BOSTON — The game was all but over on Wednesday night as Red Sox closer Koji Uehara took the mound in the ninth inning. But there was still plenty of excitement inside Fenway Park’s 101- year-old walls.
Fans had barely sat down since Carlton Fisk and Luis Tiant, the Red Sox heroes of 1975′s World Series Game 6, threw out the first pitch. Fans crammed into every possible viewing perch as Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out.
Even though the Sox had lead for the entire game, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said everyone was on edge as that pitch was thrown.
“I mean, sitting just there watching it, [was] nerve-wracking,” he said. “But having that cushion of a lead and Koji on the mound, you’re just waiting for that last out to be able to run.”
As Uehara showed off the 2013 World Series trophy to the press corps from Japan, catcher David Ross tried to make his way to the clubhouse where champagne celebrations were waiting, but ran into an obstacle: the throng of reporters looking for a soundbite.
“I think the city loves us.” Ross said. “We love the city. I think it’s special. Boston Strong. I mean, we’ve come a long way since that marathon, haven’t we?”
From the start, the atmosphere in Fenway Park was anything but quiet. The game was still scoreless in the bottom of the third but with two outs and bases loaded, Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha found himself in trouble. Catcher Yadier Molina came out to have a chat with his 22-year-old pitcher, who seemed to be feeling the pressure of the postseason for the first time in his young career.
Whatever Molina said, it didn’t work. The crowd went crazy as Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino hit a big double off the Green Monster to send three Red Sox runs over home plate.
The Sox scored three more runs in the fourth, and the Cardinals needed two pitching changes to get out of the inning. Sox pitcher John Lackey gave up the Cardinals lone run in the seventh, causing a few tense moments. But long before the final out, it began to feel like Fenway Park was hosting a victory party instead of a ballgame.
Slugger David Ortiz — a fan favorite and MVP of the series — hit a remarkable .688 in the six games, with two home runs and six RBIs. Asked how he felt about winning his third World Series ring, Big Papi was stumped.
“I don’t know yet. Tomorrow I can answer that question,” he said.
Ortiz was more prepared to talk about how Boston had managed to go from last place in 2012 to first in 2013. He gave credit to his teammates, who he said all contributed to the win. And he singled out Sox manager John Farrell.
“A body can’t function without having a good head and our manager was outstanding.” Ortiz said. “He showed all of us since day one that he was the masterpiece that we need to get to this level.”
Ortiz and many of his teammates also spoke of how the season began, with tragedy at the Boston Marathon. They say said that the day’s events helped pull the city, and the team, closer together.
And the World Series celebration is only beginning. City officials are expected on Thursday to announce plans for a parade.