BOSTON — By the end of the fourth inning, Major League Baseball already had issued rules and regulations to the media that would be covering the World Series’ trophy presentation Wednesday night.
Sure, the email included the obligatory, “IF the Red Sox win Game 6 … ” But such a qualifier was not necessary.
The Red Sox led 6-0 at the time and, yes, it felt like it was over. What will be remembered as another highly successful season for the Cardinals (in a day or so) would be coming to an unfulfilling and unsatisfactory end. The final: 6-1.
For the second straight year, the Cardinals’ season ended with a three-game losing streak in late October. They saved their worst for last this time, too.
The Red Sox scored three in the third and three more in the fourth off postseason phenom Michael Wacha, and that was more than they would need on the way to becoming the first team to win three World Series in the 21st century.
More significantly, this would be the first the Red Sox clinched in storied Fenway Park since Babe Ruth won two games as a starting pitcher 95 years ago. As the packed house went crazy, the Cardinals retreated to their quiet, cramped quarters in the visitors’ clubhouse.
“Very disappointing,” said Wacha, who lost his chance to become the first pitcher in history to win five postseason games. “Everyone on this club wants that ring. I didn’t want to win it for myself. I wanted to win it for these guys who have been working their tails off all year. Whenever I have a poor outing like that, it hurts me even worse. I feel like I let the team down. It’s not a very good feeling, that’s for sure.”
Though his command wasn’t as sharp as it had been, Wacha held the Red Sox scoreless nearly a third of the way through. But with two out and the bases loaded in the third, Shane Victorino doubled off the Green Monster to clear the bases.
“Yeah, it was a mistake,” Wacha said. “Fastball (91 mph) right down the middle.” It was Victorino’s first hit in his 10th at-bat of the Series.
When Stephen Drew led off the fourth with a home run, you knew it was not Wacha’s night. Drew, who also was served a 91 mph fastball down the middle, was 1 for 16 at the time.
“My arm felt good, my body felt good, all my pitches felt good,” Wacha said. “I just made some mistakes and they made me pay for them.”
His offense had numerous chances to pick him up, but didn’t. The Cardinals outhit the Red Sox, 9-8, but as so often happened during the postseason, they could not come up with the timely hit. After hitting a record .330 with runners in scoring position during the regular season, the Cardinals went 1 for 9 in such situations in Game 6 to finish the World Series 9 for 42 (.214).
“Give credit to their pitching staff,” said Matt Carpenter, who went 3 for 5 in Game 6. “We’re not going to make excuses. They outplayed us.”
“Our offense during the postseason didn’t get going,” said Carlos Beltran after what he admitted could have been his final game with the Cardinals. “Our pitching did a good job. Offensively, we fell short.”
The bottom half of the order led the way in the falling-short department. David Freese, who had his grandest moment in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, came up with two on base in the second and the fourth innings but did not deliver. He went 0 for 4 and finished the World Series 3 for 19 (.158). He also stranded 32 runners during the postseason, the most in the majors.
The Cardinals did not get a hit from their shortstops until Daniel Descalso singled in the seventh inning and ended up scoring their only run. Rookie first baseman Matt Adams, so good down the stretch filling in at first base, took another 0 for 4 and finished the World Series at .136. Jon Jay hit .167.
With the Red Sox’s clubhouse attendants preparing for the ultimate champagne celebration, the Cardinals mounted a final chance to get in the game in the seventh inning.
With one run in, they had the bases loaded and the ideal man coming to bat. Allen Craig, the majors’ best hitter with runners in scoring position, already had singled twice when he stepped in against reliever Junichi Tazawa. Craig hit a hard grounder but right at first baseman Mike Napoli.
The inning was over and preparations for the Red Sox’s celebration continued on. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.