A lot of people are comparing the Red Sox comeback in Game 5 of this year’s ALCS with their turnaround of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, to whom they were down 3 games to 0, having been blown out in Game 3 allowing 19 runs. There are a lot of similarities.
The late ray of hope
2004: Kevin Millar gets a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 9th of Game 4 against the Yankees, needing one run to tie with Mariano Rivera, the best closer in playoff history, on the mound. Dave Roberts, the league’s best base stealer, is put in to run for him.
2008: With two on and two out in the 7th, the Red Sox down 7-0 and looking like they’ll be blown out for the third game in a row and lose the ALCS, Dustin Pedroia knocks in a run with an opposite-field single, and the Red Sox have two on with Big Papi coming up.
2004: Even though the pitcher, the catcher, and everybody else knew he was going to try to steal, Dave Roberts successfully steals second base, and Fenway Park goes nuts.
2008: Even though he’d been slumping horribly in the playoffs, Big Papi returns to form, hitting a good inside pitch into the right field stands, cutting the lead to 7-4, and Fenway Park goes nuts.
These plays were the pivot points. There was still work to do, but the mentality of the fans changed after this one from one of hope but fear to one of expectation of good things to come.
A sense of destiny
2004: Bill Mueller singles in Dave Roberts, tying the game in the ninth against the great Mariano Rivera.
2008: Coco Crisp wins a 10-pitch battle to single in the tying run in the bottom of the eighth, tying the game 7-7, as he also runs into the final out of the inning.
After these plays, Red Sox fans got the feeling that they were destined to win this game, and probably more after.
Going home happy, with the ball rolling
2004: Big Papi hits a walkoff home run in extra innings, and the Red Sox win the game, and the next one, and the next one, and with a big head of steam built, blow out the Yankees 10-3 in the final Game 7.
2008: J.D. Drew knocks a ground-rule double over the Rays’ right fielder’s head, knocking in Kevin Youkilis in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, and the Red Sox win the game, and the next one, and … ???
Look for a blowout in Game 7 tonight. Red Sox by at least 6.