Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe said it pretty well: Game 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series was “perhaps the most thrilling and torturous postseason game in 104 years of Red Sox baseball.”
Boston’s history-making miracle comeback came one step closer to fruition on that Monday afternoon (and night) in mid-October at Fenway Park. The Red Sox survived a back-and-forth affair with the New York Yankees, needing 14 innings to win their second game of the series with a dramatic walk-off base hit from David Ortiz to cut New York’s series lead to 3-2.
You can see Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS at 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday night on NESN. Before watching that game, here are some things you might have forgotten from that classic battle.
1. A hard day’s night (and another hard day)
The Red Sox and Yankees, as they typically do, played a whole lot of baseball over the course of Games 4 and 5. On Sunday night, the clubs played deep into the night, as Boston staved off elimination with a miracle ninth-inning comeback and an eventual Ortiz walk-off home run in the 12th inning. That game ended 1:22 a.m. ET. The two teams were back at Fenway just hours later, as Game 5 had a first pitch of 5:11 p.m. in Boston. Hopefully, fans got comfortable fast. Game 5, despite its early start time, went deep into the night, as the two teams played another five hours and 49 minutes before Ortiz’s second display of heroics in less than 24 hours.
2. Moose hunting
The Red Sox, especially Ortiz, picked up right where they left off in Game 5. Pedro Martinez pitched a scoreless first, and the Boston offense wasted no time getting to work. Ortiz got the scoring started with an RBI single off Mike Mussina, and Mussina eventually walked in another run to spot the Sox an early 2-0 lead. Bernie Williams hit a leadoff home run to start the second inning, but Martinez largely held the Yankees at bay for most of his start.
3. Deja vu all over again
The similarities between Martinez’s performance in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and this one are hard to ignore. Now, this wasn’t a Grady Little-like meltdown from Terry Francona, as no one should criticize him for sending Martinez back out for the sixth inning, but maybe a move could have been made after Martinez plunked Miguel Cairo to load the bases. Instead, Francona stuck with the future Hall of Famer, and it came back to bite him. Derek Jeter, with the most Derek Jeter hit of his career, reached out and hit a soft little line drive down the right-field line that cleared the bases and gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead. It felt all too familiar for Red Sox fans, as there were shades of Jorge Posada’s back-breaking flare in Game 7 a year prior. All the momentum and good vibes Boston built with its Game 4 comeback and early lead in this one seemed to be gone.
4. He did it again
Ortiz. Really, what else is there to say? With time running out and things looking bleak as could be, the designated hitter got Boston back within one with a moon shot off Tom Gordon in the eighth inning.
The Red Sox would tie the game a few batters later on a Jason Varitek sacrifice fly, as not even Mariano Rivera could clean up Gordon’s mess.
5. The luckiest break in franchise history
Despite New York’s meltdown in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees came *this* close to winning it in the top of the ninth. With Ruben Sierra on first, Tony Clark tucked a line drive down the right-field line and into the corner. If the ball had flown just a little farther, it probably would have bounced off the wall and rolled around the tricky right-field corner. Sierra likely would have scored from first. Instead, it caromed up into the stands for a ground-rule double, and Sierra had to stop at third. Keith Foulke eventually escaped the jam.
6. Wake up
The 2003 goat became one of the 2004 heroes when Tim Wakefield came on and worked three scoreless innings in extra frames. It wasn’t without issue, though. The knuckleball was dancing, and Varitek was having all kinds of trouble with three passed balls. But Varitek held on tight for the most important pitch of the night, squeezing strike three to end the top of the 13th inning with runners on second and third.
7. “He can keep on running to New York”
No one really forgot this one, but we’d be remiss not to include the game-winning hit from Ortiz, who over the course of two unforgettable nights with 5-for-11 with two home runs, seven RBIs and three of the biggest hits in Red Sox history.