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Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

Boston uncommon

Red Sox rally from 0-3 hole to win ALCS

October 21, 2004

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— Boston blew away decades of defeat with four sweet swings.

Believe it, New England, the Red Sox are in the World Series. And they got there with the most unbelievable comeback of all, shaming the New York Yankees, the Evil Empire to the south.

David Ortiz, Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe made sure of that.

Just three outs from getting swept out of the AL championship series three nights earlier, the Red Sox finally humbled the dreaded Yankees, winning Game 7 in a 10-3 shocker Wednesday night to become the first major-league team to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit.

Cursed for 86 years, these Red Sox just might be charmed.

"All empires fall sooner of later," Boston president Larry Lucchino said.

There is no torture this time, no hour of humiliation. Better yet to Boston fans, it's the Yankees left to suffer the memory of a historic collapse.

"It's very amazing," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Boston didn't need any of the late-inning dramatics that marked the last three games, leading 6-0 after two innings.

Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez celebrates with teammates after the
Red Sox beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the AL championship
series. Boston won, 10-3, Wednesday in New York to complete a
comeback from an 0-3 series deficit.

Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez celebrates with teammates after the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the AL championship series. Boston won, 10-3, Wednesday in New York to complete a comeback from an 0-3 series deficit.

Ortiz, the series MVP, started it with a two-run homer in the first off broken-down Kevin Brown, and Damon quieted Yankee Stadium in the second inning with a grand slam on Javier Vazquez's first pitch.

After Derek Jeter sparked hope of a comeback with a run-scoring single in the third, Damon put a two-run homer into the upper deck for an 8-1 lead in the fourth.

Lowe, pitching on just two days' rest, silenced the Yankees' bats and their boasting fans, who just last weekend assumed New York's seventh pennant in nine years was all but a lock. He allowed one hit in six innings then Pedro Martinez started the seventh, his first relief appearance in five years, sparking chants of "Who's Your Daddy?"

Three hits and two runs got the crowd going, but the rally stopped there. Mark Bellhorn added a solo homer in the eighth for a 9-3 Boston lead.

Cheering from Red Sox fans could be heard in the ninth, and when pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra grounded to second baseman Pokey Reese for the final out, Boston players ran onto the field and jumped together in a mass huddle.

"The greatest comeback in baseball history," Red Sox owner John Henry said.

Yankees players slowly walked off, eliminated on their home field for the second straight season.

"They had a lot of heart. They never gave up," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "That team never dies. I give them a lot of credit."

Boston catcher Jason Varitek leaps into the arms of pitcher Alan
Embree after the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 10-3.

Boston catcher Jason Varitek leaps into the arms of pitcher Alan Embree after the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 10-3.

The World Series will start Saturday at Fenway Park against St. Louis or Houston.

There were several hundred Red Sox fans behind their dugout on the third-base side, cheering wildly as Boston players gave one another bear hugs.

Trot Nixon ran out to the center-field bleachers to greet friends, then shook hands with more along the right-field line.

Now that the Babe's team has been beaten, Boston can try to reverse The Curse, win the Series for the first time since 1918 and bring happiness to the Hub, which scarcely can believe the tumultuous turn of events.

From Fenway Park to Faneuil Hall, from Boston Common to Beacon Hill, the 11th pennant for the Red Sox, the first since 1986, will be remembered as the best for one reason: Beating New York in Yankee Stadium, site of last year's Game 7 meltdown.

None of the previous 25 major-league teams to fall behind 3-0 even forced a series to seven games. The wild-card Red Sox became only the third of 239 teams in the four major North American leagues to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series and win, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders.

It had been 100 years since Boston last won a pennant in New York on the final possible day, a 3-2 victory in a doubleheader opener at Hilltop Park in 1904. New York overcame the Red Sox by winning the final two games of the 1949 season at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees won a one-game playoff for the AL East in 1978 behind Bucky Dent's three-run homer at Fenway Park, and Aaron Boone hit the 11th-inning homer that won Game 7 last year.

New York, which dropped to 10-2 in the LCS, will no doubt face a bitter winter, with owner George Steinbrenner likely to take charge of overhauling a roster that has been short of starting pitching since the spring.

Brown and Vazquez, who faded in the second half of the season, were booed by the sellout crowd of 56,129, accustomed to perpetual success from their pinstriped heroes. The Yankees won the AL East for the seventh straight year, and the Red Sox were runners-up each time.

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