The Cardinals’ way encountered a lengthy delay Tuesday as they attempted to leave St. Louis for whatever fate awaits them at Fenway Park.

What should have been a routine afternoon jaunt to start the final road trip of the 2013 season, instead left the Cardinals to spend more than seven hours as flightless birds. Their Delta charter plane to Boston — and tonight’s Game 6 of a World Series they trail three games to two — had mechanical difficulties, stranding the Cardinals, team officials, staff, and many families on the tarmac at Lambert Field. Grounded, the Cardinals awaited a new flight plan.

The metaphors write themselves.

“Everyone is just walking around,” said rookie pitcher Michael Wacha, who will start tonight’s game opposite Boston righty John Lackey. “Nobody is in a bad mood or anything like that. The attitude is pretty good.”

The altitude, however, remained an issue until the Cardinals boarded a new plane and got wheels up shortly after 8 p.m. St. Louis time.

Aptitude must come next to survive.

The Cardinals encountered turbulence (see?) in this best-of-seven championship against Boston in the unlikeliest of places, Busch Stadium, and in the unlikeliest of ways. The highest-scoring team in the National League with the league’s best ability to get on base and a record-setting knack for timely hitting has malfunctioned. The Red Sox held the Cardinals to three runs in the two wins that put Boston one shy of the trophy. The Cardinals have hit .218 in the Series, and their lone win at home came when a run scored on an obstruction call, not an RBI.

The Cardinals’ weird World Series — obstruction call to end one game, pickoff to end the next, and two losses from ace Adam Wainwright — only got weirder with the team’s marathon time-killing on the tarmac. When they finally arrived at Boston’s airport, at 11:05 p.m. (EDT), at least they knew where they go next. History must happen at Fenway this week. Either the Red Sox will clinch a championship at home for the first time since 1918, or the Cardinals will win Games 6 and 7 of a World Series on the road for the first time since 1934.

“We’re looking forward to it, honestly,” said outfielder Carlos Beltran. “We know we can win over there. It’s about finding a way to get the first game and push the series to a seventh game.”

The Cardinals are 8-1 in elimination games since the start of the 2011 postseason, and during that World Series they had to win Games 6 and 7 for the championship. But those were both at home. The road team has not won Games 6 and 7 in the World Series since 1979, and five of the last six teams to travel down 2-3 in a World Series ended their season in Game 6. No records have been kept on what a team does when down 2-3 in a World Series, playing at the away ballpark and coming off a seven-hour flight delay. This is new territory for everyone, including Wacha.

“It seems like every situation that everybody tries to build up around him, the better he pitches,” Matheny said, while sitting on the grounded plane. “Right now, we’re just anticipating him to stay the course.”

He will need help.

As the World Series returns to Fenway, the DH returns as a factor and Wacha won’t hit. Three of the four runs the Cardinals scored to back Wacha in Game 2 came only after the Red Sox committed two errors. In back-to-back games already this series, Boston has contributed to both Cardinals victories with errant throws to third base. The Cardinals’ lineup has needed the assist.

As a team, the Cardinals hit .330 with runners in scoring position — the highest average in baseball in at least four decades. They’re two for 12 (.167) with runners in scoring position in their past two losses, and eight for 33 (.242) overall. Even that’s misleading. Only one of those eight hits was an extra-base drive, and two of the eight were singles that did not drive in a run. The Red Sox are batting .205 as a team in this Series, but they have David Ortiz, the DH with 11 of their 33 hits and six of their 21 RBIs.

Three of Boston’s eight hits with runners in scoring position in this Series came in Game 5, and two of them were doubles, including the tie-breaker by catcher David Ross.

Boston has pitched around Yadier Molina and his .316 average in the Series and in Game 4 walked Jon Jay and his .143 average twice to face David Freese. Boston has offered him the opportunity to beat them. Freese does not have an RBI in the Series and is two for 12 with runners in scoring position this postseason.

The former World Series MVP, who had his career-defining moments in Game 6 against Texas two years ago, has “not done anything to change their mind either,” Matheny said.

Matheny has changed his lineup throughout the Series to spur more offense. In Game 4, Beltran stood at the plate when rookie Kolten Wong was picked off. In Game 5, Beltran was on deck when the final out was made – because he had been shifted back to cleanup.

“We’re always looking to see where we can get a little spark,” Matheny said. “We’re not afraid to do something to stir it up. But for the most part we have to trust what we’ve done so far. The thing we haven’t been doing lately is just really sitting back and trust in ourselves. I think we’ve been pushing too hard trying to make things happen.

“(The team needs) a good healthy reminder of what it took to get here and what kind of team we are,” Matheny continued. “There’s still a different gear that we have and it’s just a matter of finding that in the next couple of days. Obviously, finding it (tonight).”