BOSTON — A lot has changed in the last 10 season for the Red Sox. Prior to their 2004 World Series title, their first in 86 years, they were the team that couldn’t win. After adding another championship in 2007, today’s younger fans see the Sox as a team that can’t lose.
“The Red Sox are playing at Fenway and they can’t get beat here,” one young fan explained outside Fenway before Game 6 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.
“Yeah, Scherzer’s gonna pitch well but we’re just gonna bring our bates today and come out and win,” another added.
The Dropkick Murphys started off the rematch of Game 2 — with Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz up against Tigers’ ace Max Scherzer.
Buchholz struggled in his first outing of the series, but he came out strong Saturday night. Yet, like Game 2, by the fifth inning the Sox had nothing on the board. But unlike Game 2, neither did the Tigers.
In the bottom of the fifth the crowd was already on its feet as Xander Bogaerts doubled on a 3-2 count. They stayed on their feet as Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right, and erupted as Bogaerts slid home for the Sox’ first run of the night.
Buchholz found himself in trouble in the sixth with no outs, two men on and big-hitting Prince Fielder coming up to the plate. Manager John Farrell has developed a reputation for pulling pitchers at the first sign of trouble — especially this postseason — and Saturday night was no exception.
Except this time, reliever Franklin Morales threw four straight balls to Fielder to load the bases. After two more balls and a strike, Victor Martinez singled to center — sending two Tigers across home plate.
At the seventh inning stretch the Sox were in familiar territory — needing to come from behind to win. They loaded the bases and then Shane Victorino arrived at the plate.
In Game 2, it was Big Papi’s Grand Slam that put the Sox over the top. This time it was “the Flyin’ Hawaiian” — who, with his second career post-season Grand Slam, put the Sox ahead 5-2. After that, it was just a matter of protecting the lead — a feat Boston’s closer Koji Uehara has been doing brilliantly all year. This time, his performance earned him the series MVP.
It wasn’t so long ago that the Red Sox were known best for their divided clubhouse. But on the field after the game, the players were interested in one thing — including the star of the night, Victorino.
“I’m gonna go join my teammates, I’ll get you guys all later, alright?” Victorino told waiting reporters.
A group of reporters stalked Dustin Pedroia, who manufactured a huge double play to stop the bleeding in the sixth. But Pedroia was unceremoniously hauled off to the locker room by David Ortiz.
Brandon Workman, the reliever who also helped end that inning, put it this way: “Someone always comes up and gets the big hit, gets the big out, whatever it might be that we need,” he said. “We’ve got somebody that’ll get it done.”
Long after the game was over, long after all the players retreated to the clubhouse to douse each other in champagne, the fans remained in the stands chanting. If Fenway had let them, they might have stayed right there until Wednesday night’s Game 1 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.