x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Red Sox finish Tigers, take spot in World Series

Boston will face National League champions St Louis in a re-match of the 2004 World Series beginning Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Shane Victorino, left, hit a critical grand slam on Saturday night to propel the Boston Red Sox into the World Series. Al Bello / Getty Images / AFP
Shane Victorino, left, hit a critical grand slam on Saturday night to propel the Boston Red Sox into the World Series. Al Bello / Getty Images / AFP

Agence France Press

Shane Victorino clubbed a grand slam in the seventh inning to lift Boston to a 5-2 victory over Detroit, sending the Red Sox to their first World Series since 2007.

Boston, which also reached the World Series in 2004, will face the St Louis Cardinals beginning Wednesday at Fenway Park.

“I can’t sum it up,” said Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes. “To be able to make history and go to the World Series with the Boston Red Sox is pretty special.”

The defending American League champion Tigers didn’t put up much of a fight over the last two innings in front of a crowd of 38,823 Saturday at Fenway Park.

Boston reliever Craig Breslow tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and then Japanese dynamo Koji Uehara iced the victory in the ninth by striking out Jose Iglesias for his third save of the series and fifth of the play-offs.

Boston was down a run heading into the seventh with Detroit ace Max Scherzer on the mound. Scherzer was considered the best pitcher in the American League this year.

With two men on base and one out in the inning Scherzer gave way to Detroit’s bullpen pitchers and that is when the game started to go south for the Tigers.

Gomes opened the inning with a double that almost cleared the top of the towering left-field Green Monster wall and then Xander Bogaerts walked.

Pitcher Drew Smyly relieved Scherzer and got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit into a possible double-play. But Tiger shortstop Iglesias couldn’t handle the grounder up the middle and his error loaded the bases.

“If there is a will, there is a way. We have one rope to pull on and we are all pulling the same direction,” Gomes said.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland then brought in reliever Jose Veras, who gave up the grand slam to Victorino.

It was the second career play-off grand slam for Victorino, who also hit one off CC Sabathia five years ago in the second game of the Major League Baseball semi-finals when he played for Philadelphia.

“They deserve to win. They beat us,” Leyland said.

Boston closer Uehara continued to impress, pitching six scoreless innings in this series.

Even though he appeared to be calm and collected on the mound, Uehara said he was a bundle of nerves inside.

“To tell you the truth I almost threw up,” he said. “I am here in the World Series. I am excited for World Series and glad I got a chance to be part of this.”

Prince Fielder’s woes continued for the Tigers, as the first baseman has now gone 18 straight play-off games without an RBI. Fielder also bungled a base running opportunity by getting tagged out in a run down at third base instead of trying to go home on the play.

“I just want to say one thing. This is our series,” said Red Sox David Ortiz, who hit a dramatic grand slam in Boston’s 6-5 win in game two of the series.

Boston starter Clay Buchholz allowed two runs on four hits and struck out four in five innings. Buchholz was an terrific 12-1 during the regular season but hadn’t pitched well in the playoffs heading into Saturday’s game six.