he'd actually allowed a baserunner in the first, unlike Lackey, walking David Ortiz--a tactic the Cardinals would get more blatant about as the game wore on. And he even matched John Lackey with two baserunners in the second. His outs, however, were much more convincing, and two of his baserunners completely understandable--the aforementioned walk to the incredibly dangerous David Ortiz, and a bloop single from Jonny Gomes.
Then they switched places. Suddenly, John Lackey was the one mowing through batters. He got through three in the third on all of five pitches. Wacha, on the other hand, found himself in a jam. Jacoby Ellsbury shot a hard ground ball through the right side of the infield, then moved to second on a ground out from Dustin Pedroia. The intentional walk got the Cardinals past David Ortiz, and Mike Napoli wasn't up to the task of putting his bat on the ball, but Wacha ended up drilling Jonny Gomes to bring Shane Victorino to the plate. Playing for the first time since Game 3, Victorino took three straight pitches for two balls and a strike, then ripped a fastball to left field. It was not quite deja vu--there would be no grand slam for Victorino this time--but he didn't miss by much, clearing the bases with a double high off the Green Monster.
The Red Sox would not let up on the gas. Stephen Drew, having just missed a homer in Game 5, found the distance this time with a solo shot into the bullpen to lead off the fourth, making it 4-0. Jacoby Ellsbury came about a foot short of matching him with a double off the short wall, and then after getting Dustin Pedroia to fly out, Michael Wacha's last act was to intentionally walk David Ortiz, bringing Lance Lynn to the plate.
It didn't go well for Lynn at all. Mike Napoli blooped a single to center to score Ellsbury from second, and Jonny Gomes drew a walk, setting up Shane Victorino for his second big hit of the night: a single to left that made it 6-0.
6-0 is a big lead, but let it never be said there's a lead that can't be blown by a determined pitching staff. So when John Lackey allowed three straight two-out hits to Daniel Descalso, Matt Carpenter, and Carlos Beltran, Sox fans were reasonably concerned. And when John Farrell went to the mound and left him out there only to have Matt Holliday draw a walk, well, a certain manager of a disaster a decade past leapt to mind in a hurry.
2013, though, is not 2003. Junichi Tazawa came in, induced a ground ball, and covered first for Mike Napoli to end the inning with Boston still enjoying a five-run lead.
That lead was held by Brandon Workman, hard contact or no, sending the game to the ninth inning. Or, in other words, Koji Uehara territory. An easy two-pitch fly ball got out one, an almost identical out following on four more. It would not be right, however, if this World Series run did not end as so many other games this year: a two-strike Koji Uehara splitter diving away from the opposing batter and ending it all with a swinging strikeout.
Seven months after starting the season almost as afterthoughts, the Boston Red Sox are not only the best team in baseball, but World Series champions.
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