The Red Sox are World Series champions, and they’re celebrating that accomplishment in front of their hometown fans for the first time since 1918.
Red Sox starter John Lackey battled through a bit of early shakiness to deliver 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball and the inspired Boston offense pounded rookie sensation Michael Wacha in a 6-1 Game 6 win over the visiting Cardinals on Wednesday night at a jam-packed and now-champagne-soaked Fenway Park.
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Lackey surrendered nine hits and a walk and the Cardinals seemed to make hard contact off him all night, but the St. Louis offense failed yet again to drive runners in. Junichi Tazawa, Brandon Workman and Koji Uehara combined to close it out.
The heroes on offense for the Red Sox were Shane Victorino, who opened the game’s scoring with a three-run double in the bottom of the third, and Stephen Drew, who emerged from his prolonged postseason slump to slug a solo home run in the fourth. Victorino — a sudden fan favorite in Boston — also had an RBI single.
It’s the third World Series championship for the Red Sox since 2004.
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Team of the century? They certainly have a nice head start.
The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.
The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.
In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.
Most of the time anyway.
Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:
One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.
The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.