It isn’t exactly tempting the wrath of the Boston gods anymore, ladies and gentlemen. “Party like it’s 1918.” So said a fan’s none-too-large placard in the Fenway boxes, while Koji Uehara was at his office in the top of the ninth Wednesday night, three outs standing between himself, his Red Sox, and hysteria.
Sorry, but nobody bunted a three-run homer Monday night. Nobody threw the winning run out at the plate from the bullpen. Neither Red Sox nor Cardinal committed something seen only among the hapless in Major League or on the 1962 Mets.
And maybe that was the problem with Game Five. It seemed too normal to belong to this Weird Series. The Red Sox proving they could beat the Cardinals 3-1 without pulling rabbits out of their hats or off first base just didn’t seem right.
You’d think Koji Uehara had pulled the proverbial rabbit out of his glove. Or, that he nodded, winked, wrote, “Look, Ma, game over” in the mound dirt before throwing to first faster than the proverbial speeding bullet. Turning the Cardinals’ swiftest pinch-running rabbit into a dead duck and securing the World Series as a two-games-each deadlock.
You’d have to hunt long and hard to come up with the last time the Red Sox nailed a postseason contest on a walkoff pickoff. It never happened before. To them or anyone else in the history of major league baseball’s postseason. And considering Game Three’s finish you’d have been safer betting on it to happen to the Red Sox.
It came forth within half an hour after Game Three ended with Yadier Molina in self-professed shock, Allen Craig sprawled across the plate in disbelief, the Red Sox slinking to their clubhouse, the Cardinals whooping it up between their dugout and the plate area. All because of an unusual but no-questions-asked correct obstruction call.
Even if he was lost to explain what just happened, manager John Farrell took it like a man.
Middlebrooks Saltalamacchia together sound like a gourmet New England coffee bistro. Forget the java. At the mere mention of those two names right now, and for who knows how many millenia to come pending the final outcome of this World Series, Red Sox Nation is reaching for the oxygen and the rye bottles. And leaving room.
As the World Series shifts to St. Louis and Busch Stadium, there was a lot to love and loathe about the first two games for both the Red Sox and the Cardinals. Most of what there was to loathe was how each team gifted the other a win; most of what there was to love was how each team took reasonable advantage when the other made mistakes.
So what’s there to love for each of them going to Game Three?
Want to know what we learned from World Series Game Two? Easy. The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t the only ones who can hand their opponent a game on an infield platter. When necessary, as it seemed to be Thursday night, the Boston Red Sox can be just as generous to just as much of a fault.
It’s not that the Boston Red Sox needed the help that badly Wednesday night, opening the World Series with a near-blowout win. But they certainly weren’t going to complain if the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to help their cause early enough and often enough.
Surely the Cardinals got the advance notices on these Red Sox. They turn at-bats into duels to the death. They can pitch up (also down, in, and out) whenever the heat gets near microwave level. And if you make a mistake on them, they’re not exactly inclined to give you a mulligan.
“This one hurt bad,” Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the Boston Red Sox yanked the pennant from them Saturday night, “because I thought we let one get away. This is one that’s going to stick with me.” Now the Tigers are going to have to let another one get away.
Leyland announced his resignation Monday, two days after the American League Championship Series ended for all intent and purpose on the hanging curve ball Jose Veras fed Shane Victorino in the bottom of the seventh. He’d hinted in this direction, apparently, in September, when he told general manager Dave Dombrowski “the fuel is running low.”
John Lennon once sang that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. The Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers learned the hard way Saturday night that baseball’s often what happens when you have other plans.
The Tigers planned to push this year’s American League Championship Series to a seventh game, even in Fenway Park, as best they could. The Red Sox, who may have planned only to pick up, dust off, and get respectable again after last season’s last place nightmares, planned only to avoid Justin Verlander in Game Seven as best they could.