When the Red Sox headed to St. Louis after losing World Series Game 2 at Fenway, I remarked that this 1-1 position was similar to the American League Championship Series after its first two games. But unlike the ALCS, the World Series momentum had shifted to the Cardinals because, while the Tigers won Game 1, the Red Sox dramatically rallied to win in Game 2 and headed to Detroit on that emotional high.
In Detroit the Red Sox won 2 of 3 games and came back to Fenway to finish the Series and become the 2013 American League champs.
The trip to St. Louis was about as good as anyone might reasonably expect. Boston again took 2-of-3 on the road and now return to Fenway in a strong position. With just one win in St. Louis, we were assured that there would be at least one game at Fenway. With the two wins we have the luxury of having two chances to get just one home win.
But as Rob Bradford points out, it’s not time to line the parade route just yet and, wisely, this team remains focused on winning one game at a time.
Mike Napoli know this pretty well. He was the likely World Series MVP in 2011 when the Rangers had the Cardinals down 3-games-to-2 heading back to St. Louis. In Game 6 the Cardinals rallied from being down 7-4 in the 7th inning to tie the game in the 9th. The Rangers went up 9-7 in the top of the 10th only to see the Cardinals tie the game again in the bottom of the inning. Finally, in the bottom of the 11th the Cardinals scored to win the game. The next day they won the Series’ final game 4-3 to become the 2011 World Champions.
Readers can say that this isn’t the same scenario in 2013, and it’s not. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, playing the same club is not the same as playing the same team. These are different individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, in 2011 the Cardinals returned home to finish the Rangers whereas this year the team with the 3-2 lead is heading back to their home park, where they can feed off the energy of the Fenway faithful.
Still, these teams have performed very similarly. The Red Sox have a slight lead in OPS (.585 to .577), but they trail the Cardinals in batting average (.218 to .205) and on-base percentage (.274 to .268).
Here’s a full look at the total batting stats for both teams through the World Series so far:
Through five games the two best teams in baseball are separated by 3 hits.
Get this over with
Throughout the season I’ve marveled at the Red Sox ability to put yesterday’s results, good or bad, behind them. Manager John Farrell, just the 7th manager to lead the Red Sox to the postseason in his 1st year at the helm, said after last night’s win “We’re excited to be going home in the position we are,” but that excitement is tempered by the need to get that one more win. “You show up February 1st,” Jon Lester said, “play 162, we’re at 180 now total, and it comes down to one game.”
It’s been an amazing, improbable, unforgettable, fun season. In some respects, as the Boston Globe’s Adam Kaufman writes, you almost don’t want it to end.
All the same, I think you’ll agree: I hope it ends on Wednesday. Let’s get this over with—and then let the real celebrations, not for a division win or even a League Championship, but for a World Championship finally begin.