Red Sox Memories: Shane Victorino’s ALCS Grand Slam

A look back at Shane Victorino’s grand slam in Game 6 of the 2013 ALCS that helped launch the Boston Red Sox to the World Series.

While the 2013 Red Sox did not break curses or set records, they had a deeper level of importance to the city of Boston. Shane Victorino‘s Game 6 heroics helped them achieve history.

The Red Sox were not supposed to win the ALCS. They weren’t even supposed to be in it. The plan for 2013 was to be a rebuilding year, one in which their veteran core would keep the team afloat while younger players had time to develop, hopefully shaping the Red Sox into a contending team in the future. As a result, GM Ben Cherington made a few small market signings of veteran players during the offseason. Among those was Victorino.

Victorino was a speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who had three Gold Gloves and two All-Star nominations under his belt. However, Victorino had just turned 32 in November and was coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. The three years and $39 million that the Red Sox gave him did not come without scrutiny.

The criticism quieted as Victorino cemented himself at the top of the lineup and the Red Sox cruised to the best record in the American League behind their newly signed players. Even so, as they took the field at Fenway Park for Game 1 of the ALCS, many believed that the reigning AL Champion Detroit Tigers would be the ones to represent the junior circuit in the World Series.

After all, Detroit had one of the best offenses in MLB, headlined by Miguel Cabrera–who would win his second consecutive MVP after that season–and Prince Fielder. Their lineup was so deep that Omar Infante, who had hit .318 that season, was batting seventh.

Furthermore, the Tigers rotation had three 200 strikeout pitchers, something that had been done only twice before in history. AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez would start Game 1, Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer would start Game 2, and All-Star Justin Verlander would face the Red Sox in Game 3 at Comerica Park.

After splitting the first four games, the Red Sox managed to win a pivotal Game 5 in Detroit. They returned to Fenway for Game 6, hoping to close out the series.

Scherzer shut down the Red Sox bats for six innings, but a Johnny Damon double, a strikeout, and a walk got Scherzer pulled from the game. Jacoby Ellsbury proceeded to reach on an error by Jose Iglesias, and Victorino stepped to the plate facing Jose Veras, trailing by one run. Victorino had hit just .087 to that point in the series and looked completely lost at the plate after flailing at two curveballs in the dirt.

But Shane Victorino did not miss Veras’s third curveball, sending it deep into left field. By the time it had landed, the Red Sox had reclaimed their lead.

The Flyin’ Hawaiian rounded first pounding his chest and raising his finger to the sky, while 38,000 fans filled Fenway with a deafening roar.

The Red Sox went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in six games, bringing home the third championship since the start of the century. However, the importance of this season transcended records or trophies. The Marathon bombings in April had shaken the city of Boston, and the 2013 Red Sox were able to help us heal.

While Victorino’s grand slam may not be a legendary moment to the average baseball fan, the people of Boston will never forget it.