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On This Date in Sports October 20, 2004: Reversing the Curse

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Boston Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino in the most epic way possible, becoming the first team to win a series after trailing 0-3. The Red Sox beat the archrival New York Yankees in seven games, winning the finale at Yankee Stadium 10-3. David Ortiz, who had walk-off hits to win Game 4 and Game 5, would be named ALCS MVP as the Red Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1918.

The rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox had come to a fever pitch in 2003. The teams met ALCS for the second time. This time it was the Red Sox pushing the series to a seventh game. In that Game 7, the Red Sox held a 5-2 in the eighth inning when a decision to keep Pedro Martinez in the game came back and blew up in Boston’s face as the Yankees won 6-5 on a walk-off home run by Aaron Boone in the 11th inning.

Grady Little would pay the price for his decision to keep Pedro in the game, as Terry Francona replaced him. Once again, the Yankees and Red Sox battled for superiority in the American League East, with Joe Torre leading New York to another division title at 101-61 as the Red Sox claimed the Wild Card again at 98-64. Both teams made quick work of their opponents in the Division Series, as the Yankees overcame a loss to Johan Santana in Game 1 to beat the Minnesota Twins in four games, while the Red Sox swept the Anaheim Angels in three straight games.

Curt Schilling, whom the Red Sox acquired in the off-season made the start for Boston in Game 1, while Mike Mussina started for the Yankees. The Yankees hit Schilling hard scoring six runs in three innings, as Hideki Matsui provided the big blow with a bases-clearing double in the third. The Yankees scored two more runs off Tim Wakefield in the sixth, as Kenny Lofton had a home run to make it 8-0. In the seventh inning, the Red Sox began to show the ability to come back, as they scored five runs, Kevin Millar hitting a two-run double, and Jason Varitek hit a two-run dinger. Boston closed within one run in the eighth as David Ortiz had a two-run triple with two-outs before Mariano Rivera came and closed the door. The Yankees would get a two-run double by Bernie Williams to make the final score 10-7.

In Game 2, Jon Lieber outpitched Pedro Martinez as the Yankees won 3-1 with Gary Sheffield and John Olerud, providing the offense for New York, while Rivera again shut the door with a four-out save.

Rain played a role as the series shifted to Boston, postponing Game 3 for one day as Kevin Brown and Bronson Arroyo got the start on the mound. Neither pitcher would last as both teams lit up the scoreboard at Fenway Park. The Yankees got three runs in the first with a double by Alex Rodriguez and a home run by Hideki Matsui. In the second inning, the Red Sox got four runs to take the lead with Trot Nixon hitting a two-run home run to start the rally while Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez drove in the next two runs. A-Rod led off the third with a homer as the Yankees put up another three spot. Boston tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double by Orlando Cabrera. The runs kept coming for New York in the fourth, as Sheffield hit a three-run bomb while Ruben Sierra had a two-run triple to build an 11-6 lead. In the fifth, the Yankees expanded the lead to 13-6 on back-to-back doubles by Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. The Yankees offense could not be stopped as they pounded out 22 hits to slam the Red Sox 19-8.

Following a 19-8 loss, it would have been easy for the Red Sox to fold in the cards as no team down 0-3 ever won a series in MLB. None even managed to ever get it to a Game 7. However, the Red Sox were a bunch of “idiots” who did not know any better. The Yankees had Orlando Hernandez looking to complete the sweep against Derek Lowe and jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Alex Rodriguez homered in the third. The Red Sox would rally in the fifth, taking a 3-2 lead on a two-run single by David Ortiz. However, the Yankees scored twice in the sixth with hits from Bernie Williams and Tony Clark. They would carry the lead to the ninth inning when Kevin Millar led off with a walk. Dave Roberts came on to pinch run and swiped second base. He would come into score the tying run on a hit by Bill Mueller. The Red Sox would go on to win the game 5-3 in 12 innings on a two-run walk-off from Ortiz.

Game 5 had Mike Mussina opposing Pedro Martinez as Boston grabbed a quick 2-0 lead. Bernie Williams homered in the second while Derek Jeter had a bases-clearing double in the sixth to out the Yankees up 4-2 as the Red Sox again stared into the abyss. In the eighth, the Red Sox clawed their way back again as Ortiz went deep again, while Dave Roberts, as pinch-runner, scored on a sac-fly by Jason Varitek. This time the game would need 15 innings, with Big Papi singling home Johnny Damon to win the game 5-4 and send the series back to the Bronx.

All the momentum was on the side of the Red Sox as the series came back to Yankee Stadium. Curt Schilling pitched for the Red Sox despite an injured ankle as they stitched his tendons together, leading to blood trickling onto his sock, really creating a Red Sock. The Red Sox took control of the game with four runs in the fourth, highlighted by a three-run shot by Mark Belhorn. The Yankees got a home run by Williams and an RBI single by Jeter, but could not score another as the Red Sox won 4-2 to force Game 7.

Game 7 was no contest as Kevin Brown started for the Yankees and was gone before the second inning was over as David Ortiz hit a two-run shot in the first and Johnny Damon hit a grand slam in the second to turn Yankee Stadium into a morgue. Derek Jeter got New York on the board with an RBI single in the third, but Damon went deep again in the fourth to make it 8-1. The Red Sox would cruise the rest of the way, winning 10-3 as they advanced to the World Series. The World Series would be anticlimactic as the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals.