As the postgame awards ceremony took place on the field, Kelli Pedroia turned to her husband and said, “Get up there. You should go up there.” But Dustin Pedroia shook his head. He preferred to watch his teammates on the Fenway Park stage from about 20 feet away, nearly swallowed by a crowd of reporters and his teammates’ families. With his 13-month-old son Cole in his arms, Pedroia watched Koji Uehara accept the ALCS MVP and David Ortiz give his celebratory speech.
“The fun part for me is watching all the guys,” said Pedroia. “We worked so hard and I’m proud of everybody. I kind of want to sit back and watch everybody.”
When the ceremony ended, Ortiz shouted at Pedroia, “Let’s go, bro.” And Pedroia dutifully sprinted off the field, into the dugout and through the clubhouse doors. Inside the Red Sox locker room, Pedroia, wearing goggles and a protective helmet, joined the celebration. With his beard dripping champagne, he reflected on the Red Sox American League Championship Series-clinching 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6, the Red Sox regular season, and the upcoming World Series against the Cardinals.
“We’re going to the World Series and nobody saw this coming,” said Pedroia. “That’s what’s so special about it. The guys have been through a lot here. So, we’ve just tried to find a way to play good baseball and believe in each other. And we’ve done that.”
Pedroia said the Sox wanted to advance to the World Series in six games.
“It was a big game,” said Pedroia, who went 1 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. “We didn’t want to face Justin Verlander in Game 7. And we knew Max [Scherzer] was going to be on his game. We were just trying to find a way to win this one. We were trying to be aggressive, but he was locating the ball so good. They’ve got a great team. Our guys played well. We did the little things to win. That’s why we won the series.”
Pedroia almost recorded a storybook moment in the third inning and nearly seized the main spotlight. Instead, Red Sox fans saw replays of Carlton Fiske waving his 1975 World Series homer into fair territory and wished it was the same for Pedroia. But it was the opposite. Pedroia took a fastball in the high-90s from Scherzer and launched it to left field over the Green Monster. Running down the first base line, Pedroia tried to wave the ball fair, but no luck. It was foul by inches.
In fact, the ball passed so close to the left field foul pole that its shadow could be seen on the pole’s yellow surface. It was so close Sox manager John Farrell requested the umpires review the play. It remained a long foul ball and the Sox’ dreams of an early 3-0 lead vanished with the ruling.
The at-bat finished with Pedroia grounding into a double play.
With every clap, every shout of encouragement, Pedroia appeared ready to will the Red Sox to victory. He was part cheerleader, part player.
“I just try to impact the game,” said Pedroia. “We’re trying to win, man. Nobody cares about what they do personally. It’s about the team. Nobody remembers what David hit in 2007 when we won the World Series.
“They just know they won the World Series. That’s how you’ve got to look at it. We’re all here together. We’re trying to play the game right and win.”
For that reason, Pedroia took special delight in Shane Victorino’s game-winning grand slam in the seventh off reliever Jose Veras.
“Vic’s swing was obviously the big blow,” said Pedroia. “I wanted to run around with him. I had a great view. He took a great swing. For Vic to stay back like that and drive it was unbelievable.”
And then, Pedroia looked around the clubhouse and went back to soaking in the celebratory moment.
Shira Springer can be reached at email@example.com.