Yes, I know it’s the off-season. Yes, I know the Yankees won the World Series this
year. Yes, I know Papelbon blew up in the ninth and led us to an early exit in the
ALDS. Yes, I know we’re all depressed and hoping for a better result in 2010. But
why not celebrate a bit? Time to cheer up and look at the best playoff plays / games
involving the Red Sox over the past decade.
Nixon Begins the Tradition – The Red Sox found themselves involved in a
pitcher’s duel in Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics after losing
the first two games in Oakland. Facing Rich Harden in the bottom of the 11th inning,
Trot Nixon came through with a two-run walk-off homer, setting off the Fenway
faithful and keeping the Sox alive to play another day, starting a tradition of
comeback wins the Red Sox became accustomed to for the remainder of the decade.
Ortiz Walks to New York – Everyone thought Anaheim was about to steal the
show in Game 3 of the 2004 ALDS following a Vladimir Guerrero grand slam in the
7th inning that tied the game 6-6. The game went to the bottom of the 10th, where
Mr. Clutch himself hit a two run series-ending home run over the monster to give the
Red Sox a chance to get their revenge against the Yankees.
Beckett and Pedroia Lead the Way – After a huge comeback series win
against Cleveland, Beckett began the 2007 World Series by striking out the first four
batters he faced in Game 1, and Dustin Pedroia hit an 0-1 count over the Monster
for a lead-off home run. Beckett went on to shut down the Rockies with 9 K’s and
just 1 ER over 7 IP, while the Sox offense never gave up the lead, going on to win
Lester Solidifies His Place as a Fan Favorite – After beating cancer, Jon
Lester came back to the Red Sox in 2007 and eventually went on to beat the
Colorado Rockies in the clinching game of the World Series. While not the most
dominant performance of his career and certainly not his most memorable outing, it
is without a doubt the most important game this young lefty has pitched thus far in
his career, making him a fan favorite in Boston long before he pitched his no-hitter.
And now, for the countdown:
10: Dice-K Hits the Jackpot
2008 ALCS Game 1 – Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched brilliantly on the road in
2008, going 9-0, and he continued that tradition in Tampa against the Rays. In a
pitching duel against James Shields, Dice-K carried a no-hitter through 6 innings,
ultimately striking out 9 over 7+ IP, while Papelbon sealed the deal in the 9th, leading
the Red Sox to a 2-0 shutout. Unfortunately, the Red Sox were unable to hold
on to the series lead, and lost to the Rays in 7 games.
9: Beckett Keeps the Series Alive
2007 ALCS Game 5 – The Red Sox entered Game 5 at Jacob’s Field on the
brink of elimination. After ex-girlfriend Danielle Peck was invited to sing the national
anthem (supposedly to try to get Beckett off his game), Beckett took the mound
against the Cleveland Indians and their ace, C.C. Sabathia. After giving up an early
1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Beckett settled in to strike out 11 Cleveland batters
over 7 shutout innings. Jonathan Papelbon shut down the Indians in the 9th, and the
offense routed Sabathia to a 7-1 win, with Beckett at the helm, to keep the dream
alive and take the series back to Fenway.
Regarding Danielle Peck’s Anthem performance:
“She’s a friend of mine. It doesn’t bother me at all. Thanks for flying one of my
friends to the game so she can watch it for free.”
– Josh Beckett
8: Miracle Comeback
2008 ALCS Game 5 – Down 7-0 and facing elimination at home, Pedroia
knocked a single to RF on a 3-2 count with runners on the corners to put the Red
Sox on the board with 2 down in the 7th. The next batter, Ortiz, wrapped a 1-0 count
around Pesky’s Pole, scoring Pedroia and Coco Crisp alongside himself to bring the
Sox within 3 runs of the Rays. In the top of the 8th, Papelbon shut down the bottom
of the Rays lineup in order, and in the bottom half, Jason Bay worked a 4-0 walk
against Dan Wheeler, allowing J.D. Drew to blast a hanging curve over the short
porch in RF. Crisp continued the rally later in the inning with a lengthy at-bat,
blooping a single into RF to score Mark Kotsay from second. Justin Masterson came
in to pitch the 9th, giving up a single and a walk before cleaning up the mess with a
ground ball double play to get out of the jam and kill a Rays rally. J.P. Howell retired
the first two Red Sox hitters in the bottom of the 9th, but gave up an infield single to
Kevin Youkilis, and an intentional walk to Bay. Drew arrived at the plate, and for the
second time that game, came up big with an RBI single over Carlos Pena’s head to
complete one of the biggest post-season comeback victories in the history of the
game, sending the series back to Tampa for Game 6.
7: Nancy Drew Solves the Case of the
2007 ALCS Game 6 – Hot on the heels of a dominant Beckett performance in
Game 5 to keep the series alive, the Red Sox came back to the Fenway faithful for
Game 6, hoping for another big win with Curt Schilling on the mound. Facing
another dominant pitcher in Fausto Carmona in the bottom half of the first inning,
Pedroia, Youkilis, and Ortiz worked the bases loaded with none out off two singles
and a walk. Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell followed up with a strikeout and flyout,
respectively. With the disappointing bat of J.D. Drew coming to the plate, Red Sox
Nation assumed the early rally would be stifled by Carmona and company.
Suddenly, Drew went from being one of Boston’s most disappointing players to being
a fan favourite in a matter of seconds by bashing a high fly ball to deep center field,
giving Grady Sizemore the best seat in the house to watch the beginning of a 12-2
Red Sox rout. In a game that was so far out of hand that even Eric Gagne was
allowed to pitch, Drew drove in a total of 5 runs and the Sox won while facing
elimination once again, forcing a Game 7.
“And with one swing, he erased an entire season filled with frustration, both for
him and these fans here at Fenway.”
– Joe Buck
“[Boston] is not an easy place to not do well, especially when you’re coming in
with some of the fanfare that JD [Drew] came in with but, if he wants to drive in five
again tomorrow, I think he’ll leave on a good note this winter.”
– Terry Francona
6: Angelic Performance
2007 ALDS Game 1 – Everyone knew Beckett could pitch in the postseason.
His Game 6 performance against the Yankees in the 2003 World Series solidified him
as a legendary Yankee killer. However, no one could have expected him to solidify
his post-season dominance against the Angels in arguably the most exciting, and
best, outing of his career. Locked in a pitching duel against John Lackey, Beckett
faced just 31 batters in a complete game shutout, striking out 8 over 108 pitches. In
a battle between two aces, Beckett won the war, and the offense supplied him with 4
runs, although he only needed the 1.
“Man, let me tell ya, some of the innings I watched on T.V. on the screen we have
downstairs … Even on T.V. [Beckett] looked filthy … I mean, he was right on.”
– David Ortiz
5: Ramirez Pulls Off a First
2007 ALDS Game 2 – Mike Scioscia clearly preferred to see Manny at the
plate in Game 2 over Big Papi. I guess he felt Papi was Mr. Clutch, and Ramirez was
slumping. To a degree, he was right. As a result, his pitching staff walked
Ortiz four times (twice intentionally), and took their chances with Ramirez. Prior to
the 9th inning, Ramirez went 0-2 with two walks and a K. However, after Francisco
Rodriguez gave up a lead-off single to Julio Lugo, and intentionally walked Ortiz one
last time, everyone knew something special was coming up. Manny hit the 1-0
pitch over the Monster and out of the park for his first ever walk-off hit in a Red Sox
uniform, giving the Red Sox a 6-3 win, and a 2-0 series lead.
“When you don’t feel good and you still get hits, that’s when you know – you are a
– Manny Ramirez
4: Mr. Clutch Does it Again
2004 ALCS Game 4 – The Red Sox managed to manufacture a run in the 9th
inning to stay alive, but it was up to Papi to ensure there was a Game 5. In the 12th
inning, Paul Quantrill took the mound at Fenway. After a lead-off single by Manny,
Ortiz knocked a Quantrill pitch into the Yankee dugout, walking off for the second
time in just 9 days, and winning the game for the Red Sox, setting up a chance for
Pedro Martinez to relinquish his pride in Game 5.
3: Third Time’s the Charm
2004 ALCS Game 5 – Pedro Martinez was less than stellar, giving up 3 runs
in the 6th and giving up a 2-1 Red Sox lead. The Sox rallied in the bottom of the 8th,
starting with Mr. Clutch’s lead-off home run off Tom Gordon. Later in the inning,
Jason Varitek hit a sac fly to CF, locking the game in a 4-4 tie. Zeroes across the
board until the 14th inning, where after walks to Damon and Ramirez, Ortiz dropped
a 2-out single into CF off Esteban Loaiza, walking off with a win for the second time in
2 games, and the 3rd time in 10 days.
2: God Helps Out His #1 Fan
2004 ALCS Game 6 – The miraculous comeback victories in games 4 and 5
were brilliant, but they meant nothing if the Red Sox couldn’t win the next two games.
Those two walk-offs by Ortiz meant nothing if the Yankees stole the momentum at
home. The Red Sox’s World Series dreams relied on Curt Schilling and a severely
injured right ankle. Was Terry Francona crazy to put Schilling on the mound for
Game 6? Apparently not, because with God on his side, Schilling gave up only a
solo home run to Bernie Williams in the 7th. When all was said and done, he struck
out 4 and gave up just 1 run over 7 innings. Ever since, there has been a debate
throughout baseball regarding whether or not his ankle pains were legitimate, or
whether the blood found on his sock was merely a ploy for a good story. However, in
the most important game of his illustrious career, there is no doubt from anyone on
either bench that night in the Bronx that what he had going on was not only real, but
nothing short of divine intervention.
“Tonight it was all God. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone. And I
prayed as hard as I could. I didn’t pray to get a win or to make great pitches. I just
prayed for the strength to go out there tonight and compete, and he gave me that. I
can’t explain to you what a feeling it was to be out there and to feel what I felt.”
– Curt Schilling
1: The Beginning of the End
2004 ALCS Game 4 – Red Sox fans the world over were depressed. They
were ready to give up. Surely the Curse had won again, right? The Red Sox went
into the 2004 ALCS with something to prove. They were knocked out of the 2003
ALCS by Aaron Boone and the Yankees, and they were adamant that they weren’t
going to let the Bronx Bombers have their way once again. However, the Yankees
took the first two games of the series, putting the Sox in a serious hole, against one
of the best teams ever assembled. They returned to Fenway for Game 3 with hopes
that home turf would give them the spark they needed, but were ousted 19-8. In
Game 4, they fell behind early once again, thanks to an Alex Rodriguez 2-run shot in
the 3rd. 2-0 Yankees. After finally rallying to a 3-2 lead, the Red Sox defense gave
it up the following inning, when the Yankees scored two more. 4-3 Yankees.
Mariano Rivera came out of the ‘pen for the bottom of the 9th, which almost certainly
marked the end of another unfortunate Red Sox season. Mariano ended up giving
up a walk to lead-off batter Kevin Millar, who was replaced for a pinch runner – Dave
Roberts. There was only one reason for bringing in Roberts in this scenario – get to
second, and find a way to get home from there. Everyone in the ballpark knew he
was going to attempt to steal second base. However, that meant Rivera knew as
well. Rivera tried two pick-off attempts, nearly beating Roberts to the bag the second
time. On the first pitch to Bill Mueller, Roberts took the opportunity. Running for his
life, he narrowly beat Jeter’s tag. Mueller then shot the ball up the middle, driving in
Roberts to tie the game and the rest, as any baseball fan knows, is history. During
the short time Roberts was with Boston, he pulled off the greatest stolen base in Red
Sox history, and maybe the most significant stolen base in the history of the game.
Not only did that stolen base spark the Red Sox to win the World Series and end an
86-year drought, but it also effectively marked the end of the Babe’s Curse.
“When we called upon him to do something that maybe seems as minor as
maybe trying to steal a base, you end up seeing … we win a World Series. In my
opinion, that is the number one biggest play.”
– Terry Francona
“The greatest story ever told.”
– John Henry
Thanks for a great decade, Red Sox! Let’s start it all over again in 2010!
- CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
- 2B – Dustin Pedroia
- C – Victor Martinez
- 3B – Kevin Youkilis
- DH – David Ortiz
- RF – J.D. Drew
- LF – Jeremy Hermida
- 1B – Casey Kotchman
- SS – Marco Scutaro
Looks a little weak, doesn’t it? No more Jason Bay, no more Mike
Lowell. No more pop from the right side. Correction – no more pop. Period.
Good luck with Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre, Theo … we all know
how well you work with Borasshole. Might as well just give up on both of those
players and treat this as the true bridge year you were talking about, because it
looks like Jeremy Hermida and Casey Kotchman are going to be our
starting fielders on opening day. Maybe if you’ve got some horseshoes up your ***
you’ll have an outside chance of competing for the Wild Card, but I wouldn’t count my
Not to mention you blew it with Rich Harden – he offers the idea of playing on
a one year contract, and you let him go to Texas? You better have something big up
your sleeve coming after this Mike Lowell deal, or my head might explode.
6:04pm EST: Theo Epstein doesn’t expect any kind of blockbuster move
before the meetings end, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Epstein
– “I don’t think we’ll make a blockbuster between now and (leaving) …
Something small could come up.” Also, talks haven’t progressed with
Jason Bay‘s representatives. Epstein – “Those guys are off doing their
According to Alex, Adrian Gonzalez will likely be a Padre in 2010 –
Bud Black says “Do I anticipate him being with the club in 2010?
The Red Sox reportedly met with Scott Boras, with one item on the menu
being Matt Holliday, however Jason Bay is still the club’s first choice.
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox are discussing a
deal that would send Mike Lowell to Texas. Who would be coming to
Beantown at this point is suggested to be catching prospect Max
Ramirez. The deal is reported as “not close”, but is starting to heat up. As
expected, Boston’s front office would have to front a bill for a significant majority
of Lowell’s 2010 contract. Mike has also been rumored to be on the block to go
to the Cubs for Milton Bradley, although that seems rather unlikely. So
unlikely, in fact, that Ian Browne has called shenanigans on the idea.
Multiple sources report that the Red Sox have a significant interest in free agent
Adrian Beltre. Because Mike Lowell will probably be traded to a team
such as Texas, a deal for Beltre is not only a real possibility, but almost a
requirement for Boston to keep a strong offense in 2010. However, Beltre’s agent
is Scott Boras, so expect life to be a relative hell in the coming weeks. The Giants
were originally thought of as being potential suitors of Beltre, but in reality they’re
looking for a short-term fix at first base and a center fielder, allowing them to
move Aaron Rowand to the corner infield.
Rob Bradford also reports that the Red Sox have not made any progress on a
Justin Duchscherer deal. They talked last on Sunday night. 11
other teams are reportedly interested in the pitcher. Maybe if the Red Sox sign
him, I’ll learn how to pronounce the Duke of Hurls’s real name properly.
- The Red Sox appear interested in Mike Cameron.
Red Sox were mentioned as forerunners for Rich Harden after he
mentioned he was willing to take a one year incentive-driven deal, but the
Rangers seemingly won the race.
- The Red Sox are not likely interested in Rafael Soriano.
Jayson Stark of ESPN says that the Red Sox have a couple teams they
could trade Mike Lowell to.
Low level interest in bringing back Coco Crisp. If you could sign him with
a clause in his contract stating that he has to get into a brawl every night with the
starting pitcher, I say go for it!
Ramon A. Ramirez claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay. Fabio
Castro signed to a one-year non-guaranteed contract.
Expect the Red Sox brass to be in Houston next week to watch Aroldis
Chapman‘s bullpen session, alongside the Yankees and Angels, at the very
The Winter Meetings have hit the half-way point – one blockbuster three-way trade is
all but signed, sealed, and delivered, and it looks as if the Yankees are going to steal
the show in Indy just like they did in Vegas the year before. The deal involving
Curtis Granderson to the Bronx adds a lot of intrigue to the meetings,
and most likely leaves Red Sox fans hoping for some form of retaliation.
Rewind to this time last year, where the Yankees took center stage by signing the two
biggest arms on the market in C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. That
later led to another Red Sox disappointment when another player went the way of
A-Rod after nearing a deal with Beantown but instead siding with the Yankees when
all was said and done – Mark Texeira. Three big deals for the Yankees, and
nothing to show for the Red Sox’s presence in the off-season accept two gambles in
the form of Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Naturally, the Sox deals
failed while the new Yankees thrived, all the way to a 27th championship. The Sox
eventually added Victor Martinez, but one late addition hardly matches two
quality pitchers and one of the best bats in the league.
Enter 2009. The Yankees add Granderson, while the Red Sox brass are seemingly
sleeping in their deluxe suite, enjoying their World Series dreams. For two teams
that were relatively equal for the majority of the last decade, one big deal for a
decent bat hardly counter-acts 4 huge deals with high-impact players over two
years. The Yankees have quickly changed from a comparative team to the odds-on
favorite – not just for the division, but the World Series – every year. So what are the
Red Sox doing?
Epstein has mentioned on numerous occasions he doesn’t plan on trading away the
future of the franchise for a quick fix or solely to keep up with the Yankees in the
short-term. Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias are the faces of the future
at Fenway Park. Lars Anderson had a bad year, but he’s looking to be a
perennial first-choice for first base. As for Clay Buchholz, we all know he’s
here and he’s only looking to get better with real experience. Add that to an already
young setup of Pedroia, Ellsbury, Papelbon, Bard, Delcarman, Dice-K and Lester,
and you’re looking at a solid team that plans to stay in tact long after the big signings
of the Yankees go to the wayside. But can the fans handle two years of Yankee
dominance in the East before these prospects so much as show their faces?
The silence of Red Sox management this year at the Winter Meetings could be very
concerning for the ‘Nation – a group of fans that have sold out Fenway over 500
consecutive times. Look for that record to potentially be snapped in 2010 if
something doesn’t happen soon.
The silence, however, could mean that something is in the works. Something
BIG. Could it be a deal for Adrian Gonzalez? Maybe Roy
Halladay is in the mix? Maybe a 4-team deal for both? Maybe talks with
Jason Bay, John Lackey, Rich Harden, and Mike
Gonzalez are further along than Epstein is letting on. Maybe I’m just farting in
Will the Red Sox step up, or will the Yankees continue their dastardly ways by signing
Lackey and/or Holliday? Only time will tell. This time of year when the Yankees pick
up steam and the Red Sox seemingly are running on empty, the time seems to slow
down, and every second breaks the heart. So please, John Henry, Theo Epstein –
do SOMETHING – and do it soon. This heartache is unbearable.