Start preparing the stories about 2004, 1967, and 1946 – we are in for another Boston Red Sox vs St. Louis Cardinals World Series. Shane Victorino finally connected on a breaking ball, and his 7th inning grand slam propelled the Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers and into the World Series.
Victorino was 2 for 23 heading into his 7th inning AB and had swung and missed at what seemed like uncountable breaking balls so far in the series. But, he connected on an 0-2 pitch and drove the ball into the Green Monster seats, sending the Boston Red Sox back to the World Series for the 3rd time since 2004.
Game 6 was another tense battle between starting pitchers Clay Buchholz and Max Scherzer. Both pitchers were in and out of trouble all night, and when Jacoby Elsbury jumped on a 1st pitch change-up in the bottom of the 5th, driving in Xander Bogaerts, you hoped that the Sox would be able to shut the door on the Tigers. But, we knew it wouldn’t be that easy when Buchholz walked Torii Hunter to start the 6th and Miguel Cabrera followed with a single.
That was the end of the night for Buchholz, who gave way to Franklin Morales, who promptly walked Prince Fielder on 4 pitches. To the surprise of some, Morales was left in to face Victor Martinez and he singled high off the wall in left, scoring 2 runs and putting the Tigers in front 2-1.
Then came the pivotal play of the game to swing the momentum back the way of the Red Sox. With runners on first and third with nobody out and Brandon Workman now on the bump, Jhonny Peralta hit a ground ball to Dustin Pedroia at 2nd. Prince Fielder broke from 3rd headed to the plate as Pedroia looked to try and tag Victor Martinez as he headed to 2nd.
For some reason, Fielder stopped and allowed Pedroia to tag Martinez and then throw home, Salty caught the ball and chased Fielder back towards third where he was tagged out to complete the double play. Alex Avila struck out looking to end the inning, and the Red Sox escaped from a bases loaded nobody out situation down only 1 run headed to the bottom of the 6th – No reason at all for this year’s version of the Red Sox to panic!
After Junichi Tazawa got Miguel Cabrera to ground out with 2 runners on to end the 7th, Jonny Gomes led off the bottom of the inning with a double off the Monster that missed being a HR by less than a foot. A strikeout followed, but then Bogaerts worked a walk after getting down 1-2 and Elsbury hit a grounder up the middle that was misplayed by Jose Iglesias, loading the bases for Victorino.
Two breaking balls from Jose Veras put Victorino in a familiar 0-2 hole, but Veras left the 3rd breaking ball too much over the plate and Shane Victorino put himself in the Red Sox postseason lore by depositing the pitch in the seats atop the Green Monster.
Craig Breslow pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 8th, then Series MVP Koji Uehara once again threw strike after strike in the 9th (10 for 10 tonight) and even though he surrendered a base hit to Austin Jackson, he collected his 3rd save of the series on his way to being named the 1st reliever to win the ALCS MVP Award since Mariano Rivera in 2003.
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Red Sox fans hope the results are much more like the results in 2004, and let’s stay away from the heartache of ’67 and ’46!