The legend of David Ortiz really came to be during the 2004 playoffs, and it actually began in earnest during the American League Division Series.
The Boston Red Sox designated hitter gets deserved praise for his heroics in Boston’s history-making League Championship Series against the hated New York Yankees. But don’t forget about what he did in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Anaheim Angels.
Ortiz’s walk-off home run in Game 3 completed the sweep for the Red Sox, his first of many walk-off hits in the playoffs. NESN will bring you that game Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET, but here are some things you might have forgotten about that classic.
1. Have a night, big fella
Ortiz obviously gets all the credit and recognition for the memorable walk-off home run. But that was just part of one incredible night for the slugger. Ortiz finished with four hits, including the home run and a pair of doubles while driving in three runs. The DH finished the quick three-game series going 6-for-11 with an absurd 1.688 OPS. As we know now, he was just getting started.
2. Bronson’s big day
All things considered, this game might have been Bronson Arroyo’s finest moment with the Red Sox. He did get some big outs in the ALCS, but Arroyo largely kept the Angels at bay in this one. He worked into the seventh inning and came away allowing just two earned runs on only three hits while striking out seven. It certainly went much better than his next Game 3 start, as he was shelled by the Yankees for a million runs to put the Sox down three games in the ALCS. But he’d rebound in Games 5 and 6 of that series. Arroyo parlayed that success into a music album he released in 2005 that some people bought.
3. Disaster (eventually) avoided
For as good as the Red Sox bullpen was in the run to the 2004 World Series title, Game 3 against the Halos was a forgettable showing. Most notably, it was a rough one for Mike Timlin, who came in to relieve Mike Myers (who took over for Arroyo) in the seventh. Myers walked the only guy he faced (whoops), and then Timlin eventually loaded the bases for Vladimir Guerrero. The future Hall of Famer was a few weeks away from being named AL MVP, and he did what MVPs do — he walloped a Timlin fastball for a game-tying grand slam.
4. Lowe-key big
We all know how Derek Lowe would come up huge later in the playoffs, but he entered the postseason struggling and missed out on a rotation spot. However, he actually got the win in this one (and the other two clinchers). Lowe worked into and wiggled out of trouble in the 10th.
“People should never give up on D-Lowe,” Ortiz told reporters after the game. “D-Lowe is the kind of guy that when you really need it, he steps up.”
He was onto something.
5. All’s well that ends well
The game — and series — ended, of course, in the 10th inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought on Game 1 starter Jarrod Washburn to face Ortiz, hoping the lefty-lefty thing would work in his favor. It didn’t. Ortiz attacked the first pitch he saw from Washburn and deposited it into the Monster seats to send the fans home happy, a home run that, at the time, garnered comparisons to Carlton Fisk’s walk-off in the 1975 World Series. Pretty rough series for Washburn. After getting shelled in Game 1, he finished the series with an unsightly 10.80 ERA.
As for Ortiz, he was just getting started, much to manager Terry Francona’s delight: “I was begging. There was a lot of begging going on.”
5. Darin knew
We’ll just leave you with this postgame quote from Angels outfielder Darin Erstad:
“These boys are winning the World Series, by the way. That’s the deepest team I’ve ever seen. They have every piece of the puzzle. I don’t see anybody beating them.”