Road to the World Series: Oct. 29, 2013
Cards phenom Wacha squares off with Sox veteran Lackey in Game 6
They're shipping back to Boston, and the Red Sox have to like the boat they're in.
The Road to the World Series pointed to Massachusetts after the Red Sox beat the Cardinals, 3-1, in Game 5 of the 109th Fall Classic on Monday night to take two of three in St. Louis.
Now all the boys with the beards need to do is win one of two games in their favorite park, Fenway, to earn rings for the third time in the past 10 years and to clinch a Series win for the first time in front of a home crowd since 1918.
Some of the usual playoff suspects were at work in getting the job done for Boston on Monday. Starter Jon Lester, for example, has now made World Series brilliance officially seem commonplace.
He dealt in Game 1 and again in Game 5, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up one run on four hits while striking out seven batters and not walking one.
"Given the stage, given how strong he's been throughout the course of this year and particularly the second half and what he's doing in his own right career-wise in the postseason, yeah, this was a big game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Jon Lester was fantastic tonight."
With two World Series wins already in the bank in 2013 -- not to mention a career Fall Classic record of 3-0 and ERA of 0.43 -- Lester would have a good case for Series MVP if the Red Sox wrap it up at home.
Then again, right now it looks like the award belongs to David Ortiz.
Ortiz continued his assault on Cardinals pitching in Game 5, going 3-for-4 and making a bit of history in the process. The big designated hitter, who moonlighted as a first baseman in the three St. Louis games under National League rules, doubled and singled on Monday in his first two at-bats to reach base safely for a Series-record nine consecutive plate appearances.
The big man joined Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon (1939-41) and Reds outfielder Billy Hatcher (1990) as the only players to reach safely in nine straight World Series trips to the plate, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Ortiz has reached base safely in all 13 of his World Series games dating back to 2004.
Ortiz lined out to center field in the sixth inning to snap the streak, but he singled in the eighth to possibly start a new one and is batting .733 (11-for-15) in the Series with two home runs, six RBIs, two doubles, five runs scored and four walks.
"He's having a great series," Farrell said. "The one thing we won't do is get too far ahead of ourselves, whether that's what we achieve collectively or what any individual's performance suggests. But he's in a really good place, obviously."
The same goes for Lester and the rest of the Red Sox and the city of Boston, but don't think for a second that this World Series is over.
The Cardinals aren't treating it that way.
"Our guys have been backed up against the wall before, and this is something that isn't foreign to them," manager Mike Matheny said after Game 5. "They know what we have to do. We just play our game. If we go about it the right way, we'll be right where we want to be.
"Now, would it be in a better position if we won tonight? Absolutely. But once again, this isn't some place they haven't been before. Go out and play the game. Try not to make too much of it, [don't] get too far ahead of ourselves, and get back to the kind of baseball we know we can play, and put together those tough at-bats."
After a travel and workout day on Tuesday, the Road to the World Series will finally end on Wednesday or Thursday right off the Mass Pike near Kenmore Square and the Citgo sign at the old ballpark on Yawkey Way.
Fans in the Hub will be set for a Game 6 coronation or a winner-take-all seventh game. Either way, there will be drama. After watching the first five games of this wild World Series, we can be sure of that.
The Cardinals will start rookie Michael Wacha in Game 6 (7:30 p.m. ET air time; 8 p.m. first pitch), and Wacha has been outstanding all October. The Red Sox will give the ball to right-hander John Lackey, who has seen a few things in October throughout his career.
John Lackey has already won a #WorldSeries clincher: Game 7, 2002 with the Angels. He gets to try it again Wednesday night.- MLB (@MLB) October 29, 2013
The Cardinals know what they have to do: win one game, then win another. Game 7 won't happen without a victory in Game 6.
"You keep rolling with it," Matheny said. "We don't set any goals. ... We've just got to win the next one, and that's the same way we're going to finish this one out."
The Red Sox ended the American League Championship Series in Game 6 when they returned home from Detroit with a 3-2 lead. They're in the same position now, but with much bigger stakes.
"I just told [Red Sox outfielder] Jonny Gomes in the clubhouse," Lester said, "'You know, you show up Feb. 1, play 162 [games], we're at probably like 180, I think, now, total.
"Comes down to one game. Pretty special time. We've just got to go out and keep playing baseball the way we've been doing it all year."
Wednesday's World Series game
Game 6: Cardinals (Wacha 4-0, 1.00 ERA postseason) at Red Sox (Lackey 2-1, 3.26 ERA), 7:30 p.m. ET Preview >
2013 MLB POSTSEASON
Wild Card: Rays 4, Indians 0
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers beat A's, 3-2
Championship Series: Red Sox beat Tigers, 4-2
Wild Card: Pirates 6, Reds 2
Division Series: Cardinals beat Pirates, 3-2 | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
Championship Series: Cardinals beat Dodgers, 4-2
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Game 5: Cardinals 6, Pirates 1, St. Louis wins series, 3-2
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Los Angeles wins series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Boston wins series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6
Game 5: Tigers 3, A's 0, Detroit wins series, 3-2
NL Championship Series
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13 innings)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0
Game 4: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2
Game 5: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4
Game 6: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0, St. Louis wins series, 4-2
AL Championship Series
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5
Game 3: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0
Game 4: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3
Game 5: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3
Game 6: Red Sox 5, Tigers 2, Boston win series, 4-2
World Series (All games on FOX)
Game 1: Red Sox 8, Cardinals 1
Game 2: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 2
Game 3: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2
Game 5: Red Sox 3 Cardinals 1, Boston leads series, 3-2
Game 6: Cardinals at Red Sox, Wednesday, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
*Game 7: Cardinals at Red Sox, Thursday, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
* - if necessary