2004 American League Championship Series
From BR Bullpen
|2004 American League Championship Series|
|Boston Red Sox||New York Yankees|
|98-64 in the American League||101-61 in the American League|
The 2004 American League Championship Series was a best-of-seven playoff series played between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, beginning on October 12, 2004, and ending on October 21st. To date, the 2004 American League Championship Series is the only seven-game series in which the winning team (the Red Sox) lost the first three games before coming back to win the next four. No team that started out a seven-game series with three losses had ever even forced a seventh game, never mind won it.
|2004 MLB Postseason|
|AL||NYY - MIN||NYY - BOS||BOS - STL|
|ANA - BOS|
|NL||STL - LOS||STL - HOU|
|ATL - HOU|
|<< 2003||2005 >>|
 Game One
|WP: Mike Mussina (1-0), LP: Curt Schilling (0-1), SV: Mariano Rivera (1)|
|Home Runs: BOS - Jason Varitek (1); NYY - Kenny Lofton (1)|
- Attendance: 56,135
The Yankees took a quick 6-0 lead against Curt Schilling in Game 1, played October 12th . Hideki Matsui drove in three of the runs with doubles in the 1st and 3rd innings. They added two more runs in the 6th, then saw the Red Sox score seven unanswered runs in the 7th and 8th to bring the outcome of the game back into question. However, reliever Mike Timlin could not hold the Yankees down in their half of the 8th, and a two-run double by Bernie Williams made the final score 10 to 7 in favor of New York. Winning pitcher Mike Mussina had been pitching a perfect game into the 7th when Boston began its offensive surge. Closer Mariano Rivera pitched the Yankees out of trouble in the 8th and 9th amidst speculation he would either not pitch or be ineffective due to the untimely death of a family friend of Rivera's at his Panama home only days earlier. Meanwhile, Schilling had aggravated the injury to his ankle that he suffered during Game 1 of the ALDS in Anaheim, CA. His availability for the rest of the series fell into question.
 Game Two
|WP: Jon Lieber (1-0), LP: Pedro Martinez (0-1), SV: Mariano Rivera (2)|
|Home Runs: NYY - John Olerud (1)|
- Attendance: 56,136
Game 2 was played on October 13th in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees' Derek Jeter scored a run off Pedro Martinez before he had recorded the first out of the 1st inning, but Martinez and Jon Lieber of New York were locked in a pitcher's duel after that until the bottom of the 6th, when John Olerud homered with Jorge Posada aboard as a result of a walk to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Trot Nixon led off the 8th for Boston with a single, only the third hit given up by Lieber, who was then replaced by Tom Gordon; Nixon came in to score on a ground out, then Mariano Rivera was brought in to record the last four outs and preserve a 3-1 victory.
This game was also notable because of the relentless chants of "Who's Your Da-ddy?" from Yankee fans throughout Martinez's time on the mound. This chant was in reference to a quote from a frustrated Martinez in a late-September regular season game in which he gave up the tying and go-ahead runs in the 8th inning of a game at Fenway Park against the Yankees. After that game, Martinez had stated "I tip my hat to them and call the Yankees my daddies."
 Game Three
|WP: Javier Vazquez (1-0), LP: Ramiro Mendoza (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NYY - Hideki Matsui 2 (2), Alex Rodriguez (1), Gary Sheffield (1); BOS - Trot Nixon (1) , Jason Varitek (1)|
- Attendance: 35,126
The series moved to Fenway Park for Game 3 on October 16th after one day was lost to a rainout. The Yankees roughed six Red Sox pitchers for 19 runs and 22 hits to put themselves in a commanding position in the series, even if the Red Sox tried gamely to keep up by scoring 8 runs of their own on 15 hits. In fact, the game was tied 6-6 after three innings as both starting pitchers, Kevin Brown and Bronson Arroyo, were chased early, but the Yankees then scored seven runs in the next two innings to take a commanding lead. Hideki Matsui had five hits - two of them home runs - and five RBIs and scored five runs for the Yankees, while Alex Rodriguez also scored five runs on three hits with 3 RBIs; Gary Sheffield drove in five runs and Bernie Williams collected four hits.
 Game Four
|WP: Curt Leskanic (1-0), LP: Paul Quantrill (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NYY - Alex Rodriguez (1); BOS - David Ortiz (1)|
- Attendance: 34,826
After the New York Yankees had taken a three game to none lead, Games 4 and 5 both went into extra innings. Mariano Rivera, the MVP of the 2003 ALCS, could not convert the save in Game 4 on October 17th and was technically credited with a "blown save" in Game 5.
Game 4 was a 12-inning classic.
The Red Sox were in a must-win situation, but things did not start out so well as the Yankees took leads of 2-0 in the 3rd and 4-3 after six innings. That is where things stood in the bottom of the 9th, with Boston facing elimination. Kevin Millar started the frame with a walk off Rivera, who was in his second inning of work. Red Sox manager Terry Francona brought in back-up outfielder Dave Roberts to run for him. Roberts stole second base (barely), and Bill Mueller singled to center to bring Roberts home and tie the score at 4. Mueller made it to third base with one out, but, after loading the bases, Rivera got out of the jam by forcing David Ortiz to pop up to second base to end the inning. The Yankees threatened in the top of the 11th with runners on first and second base with one out and Alex Rodriguez at the plate. Rodriguez had been hitting fairly well in the series and the postseason up until that point. Alex scorched the ball toward the hole at short, but shortstop Orlando Cabrera made a spectacular diving catch that saved a run, and the Yankees failed to score in the inning. That's how it remained until the bottom of the 12th when Manny Ramirez greeted relief pitcher Paul Quantrill with a single and Ortiz followed with a walk-off two-run home run.
Following the 2010 season, a panel of experts at the MLB Network voted this the 17th greatest game of the past fifty years.
 Game Five
|WP: Tim Wakefield (1-0), LP: Esteban Loaiza (0-1)|
|Home Runs: NYY - Bernie Williams (1)|
- Attendance: 35,120
Game 5, played on October 18th was a 14-inning thriller. Once again Mariano Rivera was charged with a blown save; however, to be fair, due to some questionable in-game management by Yankee skipper Joe Torre, he was brought into a situation in which it would have required a miracle to escape without allowing the tying run to score. After Tom Gordon allowed a lead-off home run to David Ortiz and the next two batters of the 8th inning reached base, setting up a first and third situation with no outs, Torre elected to bring in Rivera, who surrendered a sacrifice fly to the first batter, Jason Varitek, allowing the tying run to score. He then retired the next two batters, but the game had been tied at 4, despite Rivera retiring all three batters he faced.
Five tense scoreless innings later, Johnny Damon drew a one-out walk from Esteban Loaiza; after Orlando Cabrera struck out for the second out, Manny Ramirez drew another walk on a full count. David Ortiz followed with a single to center field to end the game on a 5-4 score.
 Game Six
|WP: Curt Schilling (1-0), LP: Jon Lieber (0-1), SV: Keith Foulke (1)|
|Home Runs: BOS - Mark Bellhorn (1); NYY - Bernie Williams (2)|
- Attendance: 56,128
In Game 6, played on October 19th, Curt Schilling was starting despite his weak Achilles tendon. He had had a procedure done involving sutures being put in the heel to temporarily hold it together. Throughout the game, blood stained through Schilling's sock, yet he proceeded to quiet the Yankees for 7 innings, striking out 4 and allowing just 1 run. His courageous performance would cause this game to be known throughout New England as "the bloody sock game."
The Red Sox took an early lead by scoring four runs in the 4th off Jon Lieber. Three of those runs came in somewhat controversial fashion when 2B Mark Bellhorn hit a fly ball to left that deflected back into play for LF Hideki Matsui to relay back into play. The play was initially ruled a two-RBI triple until Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out to argue the play with the umpires, causing them to confer. Replays showed the ball had actually bounced off the chest of a fan in the front row, and not the left-field wall. The umpires eventually got the call right, ruling it a home run and infuriating the home fans. The Yankees' best chance to rally was squashed in the bottom of the 8th inning when Alex Rodriguez was called out for slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove after initially being called safe at second with Derek Jeter scoring from first base to bring the Yankees within striking distance. Eventually this call, too, would be reversed after a conference of umpires discussed it. This time, Yankee fans responded by bombarding the field with balls, bottles and other forms of debris. Major League Baseball then gave the word to send New York City policemen in riot gear down the first and third base lines by the stands in order to prevent further backlash. The 4-2 Red Sox win evened the Series at three games each and set up a seventh game between the two rivals for the second consecutive year.
 Game Seven
|WP: Derek Lowe (1-0), LP: Kevin Brown (0-1)|
|Home Runs: BOS - David Ortiz (2), Johnny Damon 2 (2), Mark Bellhorn (2)|
- Attendance: 56,129
Their loss in Game 6 left the Yankees with a difficult decision to make as far as their starting pitching was concerned. Mike Mussina and Jon Lieber, their most reliable starters in the post-season as well as down the stretch of the regular season, and perennial post-season hero Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez were unavailable. That left the unenviable choices of Javier Vazquez, who had been ineffective for most of the second half, and Kevin Brown who had been either injured or ineffective all year long. Manager Joe Torre decided to go with Brown.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox had their own pitching decision to make. Most people thought they would go with Tim Wakefield, who had been very effective against the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS, despite giving up the series-ending home run. However, Red Sox manager Terry Francona decided to go with Derek Lowe, who had pitched well in a Game 4 start. The bottom line is that Torre picked wrong, Francona picked correctly, and the Red Sox won Game 7, played on October 20th, going away. Brown surrendered a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the 1st inning and everyone could tell right away that he had nothing. He was relieved by Vazquez with one out in the 2nd inning to face Johnny Damon, who had hit two home runs off him on June 29th (Boxscore). Damon made Torre pay for his choice with a back-breaking grand slam, and his two home runs in Game 7 made people forget his two total hits in the rest of the ALCS. The Red Sox won the game, 10 to 3, to move on to the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The MVP of the series was David Ortiz who had two game-ending hits, in Game 4 (a home run) and Game 5 (a single).
 Further Reading
- Steven Goldman, ed.: Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart and Finally Won a World Series, Workman Publishing, New York, NY, 2005.
- Tony Massarotti and John Harper: A Tale of Two Cities: The 2004 Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry and the War for the Pennant, The Lyons Press, Guilford, CT, 2005.
- Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King: Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, NY, 2004.
- Bill Simmons: Now I Can Die in Peace: How ESPN's Sports Guy Found Salvation With a Little Help From Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox, ESPN Books, New York, NY, 2005.
- Saul Wisnia: Miracle at Fenway: The Inside Story of the Boston Red Sox 2004 Championship Season, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 2014. ISBN 978-1250031631
- Allan Wood and Bill Nowlin: Don't Let Us Win Tonight: An Oral History of the 2004 Boston Red Sox's Impossible Playoff Run, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2014. ISBN 978-1600789137
 Related Sites
|Major League Baseball American League Championship Series