Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Fenway to be frenzied as Red Sox seek to clinch World Series

BOSTON — They busted the curse in 2004, in St. Louis of all places, then further buried it three years later in Colorado.

But for all of the angst-ridding, life-changing success the Red Sox have had in the past decade, there is still one thing they haven't done in nearly 100 years: clinch a World Series at home in Fenway Park.

"Since 1918," historically versed Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "Nineteen eighteen."

They will be poised to party tonight at the old cathedral on Yawkey Way with the first of two chances as the World Series resumes with Sox veteran John Lackey on the mound against Cardinals rookie sensation Michael Wacha in Game 6. If they need the other, it will be Thursday, Halloween night, in what already has been labeled the Green Monster Mash.

The Red Sox players are eager to see just how crazed the atmosphere will be around town today and how cacophonous it will be at the ballpark tonight.

"I can only imagine what Fenway's going to be like, what the city's going to be like, how much excitement there is," Sox outfielder Shane Victorino said.

"Raucous, that's a good adjective," outfielder Daniel Nava said.

"Oh, man, I guarantee it's going to be wild," designated hitter David Ortiz said after Tuesday's workout. "We've got the best baseball fans, and they really enjoy this."

They certainly will pay for the privilege: At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the cheapest price to get in tonight was $983.75, and that was for standing room only. A bleacher seat was available for $1,047.

And what would it be like if they win and are celebrating before the Fenway faithful?

"I don't know, but I can't wait to find out," said Gomes, the former Ray.

"I hope I'm a part of it. I think it would be one of the biggest wins in sports history if you ask me — in history."

There isn't much to guide the Sox from the last time it happened, on Sept. 11, 1918. (Most of the tweets and Facebook posts seem to have been deleted.) Woodrow Wilson was president. World War I was raging. Prohibition was looming.

The Sox beat the Cubs in Game 6 with Carl Mays on the mound and Babe Ruth — who had already started and won two games in the Series — a defensive replacement in leftfield.

In the 94 seasons since then, the Sox have twice walked into Fenway, albeit under slightly different circumstances, with the chance to do it again.

In 1967, against these same Cardinals, they came home down 3-2, broke open a close Game 6 to extend the Series but were shut down and nearly shut out by Bob Gibson, who beat them with his third complete game of the Series.

In 1975, they came home from Cincinnati down 3-2, won Game 6 — Carlton Fisk hit kind of a famous homer — but blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7 and lost it when Joe Morgan singled in Ken Griffey with two outs in the ninth.

But this time, the Red Sox have history on their side.

Teams with 3-2 leads have won the Series 41 of 62 times (24 in Game 6). Teams coming home up 3-2 have won 20 of 26. The last to fall short was the 1979 Orioles, to Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals — who overcame a 3-2 deficit at home to beat Texas in 2011 and, for what it's worth, a 3-2 deficit on the road in 1934 against Detroit — would of course like nothing better than to spoil Boston's party.

And the best way to do that, manager Mike Matheny said, is to tune out everything but what ultimately matters, which is finding a way, any way, to win tonight's game.

"The guys know what we have to do: We have to play the game," he said. "They have to lock arms, trust each other and play the game the right way.

"Most of it is going to be the mentality of not buying into any kind of stats, any kind of predictions, any kind of odds."

The Sox are trying to have it both ways, focusing on tonight's game but welcoming whatever residual benefits history provides.

"I don't know what happened in 1918," Ortiz said. "But (tonight) we're going to try and make it happen and make people proud and happy here in Boston."

That's putting it mildly.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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