The Boston Red Sox looked down for the count Sunday, and seemed assured of losing for the second straight day at home to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. Then Dave “Big Papi” Ortiz stepped to the plate in the eighth inning, drilled a grand slam home run and saved the Red Sox season.
Heart stopping games? The Boston Red Sox appear to have corned the market on them during the postseason. Here are top five dramatic postseason moments for the Red Sox over the past 40 years:
No. 5 Big Papi, Big Hitter (October 13, 2013)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single in the bottom of the ninth inning may have won the game for the Boston Red Sox.
But it was the grand slam by David Ortiz in the eighth that likely saved Boston’s season.
The Red Sox hitters were getting embarrassed — they didn’t get a hit in game one until the ninth inning, and they had only two hits and one run through seven innings of game two.
But then came the rally in the eighth that culminated with the dramatic game tying home run by Ortiz.
No. 4 The Fisk Factor (October 21, 1975)
Game six of the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds had been one of those back and forth affairs when Carlton Fisk stepped to the plate to lead off the 12th inning.
He hit a shot down the left field line, and as he started his walk toward first base he waved his arms seemingly to keep the ball fair. The ball hit the foul pole — making it a fair ball — to win a game that many describe as the greatest in baseball history.
No. 3 Henderson’s heroics (October 12, 1986)
The Red Sox trailed the ACLS, 3-1, and were down three runs in the ninth inning against the Angels in Anaheim. But then Don Baylor, with one out, hit a two-run homer to pull the Red Sox within a run.
With two outs, Boston’s Rich Gedman reached first after getting hit by a pitch. And then Dave Henderson blasted a two-run home run to give Boston a 6-5 lead.
The Red Sox would eventually win in extra innings.
That victory gave Boston life, and the Sox won the next two games to win the series. It was a joyful moment that gave the Red Sox hope of winning the first title in franchise history since 1918.
Two weeks later, that hope was dashed.
No. 2 The Bill Buckner Game (October 25, 1986)
The World Series drought of the Boston Red Sox – who hadn’t won one since 1918 — appeared over. They led the series, 3-2, and had taken a 5-3 lead in the top of the 10th inning.
Boston was three outs from the title.
Boston reliever Calvin Schiraldi easily got the first two outs, and the champagne was being readied in the Boston locker room. But then the next three Mets singled, pulling the Mets within 5-4. Schiraldi was replaced by Bob Stanley, who threw a wild pitch that tied the game, 5-5.
And then the play that Red Sox fans will never get over: Mets’ outfielder Mookie Wilson hit a ground ball to first base that rolled through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner and into right field. The Mets scored the winning run to tie the series, 3-3. The Mets would win game seven, extending the futility of the Red Sox.
No. 1 The improbable comeback (Oct. 17, 2004)
In game four of the 2004 ALCS the Red Sox were facing Mission Impossible.
They trailed the series against the New York Yankees, 3-0, and no team in baseball history had ever come back from that deficit.
They entered the bottom of the ninth trailing, 4-3—leaving them three outs from elimination.
And they were facing the best reliever in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera.
But Rivera walked the first batter he faced, Kevin Millar. Dave Roberts came in to pitch-run, and stole second base. That was followed by Bill Mueller’s single, which scored Roberts and tied the game.
In the 12th Dave Ortiz hit a two-run homer (below) that allowed the Red Sox to play another day. And the Red Sox won the next three games to win the series, becoming the first team in MLB history to win fourth straight games after dropping the first three.
The rest was easy: the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, winning the team’s first championship in 86 years.