Remembering Red Sox’s Keep the Faith: A Minor Miracle

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Never-say-die stories are one of sports mystic attractions.

This one happened in baseball . Although it is not as exciting as basketball here, it is still one of the most followed sport worldwide.

“Coming back from the dead” is a very good description of the story of the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

This group was sentenced “dead” when they trail 0-3 against the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALCS) of the Major League Baseball (MLB). As if that wasn’t enough, they were down 3-4 when they were to bat in the bottom of 9th inning of Game 4.

It didn’t help that this team isn’t too big on pulling through in big games before 2004.

The Red Sox were a dominant team when they were founded in 1901. They won the first MLB World Series in 1903 and added four more by 1918.

But after winning their 5th World Series title, they were suddenly blanked for unexplainable reasons. Before October 2004, the Red Sox haven’t won a World Series since their fifth. That is an 86-year title drought! Bostonians would call it the “Curse of the Bambino”.

With their hated rival’s all-time closer ready to drive the final nail to their coffin, 2004 would not be different from any of their previous disappointing seasons.

It for this reason that only a handful of Red Sox and their most loyal fans thought they could still pull out this one but that is exactly what they have done.

The Red Sox were able to squeezed wins in the tightly-contested Games 4, 5, and 6 before dumping a barrage of runs early in Game 7 and pull probably the greatest comeback in all of sports.

Red Sox routed early

Games 1 and 2 were played at New York and the Yankees disproved the notion that this would be a close match.

They erected a commanding 8-0 lead after six innings in Game 1. Although the Red Sox went to score 5 runs in the 7th and 2 more in the 8th to stay in the game, the Yankees quickly responded with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th to seal a 10-7 victory.

Game 2 isn’t any different. The Yankees quickly scored a run in the 1st inning and add 2 more in the 6th while limiting the Red Sox to just 1 run in the 8th for a 2-0 series lead with the venue relocating to Boston for the next 3 games.

Game 3 was even worse. As in the previous games, the Yankees quickly got to score first with 3 runs in the 1st inning although the battle became tight as both team scored 6 runs each after 3 innings.

From this point on, it was all Yankees. When the game was over, the Yankees collected 22 hits resulting to a 19-8 victory. This made the Red Sox the 26th team in MLB playoff history to face a 0-3 deficit.

Just how bad the situation is? No basketball or baseball professional team has overcome a 0-3 deficit up to this point.

In baseball history, there were only two other teams who were down 0-3 that were able to force game 6, the 1998 Atlanta Braves and 1999 New York Mets, and neither team won, losing 4-2 each time.

Add the fact that the final two games will be played in New York against a nemesis that seemed to always get their number through the years.

Multiple contributions set the reversal

The start of Game 4 gave Boston glimmers of hope. For the first time in the series, the Yankees failed to cross the plate in the 1st inning.

They eventually scored first when Yankee Alex Rodriguez belted a 2-run home run over Fenway Park’s Green Monster.

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, the series MVP, countered with a single in the 5th that drove in 2 runs to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. The Yankees quickly erased it in the next inning with 2 runs for a 4-3 lead that remained until the top 9th.

This means the Red Sox were down to their last three chances to reverse the outcome at least for this game.

Not to mention, on the mound in pitcher Mariano Rivera, baseball’s greatest closer and the all-time saves leader pitching to the Sox’s 7th, 8th and 9th hitters.

The Red Sox should be “clinically dead” and the series should be over by now.

Then, the wonder of wonders happened.

Kevin Millar, the first batter up and most vocal about a reversal, patiently worked for a lead-off walk. He was promptly replaced by speedster Dave Roberts. After several pick-off attempts, Roberts went on to steal 2nd base.

Bill Mueller, the second batter, then drove him in to tie the game, send it to extra innings and breathe life back to the Red Sox.

After 2½ scoreless innings, Ortiz hammered a homerun dragging along Manny Ramirez to start the comeback.

Game 5 started differently as the Red Sox scored first in this one. Ortiz droves in a run in a bases-loaded walk then crossed the plate himself for a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees again erased this lead, scoring one in the 2nd and three more in the 6th, to take the lead, 4-2. In the 8th, Ortiz homered and Roberts, pinch-running again, was driven in by Jason Varitek to tie the score.

Both teams would play 6½ scoreless innings more, including extras, before Ortiz drove in Johnny Damon to become the 3rd team to force Game 6.

This 14 inning game would become the longest American Division play-off game at 5 hours and 49 minutes.

Game 6 showcased the legend of the Bloody Sock, another stumbling block added to the already big heap. Pitcher Curt Schilling suffered a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle and had to be sutured in place in an unprecedented procedure by Red Sox team doctors.

Schilling, however, went on to pitch the game of his life. He blanked the Yankees in 7 innings and was gifted by Boston’s batters with a 4-run 4th inning to lead the Red Sox to a 4-0 lead. As he left the game, his white sock become visibly red as it was soaked with blood.

The Red sox eventually became the 1st team in MLB playoff history to face a 3–0 series deficit and force a Game 7 with a 4-2 victory.

As history beckoned and Boston aimed, Ortiz, Damon and Derek Lowe made sure they will etch the team in the record books. They lead the rout, 10-3, and complete the turnaround.

“Big Papi”, as Ortiz is fondly called, hit a 2-run homer in the 1st to set the tone. Damon followed it up by sending the first pitch he saw in the 2nd to the right field bleachers for a grand slam and got another 2-run blast in the 4th.

Meanwhile, Lowe, pitching on just 2 days of rest, limited the Yankees to just a run.

Adding icing to the cake, the Red Sox gifted themselves and their fans with another astonishing record by sweeping the Saint Louis Cardinals in the MLB World Series. They became the first team to win eight straight post-season playoff games in the same season.

It is moments like these fans love to watch sports and these 2004 Red Sox know how to oblige by engineering their astonishing minor miracle.

By: ARMANDO BOLISLIS, story originally published on October, 2015

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