Editor’s note: Starting Monday, March 23, NESN will re-air memorable games from the Boston Red Sox’s World Series runs. Up next is Game 6 of the 2013 World Series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. See the full schedule by clicking here.
What a way to end a “bridge year.”
The Red Sox entered the 2013 seasons with minimal expectations. Being in Boston, they obviously were expected to do well, but few would’ve been upset if a team loaded with veterans on short-term, prove-it contracts came up short of the ultimate prize. Staying relatively competitive throughout the season before passing the torch to the next generation would’ve been just fine.
However, a remarkable thing happened that year: The 2013 Red Sox lifted a mourning city onto their backs, put the failures of 2012 behind them and, with an excellent blend of young and old, won the World Series. To say “we don’t know how they did it” would be unfair; they were just really, really good.
It all culminated Wednesday, Oct. 30, in a Game 6 that, as far as championship-clinching games go, was relatively stress-free. It also ended with the first championship celebration at Fenway Park since 1918, a year that once lived in infamy.
Scoreless through two innings, the game broke open in the bottom of the third when Shane Victorino clobbered a three-run double off the Green Monster. Fueled by a redemptive John Lackey, an unsung hero, a great bullpen and, of course, the usual stars, the Red Sox never looked back.
NESN will re-air Game 6 of the 2013 World Series at 7 p.m. ET on Friday night. Before that, though, here are five things you might have forgotten about that memorable October night:
1. Lackey’s finest night with the Red Sox
Lackey dealt with a ton of criticism during his time in Boston — some of it justified, some of it not. But when it mattered most, the veteran right-hander made sure Red Sox fans remembered him for the best possible reasons.
Though hardly dominant — he gave up nine hits, walked a batter and threw two wild pitches — Lackey was great when it mattered most, limiting the Cardinals to one run over 6 2/3 innings. Lackey pitched with multiple runners on base three times over the first six innings, escaping unscathed each time. After retiring the first two hitters of the seventh, Lackey allowed five consecutive batters to reach base, with one crossing home plate. He was lifted before he could get the final out, but left the field to a much-deserved standing ovation from the Fenway faithful. Lackey finished the 2013 postseason with a 3-1 record to go along with a 2.77 ERA.
2. Victorino comes up huge with the bases loaded… again
“The Flyin’ Hawaiian” clearly liked the bases juiced in October.
Eleven days after an iconic, basically ALCS-clinching grand slam, Victorino came through again. After Michael Wacha hit Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases with two outs in the third inning, Victorino smashed a bases-clearing double to left field that probably would’ve been a grand slam in most other parks.
Victorino finished the 2013 postseason with only a .216 average, but the Red Sox wouldn’t have lifted the Commissioner’s Trophy without the heroics of their energetic outfielder.
3. Stephen Drew!
Like his brother, J.D., Stephen was heavily criticized throughout his time in Boston, albeit for different reasons. However, also like his brother, he ultimately is remembered by fans for hitting a huge home run during the playoffs.
Primarily known for his defense, Drew followed up his .253 average in the regular season by hitting .111 in the playoffs. But all the criticism washed away the moment the underappreciated shortstop connected on a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning. The hit would prove to be a pivotal rally-starter, as the Red Sox scored two more runs in the inning — RBI singles from Victorino and Mike Napoli — to suck all remaining air out of the Cardinals.
4. The Cardinals basically stopped pitching to David Ortiz
Hard to blame them.
Ortiz entered Game 6 hitting .360 — including .733 (!) in the World Series — with five homers and 13 RBIs for the playoffs. Wisely, the Cardinals gave up on pitching to him, walking the eventual World Series MVP a whopping four times. Ortiz did score two runs, though, and finished the postseason with an absurd .353 batting average in 16 games.
5. Perfect bullpen
Boston’s relievers were excellent throughout 2013 and finished the year in style.
Junichi Tazawa, Brandon Workman and Koji Uehara combined for 2 1/3 perfect innings, with Uehara striking out Matt Carpenter to finish the game and the series. For the playoffs, Workman compiled a 0.00 ERA in seven appearances, Tazawa 1.23 ERA in 13 games and Uehara a 0.66 ERA to go along with seven saves in 13 appearances. Not to be forgotten is Craig Breslow, who managed a 2.45 ERA in 10 appearances