A Game 4 victory for the Red Sox on Sunday night not only set yet another new standard for how to finish off a World Series game, but their 4-2 win also ensured that the two teams vying for the game's top prize will have to travel to Boston before either one claims the title.
For a second straight night, the final play went down in a way nobody had seen before, making for a weekend doubleheader of "What in the World Series just happened?" moments in St. Louis. The first Fall Classic game to end with an obstruction call was followed by the first to end with a pickoff and, perhaps fittingly, now it's all even.
This is a 2-2 Series, headed to a Game 5 in St. Louis on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX) with at least a Game 6 in Boston on Wednesday a certainty. Suddenly, the Series outcome is up for grabs -- historically speaking -- with 22 of the 41 teams to win Game 4 to even the Series having gone on to win it.
But let's just toss the trends and the scripts out for this one, shall we?
As the Road to the World Series takes another step toward a conclusion that is now a little further in the distance, two storied foes in their fourth meeting are making this one something completely new and different. Following seven-game victories for the Cardinals in 1946 and '67, and a four-game sweep for the Red Sox in 2004, this one is writing its own chapter in baseball history -- one crazy ending at a time.
While the walk-off pickoff was interesting, the real story Sunday was how the Red Sox used their newfound infusion of character and chemistry in the form of a three-run home run by Jonny Gomes and the back end of a final out that made history by Mike Napoli.
That it was Dustin Pedroia and then David Ortiz crossing home plate before Gomes chugged home, fist beating his chest, after his three-run dinger in the sixth was a perfect convergence of the old Sox way and the new one, the bearded Gomes meeting his new mates at the plate. In fact, it was Oritz making a dugout speech just before the rally that got things riled up for the Red Sox, and that's about all a player like Gomes needs.
"One thing I've fought for since I signed up for this game was the opportunity, whether that's a pinch-hit or a start," said Gomes, a key contributor on the field and in the clubhouse a year ago with the A's who was sought out by the Red Sox for that combination of qualities. "When my number is called, I got to be ready."
One of the other bearded men who was a stranger to the Red Sox clubhouse a year ago and met Gomes with a tug of the facial hair was Napoli, who would finally find his way to the field for the first time since the Series arrived in St. Louis. He took over for Ortiz -- 3-for-3 to continue his hot-hitting ways, at .727 for the Series -- at first base, and it was his tag of Kolten Wong off a snap pickoff move by Koji Uehara that ended the game.
It was another ending without precedent in World Series history, and it showed that this is a Series matching two teams that will find a way to win.
"Granted, the stage might be bigger, but this is consistent with the way we've responded to a tough night the night before, and we came in today fully expecting a very good game to be put together," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "That's just who these guys are, and they've shown it many times over."
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A rematch from Game 1 becomes the start of a whole new ballgame for the World Series, now reduced to a best-of-three affair.
When Jon Lester takes the ball for the Red Sox and Adam Wainwright goes for the Cardinals in Game 5, the Cardinals will have a sense of urgency with their last home game of the Fall Classic at hand and their veteran ace itching for some redemption.
While Lester was sharp in a victorious Game 1, Wainwright struggled with his command and allowed a key popup to drop in Game 1, so he's looking for another chance.
"I feel like I've made a lot of good adjustments to be ready for this next game to throw some quality pitches," Wainwright said. "I threw maybe four or five quality pitches the whole time I was pitching. Luckily to come away with just a few runs -- it could have been 10 instead of five."
In the 42 occasions a World Series has been tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win it all 27 times (64.3 percent). The Cardinals have some solid history being in this spot before, winning the Series eight of the 10 times they've been tied after four. The Sox aren't so fortunate, having lost all three Series they've been tied after Game 4 -- 1946 vs. the Cardinals, '75 vs. the Reds and '86 vs. the Mets.
With Sunday's result knotting things up, Monday's Game 5 will be followed with a travel day on Tuesday and at least a Game 6 on Wednesday at Fenway Park.
Monday's World Series game
Game 5: Red Sox (LHP Lester 3-1, 1.67 ERA postseason) at Cardinals (RHP Wainwright 2-2, 2.25 ERA), 7:30 p.m. ET Preview >
2013 MLB POSTSEASON
Wild Card: Rays 4, Indians 0
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers beat A's, 3-2
Championship Series: Red Sox beat Tigers, 4-2
Wild Card: Pirates 6, Reds 2
Division Series: Cardinals beat Pirates, 3-2 | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
Championship Series: Cardinals beat Dodgers, 4-2
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Game 5: Cardinals 6, Pirates 1, St. Louis wins series, 3-2
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Los Angeles wins series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Boston wins series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6
Game 5: Tigers 3, A's 0, Detroit wins series, 3-2
NL Championship Series
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13 innings)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0
Game 4: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2
Game 5: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4
Game 6: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0, St. Louis wins series, 4-2
AL Championship Series
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5
Game 3: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0
Game 4: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3
Game 5: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3
Game 6: Red Sox 5, Tigers 2, Boston win series, 4-2
World Series (All games on FOX)
Game 1: Red Sox 8, Cardinals 1
Game 2: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 2
Game 3: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2, series tied, 2-2
Game 5: Red Sox at Cardinals, Monday, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
Game 6: Cardinals at Red Sox, Wednesday, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
*Game 7: Cardinals at Red Sox, Thursday, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
* - if necessary