They captured their third AL pennant in 10 years with a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the ALCS shortly after midnight on Sunday. It marks the Red Sox's first World Series appearance since 2007. In that World Series, the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies in four games.
It was a case of deja vu all over again. As in Game 2, Tigers starter Max Scherzer left the game with a lead and the bullpen blew by giving a grand slam home run.
The Sox took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury. But the Sox got in trouble in the sixth. After issuing a walk to Torii Hunter and a single to Miguel Cabrera, Sox manager John Farrell removed Clay Buchholz in favor of Franklin Morales. The southpaw issued a four pitch walk to Prince Fielder and then gave up a two-run single to Victor Martinez which gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers had an opportunity for a big inning. But Brandon Workman was brought in and he got Jhonny Peralta to hit a ground ball to Dustin Pedroia who tagged out Martinez and then threw the ball home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia who caught Fielder in a run down. It was one of the strangest double plays I've ever seen. Workman then struck out Alex Avila looking to end the inning.
Detroit would rally again in the seventh and load the bases for Miguel Cabrera. Junichi Tazawa was brought in to face Cabrera. The likely AL MVP appeared to hit a ball up the middle, but shortstop Stephen Drew dove for the ball and threw out Cabrera to silence the Tigers' roar.
Jonny Gomes got things started in the bottom of the seventh with a wall ball double that just missed going over the Green Monster by six inches, maybe less. Scherzer managed to strike out Drew, but ended up walking Xander Bogaerts. He might have the best eye at the plate I've seen out of a rookie since Frank Thomas.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave Scherzer the hook and in came Drew Smyly to face Ellsbury. The Sox leadoff hitter appeared to hit an inning ending double play, but the normally sure handed Jose Iglesias booted the ball which loaded the bases. I knew Iglesias would play a big role in this series, but I honestly didn't think he would be on the receiving end.
Leyland then removed Smyly in favor of Jose Veras to face Shane Victorino. On the third pitch of the at bat, Victorino launched one into the Green Monster seats. Grand slam!!! Sox took a 5-2 lead.
Unlike Big Papi's grand slam, no Tiger outfielder landed on their head. But the bottom fell out of the Tigers just the same and could not get back up.
Craig Breslow retired the side in order in the eighth. Before the ninth, the Fenway faithful chanted, "Koji!!! Koji!!!" and Koji Uehara worked his magic in the ninth, striking out Iglesias to end the game and with it their 12th AL pennant.
Uehara was named the ALCS MVP. He earned one win and three saves. Through an interpreter, Uehara confessed he felt like he was going to throw up as he took the mound in the ninth.
So it will be a Red Sox-Cardinals World Series. This marks the fourth time these two teams have met in the Fall Classic. They first met in 1946 with the Cardinals winning in seven games on Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash Home. Johnny Pesky was blamed for holding onto the ball, but would Slaughter have scored had Dominic DiMaggio hadn't pulled his hamstring thus forcing the Red Sox to use Leon Culberson in center field?
They would meet again in 1967. The Impossible Dream Red Sox were led by Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski. They took the Cardinals to seven games. Unfortunately, Lonborg and champagne wasn't enough to overcome the dynamic duo of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock.
The Red Sox and Cardinals last met in the World Series back in 2004. Following the euphoria of coming back down 0-3 against the New York Yankees in the ALCS, the Red Sox swept the Redbirds in four capturing their first World Series title since 1918.
This time around, the Red Sox and Cardinals face each other as the teams with the best record in their respective leagues. It is the first time this has happened since the 1995 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves.
The 2013 World Series will begin on Wednesday night here in Boston.
While I hope to attend one more World Series parade, I think the Cardinals will win it in seven. On the other hand, I have underestimated the Sox all season long and have had my expectations exceeded every time. So why stop now?
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