Red Sox Encore: Relive Sox-Cardinals 2004 World Series Game 1 Ahead Of NESN Broadcast


May 5, 2020

In hindsight, nothing was going to stop the 2004 Red Sox — not even an 86-year-old curse.

Despite the jubilation over knocking off the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, many Boston fans feared their team would not be able to finish the deal in the World Series — and who could blame them? For years, Red Sox nation was trained to expect lasting, crushing lows after brief, soaring highs. Plus, it’s not like the Red Sox would’ve been the first sports team to choke in a championship setting after conquering their nemesis in a previous round.

Of course, the 2004 Red Sox were not like most teams.

Boston outlasted the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-9, in what was a thrilling — though hardly pretty — Game 1 of the 2004 World Series. Iffy pitching, suspect defense and timely homers off foul poles — this game had it all. It also set the Red Sox on a path that eventually led to four-game sweep and a date with the Commissioner’s Trophy.

NESN’s latest “Red Sox Encore” series continues at 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night with Game 1 of the 2004 Fall Classic against the Cardinals. Here’s what you might have forgotten about that game:

1. David Ortiz began the series with a bang
Ortiz was coming off an ALCS in which he hit .387 with three homers and 11 RBIs, including a few that were sort of important. Any fears over the Red Sox slugger cooling off in the World Series quickly were eliminated when he annihilated a three-run homer off Cardinals starter Woody Williams in the first inning, scoring Johnny Damon and Orlando Cabrera. Bill Mueller later drove home Kevin Millar to give Boston a 4-0 lead after one inning. Ortiz finished the game 2-for-3 with two walks and four RBIs, which tied a Red Sox record for RBIs in a World Series game.

2. Tim Wakefield struggled
Wakefield became the first knuckleballer to start a World Series game since 1948, something he surely took pride in considering the way the 2003 season ended. Though the veteran right-hander was not good that particular night, the game just felt like the kind in which any pitcher would’ve struggled. Both offenses came ready to mash on baseball’s biggest stage. After making quick work of the Cardinals in the first inning, Wakefield allowed a run in the second, another in the third and three in the fourth before being lifted with two outs for Bronson Arroyo. Outside of a second-inning homer by Larry Walker, much of the damage done against Wakefield (two sacrifice flies and a run-scoring groundout) was a product of an inability to command the knuckleball on a cold October night. Boston’s defense also didn’t help much. Overall, Wakefield allowed five earned runs on three hits and five walks while striking out two over 3 2/3 innings.

3. It was a sloppy affair
Neither the Red Sox nor the Cardinals offered a masterclass in defense, with Boston committing four errors and St. Louis finishing with one miscue. Arroyo and Millar both committed one error, while Manny Ramirez picked up two, both of which occurred in the eighth inning. The Red Sox entered the frame leading the Cardinals 9-7 with Mike Timlin on the hill. After allowing a one-out single, Timlin was replaced by left-hander Alan Embree, who promptly allowed a single to Roger Cedeno. With runners on first and second with one out, Terry Francona called on Keith Foulke. Shortstop Edgar Renteria greeted the Red Sox closer with a single, which scored pinch-runner Jason Marquis after Ramirez bobbled the ball in left field. The next at-bat, Ramirez tripped after misplaying a shallow fly ball off the bat of Walker, allowing Cedeno to score. At the time, it felt like a classic Red Sox playoff meltdown.

4. The Cardinals wouldn’t go away
Though the Red Sox pitching and defense certainly failed them, the Cardinals deserve credit for refusing to lay down in a game that shouldn’t have been close. St. Louis scored in the second and third innings to narrow the early deficit to 4-2 before Boston scored three in the home half of the third to take a 7-2 lead. Game over, right? Nope. The Cardinals came back with three in the third before tying the game in sixth on back-to-back run-scoring doubles off Arroyo. The Red Sox fired back with two in the bottom of the seventh (RBIs from Ortiz and Ramirez, obviously), but the Cardinals responded with two in the aforementioned messy eighth. The 2004 Cardinals were a great team (105-57 in the regular season) that ran into a wagon.

5. Mark Bellhorn was the hero
The Red Sox second baseman entered the game on a hot streak after hitting home runs in Games 6 and 7 against the Yankees. He continued that trend in Game 1 against the Cardinals, going 2-for-3 with a home run that undoubtedly was his biggest hit in a Boston uniform. Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez began the eighth by retiring Bill Mueller before Jason Varitek reached on an error by the usually sure-handed Renteria. Then, after falling in a 1-2 hole, Bellhorn smashed a two-run homer off the top of Pesky’s Pole, giving the Red Sox an 11-9 lead. The incredible moment was punctuated by one of the coolest sounds you’ll ever hear during a sporting event.

NESN Set To Air 2004 Red Sox Postseason Games, Bruins Hat Tricks

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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