By Steven Lieberman
The St. Louis Cardinals were looking for revenge after being swept, 4-0, by the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series. After putting forth a good effort, the Cardinals fell short again, losing the battle to the bearded-wonders of Boston, 4-2, and watching the 2013 World Series also slip away.
It seemed as if the Cardinals were heading in the right direction after they split the first two games in Boston and then won Game 3 at Busch Stadium on an obstruction call when Will Middlebrooks tripped up Allen Craig at third base to give the Cardinals the walk-off victory.
Then, things took a turn for the worse.
Cardinals’ rookie pinch-runner Kolten Wong got picked off at first base by Red Sox closer Koji Uehara with Carlos Beltran at the plate to end Game 4, 4-2.
“My foot slipped on me,” Wong said. “I’m aware of what’s going on. Just got a little too far off, and the back foot slipped out.”
Then a combination of holes in the Cardinals bats and the hot bats of David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Shane Victorino helped seal the deal for the Red Sox with a 6-1 win in Game 6 at Fenway Park. It was the first time since 1918 they clinched a World Series at home and the third time winning it since 2004.
Cardinals’ rookie-sensation starter in Game 6, Michael Wacha, wasn’t able to help the cause. It seemed as if the Red Sox sluggers figured out his pitching the second time around.
It’s very disappointing,” said Wacha, who finished 4-1 this postseason. “Everyone on this club wants that ring. I didn’t want to win it for myself. I wanted to win it for these guys in this clubhouse who have been working all year, working their tail off all year. Whenever I have a poor outing like that, it hurts even worse. I feel like I just let the team down. It’s not a very good feeling, that’s for sure.”
Cardinals’ third-baseman David Freese begged to differ.
“We are extremely impressed and proud of what Wacha has done,” Freese said. “He’s a part of history with what he’s all about this month, and he should be extremely proud. He’s a huge reason we got to this point.”
Beltran showed his frustration after the loss.
“One team is going to lose, and we ended up being on the losing side,” said Beltran, whose dream of a World Series championship remains unfulfilled. “We didn’t play good baseball. At the end of the day, that’s not the team that we know we can be.”
And second-year Cardinals manager Mike Matheny looked on the bright side of the series.
“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” Matheny said. “We all know that we could come out and play a better game than we did here, but we did a whole lot more than anybody gave us credit for or expected us to do. There are a lot of things that they can look on in a negative way, but this isn’t the time for it. They have to be very proud of how they represented themselves, each other and this organization.”
The Cardinals’ chances of forcing a Game 7 slipped away when Victorino drilled a Wacha-delivered 93-mph fastball off of the Green Monster in left field clearing the loaded bases in the fourth inning.
“To get these kinds of moments, it’s just what it’s all about.” said Victorino, who sat out the previous two games due to back tightness. “I’m very fortunate to be able to come here, come up in that spot again tonight, bases loaded, open the game up a little bit. But we knew it was a tough task. Tip my hat to the Cardinals, they gave us that Series that we thought it was going to be, and it was just nice to be on the winning side.”
But it would be World Series MVP, Ortiz, the toast of bean town, who would make things most difficult for the Cardinals. Here’s a look at some of his historic numbers.
19 times on base in 25 plate appearances, .688 batting average with 11 hits in 16 at bats (record is .750 by Billy Hatcher), two homers and six RBI’s, four walks in Game 6 (three were intentional), three World Series won with the Red Sox in 10 years, .465 career batting average in World Series, and third oldest World Series MVP at 37 years old.
Here is what Ortiz had to say about the whole experience.
“You know, winning this World Series is special. I think it might be the most special out of the World Series that I have been part of, to be honest with you.”
And he is definitely the one common thread to all three Red Sox titles won in the last decade.