Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox are one win away from their third World Series title since 2004.
Imagine saying that to someone 10 years ago when Aaron Boone was running around the bases at Yankee Stadium?
But after another dominant effort from Jon Lester and three more hits from the amazing David Ortiz, that is exactly the position the Red Sox find themselves after taking two of three in St. Louis following a 3-1 win in Game 5 on Monday.
Now, needing just one more win, the Red Sox will return home, where they haven't clinched a World Series title since 1918.
The 2004 title will also be the one Boston fans hold near and dear in their hearts, but you'd have to imagine that a clinching win at Fenway Park would set off some kind of celebration for a city that was so fractured back in April after the marathon bombings.
Boston may have all the momentum, but nailing down that final win won't be as easy as it seems. Consider this, the Red Sox have lost the three other series that they were tied, 2-2.
And in two of those instances they won Game 5.
Plus you have to favor St. Louis in the next two pitching matchups, especially in Game 6 on Wednesday when the Cardinals will hand the ball to 22-year-old right-hander Michael Wacha.
Up until Big Papi's ridiculous World Series, Wacha has been the story of this postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA. He actually appeared human in his Game 2 win over the Red Sox, though, as he surrendered two runs in six innings.
He had allowed just one in his previous 29 2/3 frames dating back to his near no-hitter in his final regular season start. Batters are also hitting just .122 against him this postseason.
Boston, meanwhile, will hand the ball to as battle-tested a pitcher as there in righty John Lackey, who has been terrific this postseason, and, of course, clinched a world title for the Angels back in 2002 with a terrific Game 7 performance as a rookie.
Will Lackey be the guy who outpitched Justin Verlander in the ALCS and gutted through 7 1/3 innings in Game 2 of this series, or will he be the guy who allowed four runs in 5 1/3 frames to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS?
Lackey is as big of a wild card as there is in this series.
Then if it gets to a Game 7, it'd be Joe Kelly for St. Louis against Jake Peavy for Boston in a rematch of Game 3. Neither pitcher got out of the sixth inning in that one, and you'd have to figure it would be all hands on deck in a do-or-die game like that anyway.
And that includes St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and Lester, who joined Babe Ruth on Monday as the only Boston left-handers to amass three World Series wins.
It still amazes me that Ruth holds pitching records like that.
Speaking of Ruthian efforts, how good has Ortiz been? Why the Cardinals are even pitching to him is beyond me, but he went 3-for4 and drove in the first run on Monday and is hitting an astounding .733 this series. And let's not forget he was robbed of a grand slam by Carlos Beltran in Game 1.
Win or lose Ortiz is going to be the World Series MVP.
Before the series started I picked the Red Sox in seven simply because they had homefield advantage. Nothing has changed on my end. But if the Red Sox do wind up winning they are going to have to earn it.
Buckle in, it's going to be a fun few days.