BOSTON - The Red Sox are playing it cool, as they should.
Still one more game to win.
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This city's inhabitants?
Not so much, and it's hard to blame them.
Red Sox Nation, though hardly title-starved since snapping that pesky 86-year drought in 2004, is in a frenzy over the possibility of clinching a world championship at Fenway Park for the first time since Sept. 11, 1918.
The Red Sox lead the Cardinals 3-2 in the Series, which continues Wednesday night with John Lackey (2-1, 3.26 ERA this postseason) going against St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha (4-0, 1.00).
"I don't know what happened in 1918, but tomorrow we're going to expect to make it happen and make people proud and happy in Boston and New England," said David Ortiz, who has made it happen on offense practically by himself this series, hitting .733 (11-for-15). "I guarantee it's going to be wild. We've got the best baseball fans and they really enjoy this. Hopefully, we can get it over tomorrow and they get to enjoy it like they always do. Party time."
Lackey as a rookie beat the Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, but said neither that experience nor the likely ensuing craziness of closing things out Wednesday night was on his mind.
"It would be awesome," Lackey said yesterday before the Red Sox worked out. "As far as personally, I'm just thinking about executing pitches and trying to win a game. And hopefully we get to that point."
Red Sox manager John Farrell also tempered his emotions.
"I'm sure it's going to be an incredible atmosphere here tomorrow night, so if we happen to be able to share it with them, that would be great," he said. "But we've got to take care of business first."
Fans have not approached the possibility of celebrating a championship at home for the first time since Woodrow Wilson's presidency with the same even-temperedness. According to Forbes.com, as of Tuesday afternoon, the average price on the secondary market for tickets was $1,868 . . . and going up.
Forbes reported that "according to Jim Holzman, CEO of Ace tickets in Boston, prices began to move [Monday] night in earnest, with the average price for Game 6 going up $50 an inning over the course of Game 5 . . . For now, though, Red Sox tickets are as expensive as they get, and maybe the most expensive ever."
The Cardinals, as of early Tuesday night, had not arrived in Boston. Mechanical problems grounded their plane, on which they stayed into the early evening. Manager Mike Matheny, speaking to reporters via conference call from the plane, said the hostile crowd shouldn't impact his team.
"The ramped-up atmosphere is really one of the perks and benefits playing in the postseason," he said. "Guys have played their whole career, or dream about being in this atmosphere where fans are excited, into it, the place is packed and alive and buzzing. So that sort of thing isn't really something that's a detriment to our success."
Farrell couldn't help but shake his head regarding the prices some are willing to pay to be a part of that crowd.
"From a historic perspective, when you consider that an event like this hasn't been here in a couple of generations, there's a lot of people that are willing to take some extra cash and try to be a part of it," Farrell said. "We don't take for granted the passion that our fans have. And I think our guys get it. They understand their place here. And they understand what the Red Sox mean to this region, particularly this city. And I think there's kind of a rekindled relationship between this team and the fans."