A week ago today, I came home from playing golf at Dutch Elm Golf Course in Arundel, ME, to find my wife watching a Yankees v. Red Sox game on television. Not just any Yankee Red Sox game either. This one was a rerun of Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series.
If you’re a Red Sox fan, I don’t have to remind you that 2004 was the year that the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years and I also don’t have to remind you that they got to that World Series after coming back from behind three games to none and beating the hated Yankees four in a row and take the American League pennant.
October 20th was the ten year anniversary of the seventh and final game of that ALCS and NESN was showing reruns of the series. As a Yankee fan, I had a hard time showing any enthusiasm for the games but my wife, like most Red Sox fans, I am sure, was rooting very hard and very loudly for her boys to win.
The comeback against the Yankees, as I am sure many of you remember vividly, was the first time in the history of baseball that a team had come from being three games down to win a seven game series in the playoffs. The Yankees had won the first two games by scores of 10-7 and 3-1 and then got 22 hits to win 19-8 in Game 3 and no one could have believed that the Red Sox were not done for the season.
In Game 4, it looked like it was all over for the Sox as they trailed 2-0 going to the last of the fifth but they got three to go ahead 3-2. The Yankees came back with two in the top of the sixth to go up 4-3 and it went to the last of the ninth that way. With Mariano Rivera in to close, it seemed like the season was over. Then, third baseman Bill Mueller singled to drive in the tying run in the person of Dave Roberts, who had stolen second base when put in to run for first baseman Kevin Millar, and the game went into extra innings. In the last of the twelfth, left fielder Manny Ramirez singled and DH David Ortiz hit a home run to win the game 6-4. The Sox were still alive, barely.
Trailing 4-2 and appearing to be finished again in the eighth inning of Game 5, the Sox scored twice on a homer by Ortiz and a sacrifice fly by Trot Nixon to tie the game at 4-4. It stayed that way until the last of the fourteenth when, with Rivera pitching again, Damon singled, Ramirez walked and Ortiz drove in Damon with a single to give the Red Sox their second consecutive come from behind extra inning win against the best closer in baseball history in another elimination game.
The Sox won Game six, scoring four in the fourth, the big hit a three run homer by Mark Bellhorn, to win 4-2 behind a great pitching performance by Curt Schilling. Game 7 was almost anticlimactic as the Sox got a two run homer from Ortiz in the first, a grand slam from Damon in the second and another two run homer from Damon in the fourth to lead 8-1 after four innings and go on to win easily by a score of 10-3.
David Ortiz, who had 12 hits in 31 at bats in the series, with three home runs and 11
RBI’s, was named the series Most Valuable Player.
The Sox would go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals, winners of the National League pennant, in the World Series in four games. The Cardinals had won 105 and lost 57, a win total surpassed in the previous twenty years only by the 1998 Yankees, with 114 wins, and the 1986 New York Mets with 108. No team, in either league, has won that many games since 2004. Yet, the Sox handled them with ease, winning by scores of
11-9, 6-2, 4-1 and 3-0, outscoring them 24-12 for the series and holding them to three runs in the last three games.
Keith Foulke got the win in relief for the Sox in Game 1 and also got the save in Game 4. Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe started Games 2, 3 and 4 and all
three got the wins. Sox left fielder, Manny Ramirez, who got seven hits in seventeen at bats including a homer in Game 4, was named Most Valuable Player in the Series. Center fielder Johnny Damon also had six hits in 21 at bats including two doubles, a triple, home run, two RBI’s and scored four runs.
As sweet as it was for Red Sox fans to have their first World’s Championship in eighty-six years, the win over the Yankees in the League Championship Series, coming from so far down, was almost as good.
The final game in the 2004 series was on the road for the Sox and when they won again in 2007, the final game was on the road again, so it wasn’t until 2013 that they would clinch a World Series at home in Fenway. They defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, in Game 6, to take the series 4 games to 2 to clinch the World Series in front of the Fenway faithful for the first time since 1918, 95 years before.