EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 30, 2013

One win away from Fenway's finest hour

SERIES: Would be first title clinched at Fenway since 1918

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — BOSTON — Ted Williams was just 12 days old, the Green Monster still was made of wood and there was no such thing 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 historic 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 at 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 with a 3-2 series lead. Sox right-hander John Lackey, who won the clinching Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie for the Angels, will face Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha. He 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 clinching drought, how Sox players rallied around this city during the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings tragedy, and 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 here 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 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 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.

Frantically and famously motioning with his hands to keep the ball fair as he headed down the first base line, Carlton Fisk blasted a solo homer off the left field foul pole in the bottom of the 12th inning to force Game 7.

“With no disrespect to history or to Carlton, 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, and .492 OPS. It posted a team ERA of 1.70 in its six-game World Series.

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

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

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

WORLD SERIES GAME 6

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 ERA this postseason).

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

Sox Series MVP Candidates: David Ortiz 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 the Fall Classic.

Sox Lineup: Shane Victorino (lower back tightness) will start in right field after sitting out Games 4 and 5. Jonny Gomes will start in left field. David Ross will catch. Daniel Nava will come off the bench.

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

Take the T: The Red Sox are encouraging fans attending Games 6 and a potential Game 7 or anyone who will be in Boston tomorrow evening to take public transportation. Several streets will be closed.