BOSTON — When Shane Victorino signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in the offseason, they were coming off a last-place finish that was their worst in almost half a century. They had fired their manager for the second year in a row.
He believed they could turn it around. And quickly.
Victorino brought the Red Sox one big step closer to completing their comeback, sending them to the World Series with a seventh-inning grand slam that gave Boston a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series on Saturday night.
The Red Sox will open the Series on Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they swept in 2004 to end their 86-year title drought. The Cardinals won the NL pennant Friday night by eliminating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. It will be the first World Series between the teams with the best record in each league since 1999.
“It’s one of those moments you live for,” Victorino said as he wandered around Fenway Park while Red Sox fans serenaded him with his theme song, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” and its chorus, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right.”
“Just listen to the crowd,” Victorino said, referring then to the Boston Marathon bombings that left the city reeling during the first month of his first season in town. “The one thing I came here to do is to be a part of this city. With all we went through as a city, there’s definitely a bond.”
Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the sixth and 21-game winner Max Scherzer protected it until the seventh, when Boston loaded the bases on a double, a walk and an error by rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias, traded by the Red Sox in July.