BOSTON -- World Series. Game 6. Fenway Park. That's a combination that evokes one of the most famous home runs in Fall Classic history. In the 1975 Series, Carlton Fisk used every bit of body language he could muster to urge his long fly to left off Reds reliever Pat Darcy to stay fair in the bottom of the 12th inning. It did, keeping Boston's hopes alive for another night, before The Big Red Machine prevailed in Game 7.
The next chapter of the Red Sox's World Series saga will be written Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, 8:07 p.m. first pitch). The details remain to be revealed, but the stakes are simple: a Sox win gives them their third World Series championship in the past 10 years, while St. Louis needs a victory to force a decisive Game 7 on Thursday night.
The Red Sox last celebrated clinching a championship on the historic parcel of land surrounded by Lansdowne, Van Ness and Ipswich Streets and what is now known as Yawkey Way in 1918. That happened when they beat the Cubs, 2-1, also in Game 6. And there are a few interesting notes that came out of that game.
Both Red Sox runs were unearned. The official attendance was 15,238. A young pitcher-outfielder named Babe Ruth came in as a defensive replacement in left in the top of the eighth. And it was the fourth time Boston had won it all in seven years; it would be 86 years later before the club did it again. Not surprisingly, then, the buzz surrounding Wednesday's game has built to a crescendo.
"We're not out of it," said Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who took the loss in Game 5 on Monday night. "I fully believe that our team can go into Boston and win two games. In the postseason, pitching always rules."
The pitching matchup Wednesday night will be a reprise of Game 2, sensational 22-year-old rookie Michael Wacha for the Cards against Red Sox veteran John Lackey. Wacha got the better of the first meeting of the right-handers, getting the win while allowing just two runs on three hits in his six innings.
"What more can you say about this guy?" asked second baseman Matt Carpenter rhetorically. "He's got his own highlight tape."
Will Boston's hitters be able to adjust the second time around? There's not enough of a track record to know for sure. Yes, Wacha was just as effective against the Dodgers when he faced them a second time in the National League Championship Series. But his nine regular-season starts were against nine different teams. And there's also this: Wacha's splits this year were markedly better at Busch Stadium (2.15 ERA, .174 opponents' batting average, .504 OPS) compared to on the road (4.34 ERA, .316, .814). He did, however, beat the Red Sox at Fenway in Game 2.
"Michael is very consistent with how he approaches the game. It seems like that with every situation everybody tries to build up around him, the better he pitches," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We want him to not really focus on the big picture of exactly what is going on. What we want him to do is go out and make one pitch at a time. There's time for summations later."
Wacha said he expects the atmosphere to be incredibly raucous, but insisted he won't let it faze him.
"I don't think anything will be much different," he said. "I try to approach every game the same. I imagine it's going to be crazy but I'm not going to pay any attention to it."
It's not that Lackey pitched poorly, either. He allowed just three runs in 6 1/3 innings in Game 2, while adding a scoreless inning of relief in Game 4. And Lackey has experience in these situations. He was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels against the Giants.
"You've got to treat all of them like that at this point of the year," Lackey said. "They're all big games."
With the return of the designated hitter, Boston will be able to put torrid David Ortiz back at DH and start Mike Napoli at first. And of the previous 62 times a team has taken a 3-2 lead in the World Series, it has gone on to win it all 66.1 percent of the time. Still, the Red Sox know nothing is guaranteed.
"As a team, we do a really good job of focusing on the task at hand," said catcher David Ross, who had the game-winning RBI Monday night. "We're excited, but we know there's a lot of work left to do. That's a really good ball team over there. They're not giving up."
World Series. Game 6. Fenway Park. This will be the fourth time that trifecta has come in. The Red Sox have won each of the previous three.
Wednesday night will echo 1967, when the Red Sox, down three games to two, needed to beat the Cards to force a deciding seventh game. St. Louis scored twice in the top of the seventh to tie the score, but Boston responded with four in the bottom of the inning to win.
Right fielder Carlos Beltran said he's looking forward to the challenge.
"Being able to win the second game shows us we can win over there," Beltran said. "We just have to find a way to win [Game 6] and push it to a seventh game. We have the same confidence in [Wacha] as we have in Wainwright, so it's a good feeling."
World Series. Game 6. Fenway Park. Those words conjure up memory of a lot of history. One way or the other, more will be made Wednesday night.
"With no disrespect to history or to Carlton Fisk, you know, it's an iconic video and a highlight that is shown repeatedly, and one of the more memorable swings that probably has taken place in this ballpark," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "But hopefully there's somebody [Wednesday] night that can wave their arms just the same."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.