Boston was ready to celebrate Wednesday night, even before the game started...
Fans were confident, as evidence of the average ticket price exceeding $2,000 for a chance to be at Fenway to watch the Red Sox clinch a World Series at home for the first time since 1918.
It didn't take long, but when it did, with one swing of the bat, the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and the party began in the street of Boston.
According to accounts from people that were in the ballpark, Fenway literally shook when Shane Victorino hit his three run double in the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Stephen Drew, who was 4-for-50 in the postseason, slammed a solo homer in the 4th and that's when everything really began to sink in that this would be the night the Red Sox would finish off the series.
RBI singles by Mike Napoli and Victorino swelled the lead to 6-0. The heralded rookie Michael Wacha didn't make it out of the 4th inning. He allowed six earned runs on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts. The Red Sox patience at the plate working deep counts, fouling pitches off led to major production. Boston drew seven walks in Game 6, David Ortiz had four of them (three intentional).
John Lackey flat out dominated. AGAIN. 6.2 innings, one run, nine hits and five strikeouts. He walked only one. He made two starts in the series allowing four runs in 14 innings of work and became the first player in baseball history to start two World Series clinching games for two different teams (the Angels in 2002 as a rookie).
And what a story for Lackey. A guy who was vilified in Boston for two years from 2011-2012 became one of the cities most beloved players. When the Red Sox needed a big win or a big start, Lackey provided it throughout the playoffs. He and Jon Lester combined to go 7-2 with a 2.08 ERA (14 ER in 60.2 IP) in the playoffs.
Junichi Tazawa retired the only batter he faced. Brandon Workman pitched a perfect 8th and Koji, well, he was Koji. A flawless 9th, 13 pitches, 10 strikes and a strikeout to cap off the championship. The Sox 8th in franchise history and 3rd in the last 10 years.
Koji allowed just one run in the playoffs over 13 appearances (13.2 innings). He struck out 16, walked none (hasn't walked a batter since August 3rd) and was a perfect 7-for-7 in save chances.
Overall, the Sox did not hit well with runners in scoring position batting just .250 (11-for-44), but came up with the big hits when they needed them from EVERYONE in the lineup. The Cardinals, who had the best average with runners in scoring position during the regular season, batted just .214 (9-for-42) and stranded 43 men on base in the six games of the World Series. A huge credit to the Sox pitching staff for shutting down that St. Louis offense.
The World Series win over the Cardinals (their second title over St. Louis) capped a sensational 2013 season. The Red Sox were officially the best team to go from worst to first. They went from 69 wins in 2012 to 97 in 2013 and finished it off with a championship. The 28 win difference bested the "Amazin' Mets" from 1969 who improved by 27 wins from 1968 to '69 (73-89 to 100-62) and to actually win the title in the same year.
So many former PawSox contributed to this team. 38 of the 48 total players that put on a Boston Red Sox uniform had donned a PawSox uniform as well. And 17 of the 25 on the playoff roster had spent time in Pawtucket, either on the active roster or on a rehab assignment. That, is pretty special.
Will the beards stay or will they go? Whatever happens, this much we know...The Red Sox are the World Series Champions, a parade to follow with a trophy in tow!