, Newburyport, MA

October 30, 2013

One win away from Fenway Park's proudest day

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — BOSTON — Ted Williams was just 11 days old, the Green Monster still was made of wood and there were no such things as “Pesky’s Pole” or the red seat in Row 37 of Section 42 the last time the Boston Red Sox won a World Series-clinching game here at historical Fenway Park.

Just 15,238 fans were in attendance to celebrate that Game 6 clincher, which lasted only 1 hour, 46 minutes.

Red Sox right-hander Carl Mays hurled a complete game, allowing just one run while also going 1 for 2 with a walk and run scored. Mays, the great Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox were 2-1 victors over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 11, 1918, to win the World Series inside of then 6-year-old Fenway Park.

Here we are 95 years later. Fenway Park is 101 years old. Mays has been dead 42 years and Ruth 65 years. Williams, then an infant, passed away 11 years ago. And the Red Sox today get their third chance since 1918 to clinch a World Series here on 4 Yawkey Way inside the oldest ballpark in the major leagues.

Boston enters today’s Game 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals here at Fenway with a 3-2 series lead. Sox right-hander John Lackey, who won clinching-Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie for the Angels, will face Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha, who beat Lackey in Game 2 last week and is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four postseason starts.

Taking into account the 95-year home-field drought (during which the Sox have clinched two World Series on the road, 2004, ‘07), how Sox players rallied around this city during the Boston Marathon Bombings tragedy and also all the historical moments that have happened inside these Fenway walls since Sept. 11, 1918, we’re watching history unfold in front of our eyes ... win or lose.

“I think what’s really built over the course of this season, I think our fans have appreciated the way we’ve gone about playing the game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said at Fenway yesterday. “I think they’ve witnessed guys that care for one another. And in return, the way they’ve demonstrated their appreciation, the energy that they create in here, we have certainly fed off of that. ... So if we happen to be able to share it with them, that would be great. But we’ve got to take care of business first.”

The two failed attempts to clinch titles here at Fenway were in Game 7 of the 1967 World Series and Game 7 of the 1975 World Series.

Both years, Boston entered Game 6 at Fenway down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and won to extend the series to a Game 7.

Game 6 in 1975 arguably was the most dramatic and legendary finish to any game in Fenway Park history considering what was at stake. That was the game when Carlton Fisk blasted a solo homer off the left field foul pole in the bottom of the 12th inning to force Game 7, which Boston lost 4-3 to the Cincinnati Reds the next night despite leading 3-0 heading into the sixth inning.

Fisk motioned with his hands as he headed down the first base line, trying to keep the baseball fair.

“With no disrespect to history or to Carlton, you know, it’s an iconic video and a highlight that is shown repeatedly, and one of the more memorable swings that has taken place in this ballpark, but hopefully, there’s someone tomorrow night that can wave their arms just the same,” Farrell said.

Want some similarities between the 1918 and 2013 teams?

The 1918 club batted just .186 with a .259 on-base percentage, .233 slugging percentage and .492 OPS but posted a team ERA of 1.70 in their six-game World Series.

The 2013 club has batted just .205. with a .268 on-base percentage, .317 slugging percentage and .585 OPS but has posted a team ERA of 2.01 in five World Series games entering today.

Want to talk about a pair of aces? Ruth was 2-0, 1.06 ERA in the 1918 Series. Jon Lester is 2-0 with an 0.59 ERA in the 2013 Series.

It will be up to Lackey tonight to get the job done like Mays did in 1918.

Lackey said about potentially clinching a World Series at Fenway: “It would be awesome. As far as personally, I’m just thinking about executing pitches and trying to win a game. And hopefully, we get to that point.”

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB


Today, 8:07 p.m. Fenway Park

Pitching matchup: Red Sox RHP John Lackey (2-1, 3.26 ERA this postseason) vs. Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (4-0, 1.00 this postseason).

Series So Far: The Red Sox lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 with a chance to win the title tonight. Boston fell behind 2-1 in the series but won two straight games at St. Louis Busch Stadium.

Sox Series MVP Candidates: There are two. David Ortiz has reached in 15 of 20 World Series plate appearances and is 11 for 15 with two homers, two doubles, six RBIs and four walks. Jon Lester is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two starts in this year’s Fall Classic.

Series TV Ratings: Through five games, the World Series is averaging an 8.5 rating, which is up 12 percent from last year and makes it the highest rated World Series since 2009.

Take the T: The Red Sox are encouraging fans attending the game or anyone who will be in Boston tomorrow evening to take public transportation because there will be several streets closed.