ST. LOUIS — Pedro Martinez knows champions. Nine years ago Sunday night, he became one here under a blood red moon at the old Busch Stadium when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.
When Martinez looks at the 2013 Sox — the team that absolutely everybody counted out before Opening Day — he sees a wolfpack.
He sees the Big Dog, two-time champion David Ortiz, and a pack of predators with a sense of cunning and resilience.
Their methods are no secret. From the last howls of April’s cold winds to the first October freeze, they have taken their wounds, regrouped, and come back hunting.
“They draw a plan to kill,’’ Martinez has said several times in recent weeks, “and they feed everybody.’’
They killed the Cardinals Sunday night, feeding hope to a shaken fandom after the devastating walkoff loss on an unprecedented obstruction call the night before. They responded after a pep talk from the Big Dog, breaking open a 1-1 game in the sixth inning with a single by Dustin Pedroia, an Ortiz walk, and a memorable three-run homer by Jonny Gomes.
The big inning propelled the Sox to a 4-2 victory and evened the Series at two games apiece.
“We’ve seen it many times,’’ manager John Farrell said. “Granted, the stage might be bigger, but this is the constant way we’ve responded to a tough night. We came in [Sunday] full expecting a very good game to be put together. That’s just who these guys are.’’
They’re the Resilient Sox. The Cardinals, who jumped ahead, 1-0, in the third inning, had not lost in seven tries this postseason when they scored first.
Not this time.
“This is a team that comes to play every single night,’’ setup man Craig Breslow said. “You saw that again tonight. We fell behind early. Then there was Jonny with a huge home run.
“We knew we were going to be able to turn the page on what happened [Saturday] and move forward,’’ Breslow said. “Now we’ve got a best-of-three series ahead of us.’’
The ever-elusive momentum is theirs again, thanks in part to the arm-weary Clay Buchholz surviving four innings and Felix Doubront pitching superbly in middle relief (he surrendered one run over 2⅔ innings) before the back end of the bullpen held on, thanks in part to John Lackey’s cameo in a scoreless eighth.
“We’ve got a lot of pros in this room, a lot of guys who have seen a lot of different things,’’ Lackey said. “One game is not going to affect us too much one way or the other. We’ve got to come back and do the job and compete the next day.’’
David Ross caught the parade of six Sox pitchers
“We have a real resilient team,’’ he said. “We play for each other and care for each other. That’s No. 1. We have guys out there like Jonny who would run through a wall for anybody on this team.’’
The fastest of them may be the base-stealing specialist, Quintin Berry.
“If one guy doesn’t get the job done, somebody else will,’’ Berry said. “It’s somebody new every night. David’s doing his thing, and we aren’t necessarily all falling right behind him, but when we can, somebody steps up, like Jonny did tonight.’’
It was Sox reliever Ryan Dempster who fielded the home run by Gomes into the Boston bullpen. He tossed the ball to Gomes after the game amid a media crush.
“We just keep fighting,’’ Dempster said. “We know we have a tough chore every single time we face these guys because they’re such a tough team. Every game matters, and we just come in each trying to win that game. That was our focus today. There really was no talk about [Saturday’s loss] at all.’’
After four games of the World Series, the Red Sox are hitting just .189 as a team. A look at the worst team averages in World Series history:
|Detroit Tigers||.159||San Francisco Giants||2012||L, 4-0|
|Cleveland Indians||.179||Atlanta Braves||1995||L, 4-2|
|New York Yankees||.183||Arizona Diamondbacks||2001||L, 4-3|
|Texas Rangers||.189||San Francisco Giants||2010||L, 4-1|
|St. Louis Cardinals||.190||Boston Red Sox||2004||L, 4-0|
|Detroit Tigers||.199||St. Louis Cardinals||2006||L, 4-1|
|Atlanta Braves||.200||New York Yankees||1999||L, 4-0|
Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org