John Farrell is the third Boston Red Sox manager to win the World Series in his first season in charge, and only the second since 1918.
Terry Francona won it all in 2004 after taking over from Grady Little. Ed Barrow won the World Series in '18, his first season, and Jake Stahl did it in 1912.
'He provided solid leadership from Day 1. Players wanted to win for him, and that's huge.'- Red Sox owner John Henry on manager John Farrell
Farrell took over after a disastrous season in which Bobby Valentine led the Red Sox to a last-place finish in the American League East and their worst record in almost 50 years. The former Red Sox pitching coach, who had little success in a managerial stint in Toronto, had a smooth year in Boston with little of the clubhouse drama that had become common.
"He provided solid leadership from Day 1," Red Sox owner John Henry said Wednesday night after the team clinched the title with a 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. "Players wanted to win for him, and that's huge. They wanted to play for him, and they found a way to win it seemed night after night, somehow, some way."
Players also praised Farrell's leadership.
"We pretty much overhauled the whole dang thing," pitcher John Lackey said. "The chemistry was unbelievable in the clubhouse. You could feel it from spring training. But we had good ball players, too. Chemistry hasn't won anything, but it sure as heck helps when you really care about each other."
‘This is my guy’
John Farrell walked out to the mound, with two on and two out in the seventh inning of a five-run game. The Red Sox manager does not make that trip except to pull his pitcher.
But before he reached the mound, John Lackey was making his case, and quite forcefully: "John, this is my guy."
Farrell went back to the dugout without his pitcher. After a wild pitch and much talk about Grady Little, who notoriously and disastrously left Pedro Martinez in too long in the 2003 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, Lackey walked Matt Holliday to load the bases.
Junichi Tazawa finished the inning, and Lackey's win was secure.
"I wanted to stay in there. I wanted to get that last out in the inning," Lackey said. "But the bullpen guys shut it down. It was a great team win for a great team."
Lackey allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to help the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday night and clinch their third championship in 10 years. Lackey, who also won Game 7 of the 2002 for the Anaheim Angels, is the 11th pitcher in baseball history to win two World Series clinchers, and the third to do it with two different teams.
Not Lack-ing in talent
Lackey joins Jimmy Key (with Toronto in 1992 and the Yankees in '96) and Catfish Hunter (with Oakland in '72 and the Yankees in '78). He is the only one of the three to win both games as a starter.
For the oft-criticized member of the fried chicken and beer-brigade involved in the team's September 2011 collapse, it was a bit of redemption. Lackey missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery, but he was 10-13 with a 3.52 earned-run average while receiving bad run support this year.
He was the losing pitcher in Game 2, allowing three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, then he came out of the bullpen in Game 4 and pitched a perfect inning as Boston tied the series at two games apiece. On Wednesday, he allowed one run on nine hits and a walk, striking out five.
Lackey had a rough relief outing for the Angels in the 2002 Series before giving up three and then one run in a pair of starts. He allowed four hits and striking out four in the clincher against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.
"That was a long time ago, man," Lackey said this week. "I think most of those guys in that game aren't even playing anymore."
A rookie then, Lackey is now a veteran of a dozen seasons with two World Series rings. Back then, he said, he was just trying to get the game to the bullpen in good shape.
"My job was just basically not to screw it up," he said.