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Nineteen runs and 22 hits later, the New York Yankees took a commanding three-games-to-none lead in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox. After blowing out the Red Sox, 19-8, in the third game of the series, the Yankees pretty much signed a death warrant for their rivals and were on the verge of knocking out the Sox for the second straight year in the ALCS.
Joy filled the streets of New York. Visions of a twenty-seventh World Series Championship filled the minds of those who bled pinstripes. New York had once again trumped Boston.
215 miles south of the Bronx, the people of Boston only had one thought in mind:
Surprisingly enough, not again was exactly what happened.
With a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning and the best closer in the world coming in to shut the door, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Yankees wouldn’t sweep the series. Time and time again, the Yankees had called upon unlikely heroes to get the job done against the Red Sox. The least expected of players have broken the hearts of Red Sox fans. But in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera, the tables turned and the Red Sox called upon their own unlikely hero to get the job done.
After Rivera gave up a lead-off walk to Kevin Millar, Terry Francona chose Dave Roberts to pinch run, who was an immediate threat to steal a base. Mariano checked Roberts back to first several times before even throwing a single pitch. When Rivera threw his first pitch of the at-bat, Roberts wasted no time and was off to the races, stealing second base easily. Bill Mueller singled in Roberts, tying the game and forcing bonus baseball.
In the twelth inning, it was a likely hero that came through for the Red Sox. David Ortiz’s two-run home run off of Paul Quantrill not only gave the Red Sox the win but it gave a team hanging on by a thread a little bit of life.
Once again, the Yankees put themselves in a position to finish what they started entering the American League Championship Series. In the sixth inning, the Bronx Bombers took a 4-2 lead and put the game in the hands of the bullpen. But for a second straight night, the bullpen could not hold a lead.
David Ortiz led off the eighth inning with a solo shot and Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly brought the game into extra-innings, also for a second straight night.
As the game neared six hours long, the trend of things repeating themself two nights in a row continued.
“Who’s your Papi? Who’s your Papi?”
That’s right. Big Papi, David Ortiz, singled in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the team even more life; something extremely dangerous for a team with nothing to lose to have. The Red Sox become only the third team in history to force a Game 6 after trailing a series three games to none. After watching the Yankees spoil opportunity after opportunity, the Red Sox capitalized on the opportunities they got and forced the series back to the Bronx.
How many lives did this team have?
The game of the famous bloody sock.
The Red Sox held on to the fire they caught in games three and four and took an early 4-0 lead in front of 55,000 plus at Yankee Stadium. Red Sox starter, Curt Schilling did the impossible and pitched with a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle. Not only did he step on the mound with a torn tendon, which is impressive in itself, he pitched well; really well. The bloody sock would soon be famous after Schilling wore it proudly, throwing seven innings of one run ball.
In the eighth inning, Alex Rodriguez grounded out to Bronson Arroyo, who then proceeded to tag him out on his way to first base. A-Rod was then called out for interference, leading to an erruption of madness at Yankee Stadium. The game was delayed, Yankee fans threw garbage onto the field, Terry Francona pulled his players off the field, and Police Officers filled the field to prevent any riots that could emerge.
Was this a baseball game or a wrestling match in the WWE?
Yankee fans had really begun to sweat after losing Game 5. Coming into Game 6, Yankee fans felt how Red Sox fans had felt at the beginning of Game 4. Yankee Stadium was already a tense and hostile environment. A controversial call of the sort would only lead to more hostility and more tension. This was Yankees and Red Sox after all.
After the delay, it became evident that Alex Rodrgiuez performed sleight of hand and actually slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove.
Boston went on to win the game 4-2, forcing a game seven with potential history knocking at the door.
Could it be? Was the impossible turning into the possible? Was the improbable comeback going to happen?
The Red Sox wasted little time in making a believer out of everyone. David Ortiz, a thorn in the Yankees side the whole series, started the onslaught with a two-run home run, quieting Yankee Stadium. Johnny Damon joined his teammate and hit a grand slam in the second inning, leaving Yankee Stadium the quietest it had ever been before. And that was it.
The Yankees had nothing left in the tank to stage a comeback and the Red Sox completed the comeback, winning the game 10-3.
Throw out the chants of 1918. Silence the critics. Make history.
Boston could now say that they finally beat the Yankees. They not only beat the Yankees but left them in embarrassment and finally got the redemption they longed for. As much as every Yankee fan hates to say it, this was their time and they shined in fine fashion.
The Red Sox completed an incredible season and postseason run by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, winning their first championship since 1918.