Editor's note: Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912. NESN.com will be celebrating Fenway's 100-year anniversary with unique content from now until April 20, 2012.
Boosted by electrifying offseason acquisition Pedro Martinez, the Red Sox made a return to the postseason by winning the wild card before being eliminated by the Indians in the American League Division Series in 1998.
Acquired in a trade with the Montreal Expos on Nov. 18, 1997, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner had little difficulty continuing his pitching success inside Fenway Park. The 26-year-old won a then career-high 19 games with a 2.89 ERA and 251 strikeouts, including two complete game shutouts. Pedro made his third All-Star team and finished second in voting for the AL's Cy Young Award, bested only by Roger Clemens of the Blue Jays, who won 20 games.
Though Martinez was clearly the team's ace, the rest of the pitching staff was formidable in its own right. Tim Wakefield and Bret Saberhagen won 17 games and 15 games, respectively, and closer Tom Gordon finished fourth in the major leagues with 46 saves.
The offense was again led by Mo Vaughn, who in his last season in Boston hit a career-high .337 with 40 home runs and 115 runs batted in. While the "Hit Dog" was his typical self, the surprise came from young shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. The 24-year-old was seeking to build off a 209-hit debut campaign in 1997 that earned him AL Rookie of the Year honors, and 1998 proved the previous season was no fluke. Nomar took the American League by storm, finishing with a .323 average, 35 home runs and 122 RBIs. Garciaparra finished second in the AL MVP voting, behind Texas' Juan Gonzalez and his 157 RBIs.
Though Boston came nowhere near the 114-win Yankees and finished 22 games back in the AL East standings, the Sox' 92-70 record was enough to earn the league's wild card berth and set up a date with Cleveland in the American League Division Series. Despite taking Game 1 on the road, the Red Sox could not pull the upset and were downed by the AL Central champs in four games.
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