Ackerman: This Is It!
BOSTON, Mass. (KMOX) — They arrived at Fenway Park this afternoon, via police escort in a pair of buses from the team hotel. Red Sox fans, halted by security as the team went by, craned their necks and snapped photos of the National League champions entering this historic ballpark on Yawkey Way.
The Cardinals didn’t blink. Twenty-four hours ago, they were laughing on an airplane and making the best of a seven-hour delay on the Tarmac at Lambert International Airport. Tonight, they have business to attend to.
It’s time to win a baseball game.
That’s it. For the Cardinals to think about tomorrow’s Game 7? Pointless. And the Cardinals know this.
It’s time to win a baseball game. One game.
The city of Boston expects the Red Sox to win this game, a victory that would set off the first world championship celebration on home turf in 95 years. Officials here have urged fans to take public transportation and to be safe tonight. Traffic is restricted, with road closures set up around the city. By the seventh inning, no vehicles will be allowed in the vicinity of Fenway. Thousands of police officers have been called in from all over New England to handle the crowd.
The question that hangs in the air, however, is the one bouncing around Red Sox fans from Harvard Square to Cape Cod: How will they handle Michael Wacha?
The Cardinals’ rookie sensation is one reason for the optimism that fills the visiting clubhouse today. Or the fact that this Cardinals team has a history of staving off elimination. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cardinals have come back from 3-2 series deficits seven times, the most in Major League history. The Red Sox and Twins are the next closest (3).
“There’s a lot of guys on this team that have had to do that,” general manager John Mozeliak told me in the hotel lobby. “You think back to ’11, even ’12.”
Yes, the most famous Game 6 in Cardinals history occurred two years ago when David Freese and Lance Berkman delivered game-tying hits after being down to their last strike. Freese finished the Rangers with a solo home run to center.
The most famous Game 6 in Red Sox history? A guy by the name of Bill Buckner let a ground ball go through his legs.
I’m just saying.
(Yes, I know about the Carlton Fisk home run in 1975. Just stay with me. ;))
The star of this World Series has been David Ortiz. The Red Sox slugger is 11-for-15 for a .733 batting average. His teammates? They’re hitting a combined .151. Ortiz has 11 hits. The rest of the team has 22.
Why are the Cardinals pitching to him again?
If you must pitch to Big Papi, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make him a little uncomfortable, would it? Ortiz looks like he’s sitting in a easy chair, enjoying a snack while he feasts on Cardinals pitching. Enough. Make someone else beat you.
Finally — and most importantly — the Cardinals need to build an early lead for Wacha. This was the NL’s best offense and the greatest team in the modern era with runners in scoring position. It’s time to go to work on Red Sox starter John Lackey, make him throw pitches and get the counts in their favor. Put runners on base…and put some doubt in the minds of this revved-up crowd at Fenway.
“The attitude of this club will be good,” Mozeliak told me. “The optimism is extremely high. Having somebody like Wacha on the mound is certainly encouraging.”
It’s time to win a baseball game.