Shane Victorino spread his arms wide like an airplane and took off from right field, tossing his glove high in the air as he approached the dogpile in the infield.
The Flyin’ Hawaiian arrived right on time.
Hitless in his first 10 World Series at-bats before missing two games with a bad back, Victorino hit a three-run double to break a scoreless tie in Game 6 on Wednesday night and send the Boston Red Sox to a championship-clinching 6-1 victory over St. Louis.
“My parents always told (me), ‘Take every moment. Live every moment. Love every moment. I just went up there and said, ‘Hey, I’m getting another moment,“’ Victorino said after the Red Sox claimed their third title in 10 years. “I missed two games. It’s time to shine, do what you can. I was able to get in a good hitter’s count, put a ball off the wall, enjoy every moment of it.”
Victorino also added an RBI single with the bases loaded in the fourth inning to give Boston a 6-0 lead. Victorino, who also reached the playoffs with Philadelphia each year from 2007-11, is now 6 for 8 with a major league record 20 RBIs with the bases loaded in his post-season career.
“Well, Shane Victorino has got a little bit of flair for the dramatic,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “The hits that he did record in the post-season couldn’t have been bigger and couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Whether it was in Game 6 against the Tigers or the three-run (double) here tonight.”
Victorino was part of a bargain-hunting binge — at least compared to the Red Sox shopping sprees of the past — that helped remake the team last winter after its worst season in nearly 50 years. Thanks to the more than $250 million dumped on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford deal, the Red Sox added Victorino along with Mike Napoli, David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Koji Uehara and Ryan Dempster.
With a new manager in Farrell and a returning core that included Series MVP David Ortiz, the Red Sox went from worst to first, winning 97 games and the AL East.
“We felt like this was a different group of players, completely selfless. A team with that many talented players being as selfless as they are,” general manager Ben Cherington said on the field as the team celebrated around him. “All they cared about was winning and each other. You just want the games to continue so we could be around each other more.”
Victorino earned a Gold Glove in right field while batting .294 with 21 stolen bases in the regular season. He hit .429 against Tampa Bay in the first round of the playoffs, but he was 2 for 24 in the AL championship series before hitting a grand slam to deliver the pennant to Boston.
He fell back into a slump in the Series.
Once again, he broke out of it in timely fashion.
“Our goal from Day 1 was to be the best team we possibly be,” Victorino said. “Hey, we’re world champs. Can’t believe it.”
Victorino sat out Game 4 and 5 in St. Louis because of tightness in his back, though Farrell said he could have pinch hit on Monday when the Red Sox won to take a 3-2 lead. Instead, he came back when the Series returned to Boston.
Batting behind Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes, Victorino came up with the bases loaded and the score tied 0-0 in the third inning, serenaded by the now-familiar Bob Marley chorus, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right.” He banged one off the Green Monster to clear the bases, thumping his chest as he took third on the throw home.
“It was a huge moment,” said Farrell, who dropped Victorino to sixth in the lineup and joked that it worked just as he planned. “Yeah, we scripted it. We knew he’d come up with the bases loaded twice.”
The Red Sox had three on and two runs already in in the fourth inning when Victorino singled to left.
“We knew somebody was going to do it. That’s how we are,” Napoli said. “He missed some games, was banged up, but he came through. He got some big hits for us and we wouldn’t be here without him.”