The way in which the Boston Red Sox clinched the 2013 World Series title on Wednesday night was a fitting end to the season for the club. In winning Game 6 over the St. Louis Cardinals by the score of 6-1, the Boston Red Sox returned to the roots that had made them the most successful team in the major leagues this season. For so many of their victories throughout the regular season, the Boston Red Sox had relied on a tried and true method to secure wins. The club would use a couple of big run-scoring innings to obtain a lead and then use their proficient pitchers to make sure the lead stood up; the result was that during the regular season, 33 of the team’s victories, more than a third of their win total, were of the blowout variety. Their Game 6 victory was just their latest blowout victory as they were able to carry over what worked for them in the regular season into the postseason to accomplish the incredibly difficult task of winning a World Series title.
During Game 6, the two big run-scoring innings the Red Sox used to put away the St. Louis Cardinals for good were the third and fourth innings as the offense was finally able to decrypt the pitching of Cardinals starter Michael Wacha. Wacha might have limited the Red Sox hitters in Game 2, but he had no such luck doing so in Game 6. Instead, it was the Red Sox hitters who limited the effectiveness of Wacha by getting timely hits against him and also against Lance Lynn, who allowed runners he inherited from Wacha to score.
No hit was more timely for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday than the one right fielder Shane Victorino clobbered in the third inning with the bases loaded and two outs. Undaunted by facing the highest-leveraged plate appearance of the contest, Victorino rose to the occasion and slugged a double that cleared the bases, giving the Red Sox a 3-0 lead and a win expectancy of 83.4 percent; before Victorino’s hit, the Red Sox’s win expectancy stood at 58.0 percent.
In the fourth inning, the Red Sox again added three runs to the score after a Stephen Drew home run, Mike Napoli RBI single, and Shane Victorino RBI single pushed the Red Sox lead to 6-0 and increased their win expectancy to 96.2 percent by the end of the fourth inning.
The Red Sox only got three hits in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but they made sure that each of those three hits actually drove in runs, going for quality over quantity in the clutch hitting department.
Also performing well enough to meet the nebulous, ever-shifting definition of being clutch was starting pitcher John Lackey, who was far from his most dominant self on Game 6, at least not until it mattered most. Lackey lasted 6.7 innings and faced 30 Cardinals batters with a high number of those batters having success against him; Lackey allowed 10 runners to reach base against him (nine hits, one walk) and also threw two wild pitches.
As a result, Lackey found himself, through his own ineffectiveness, having to pitch with Cardinals runners in scoring position on 10 occasions. He was able to prevent the Cardinals from driving in a run in all but one of those occasions; in the seventh inning, Carlos Beltran hit a single off Lackey that gave the Cardinals their only run of the contest.
Lackey did not clean up every single one of his messes, though. After Beltran’s RBI single, Lackey threw a wild pitch and walked Matt Holliday to load the bases with two outs. He was then removed from the contest in favor of reliever Junichi Tazawa, who induced Allen Craig to ground out for the final out of the inning. The Craig at-bat was the highest-leveraged situation for a Red Sox reliever, and Tazawa handled it easily.
The Red Sox also received perfect innings from relievers Brandon Workman and Koji Uehara to close out the World Series victory for the club that had fielded the best team in baseball for the entire season.