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American League Championship Series Game 4
October 17, 2004 • Fenway Park, Boston

Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12 innings)

Box Score

          1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12   R  H E
____________________________________   ______

New York  0 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 0  0  0  0   4 12 1 
Boston    0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1  0  0  2   6  8 0

After attending the horror show that was Game 3, I got home from my friend's house the next morning and collapsed on the couch. I barely moved all day, just wanting 8:19 to roll around so I could forget about the day before. I might have watched the Patriots game in the afternoon, or I might have just stared blankly with the TV turned off. The only important thing was winning that night.

Keep the Faith The players knew what had to be done. David Ortiz said he stopped on the way in to Fenway that day and pulled his car over beneath the billboard with a picture of a smiling, double-pointing Manny Ramirez that said simply, "Keep the Faith." He thought about the fans he had seen crying and feeling sad after the previous night's game (that would be me) and told his teammates they needed to win it for the fans. In batting practice Kevin Millar told anyone who would listen that if they could just win today, the rest of the series would fall into place, with Pedro pitching the next day, Curt going after that, and then Game 7 up for grabs.

Derek Lowe started for the Red Sox, with Orlando Hernandez going for the Yankees. Hernandez had traditionally pitched well against the Sox, but had come up with a "dead arm" late in the season. Lowe had begun the postseason as the odd man out and was relegated to the bullpen, but he was forced back into the rotation after Game 4's originally-scheduled starter Tim Wakefield had volunteered to spare the bullpen from their drubbing in Game 3, and wound up pitching 3 1/3 innings. Manny walked in the first but didn't score, and in the second Hideki Matsui was thrown out at the plate trying to score from third on a ground ball to shortstop. But in the third, Derek Jeter singled and Alex Rodriguez homered over the Green Monster for a 2-0 Yankees lead. The Sox went in order in the third and fourth, and it didn't look good. That's when it hit me that if they didn't win today, that was the end; there was nothing tomorrow. But that couldn't be right! I wasn't ready for it to end. They had to win today, because the alternative was too horrible to even contemplate.

Millar walked to start the fifth, but he was erased on a fielder's choice. Mark Bellhorn followed with a walk, but he was also erased on a fielder's choice. Finally Orlando Cabrera singled, scoring one run to get the Sox on the board. Manny walked to load the bases, and Ortiz came through again with a clutch single, scoring two runs and giving the Sox a 3-2 lead. It was only the second time in the whole series that the Sox had had a lead, but unfortunately this time was as short-lived as the other. With one out in the following inning, Matsui tripled, and Mike Timlin came in to relieve Lowe, who had done an outstanding job of keeping the Sox in the game. Timlin and Keith Foulke were the only two pitchers spared from last night's game, so each would be counted on for multiple innings if necessary tonight. Bernie Williams greeted Timlin with an infield hit to drive in Matsui and tie the game. A wild pitch moved Williams to second before Jorge Posada walked. Both runners tried to advance on a pitch that skipped past Varitek, but Bill Mueller made a great tag as Tek threw Williams out at third. Ruben Sierra hit a grounder to deep second that Bellhorn threw wildly to first, sending Posada to third. Tony Clark followed with a grounder to second, and Bellhorn heard the boo-birds as he fielded the ball but couldn't do anything with it while another run scored. Miguel Cairo walked to load the bases before Jeter finally grounded out to end the inning. Matsui's triple was the only hit in the inning that had left the infield, but the Yankees had a 4-3 lead, and time was running out for the Red Sox.

In the bottom of the sixth, Millar singled, but Bill Mueller erased him on a double play. A-Rod walked to open the seventh, but Timlin got Gary Sheffield to ground out before giving way to Foulke. Keith induced the dangerous Matsui to ground out, then whiffed Bernie Williams after a nine-pitch at-bat. The Sox went in order in their half of the inning, and Foulke held the Yankees scoreless in the eighth. Manny singled to start the bottom of the eighth, but Ortiz, Varitek, and Nixon were unable to advance him. Foulke was back in the ninth for his third inning of work. After a leadoff walk to Jeter, a popup, a fly ball, and a strikeout quickly ended the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees needed only three more outs to complete a four-game sweep of the Red Sox and move on to the World Series. Mariano Rivera was on the mound to close it out. But the Red Sox woud not go down easily. Kevin Millar, who had predicted a comeback in batting practice before the game had even started, walked to start the inning. Dave Roberts was called in to pinch run. Roberts knew what his role was. There was no need for signals from the dugout; Terry Francona simply gave him a wink... and that wink changed history.

Roberts danced back and forth off the first base bag as Rivera threw over three times, but each time he dove back safely. After ball one to Bill Mueller, Roberts broke for second, and slid in just under the tag. Safe! That put the tying run in scoring postion with Mueller, the Certified Yankee-Killer, at the plate. It was Mueller's home run off Rivera that had ended the pivotal brawl game on July 24 in dramatic fashion. He didn't waste any time, lining the next pitch straight up the middle, as Roberts raced around with the tying run! Pinch-hitter Doug Mientkiewicz sacrificed Mueller to second, and Johnny Damon reached on an error. Cabrera struck out, but Manny walked to load the bases for Ortiz. Big Papi popped it up to end the inning, but the game was tied and the season wasn't over yet.

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Alan Embree pitched the tenth. He allowed only a two-out single to Sierra, and held the Yankees scoreless. Varitek, Nixon, and Pokey Reese went down in order against Tom Gordon in the bottom half. The eleventh inning was scary. Cairo singled, and went to second on Jeter's sacrifice. A-Rod lined out on a nice play by Cabrera at short for the second out. Francona elected to intentionally walk Sheffield and bring in Mike Myers to face Matsui, but the move backfired as Matsui walked to load the bases. Curtis Leskanic was called in from the bullpen, and was able to get Bernie Williams out to end the inning. Johnny Damon was the only baserunner for the Sox in the eleventh. Leskanic stayed in for the twelfth, and allowed only a leadoff single to Posada.

For the bottom of the twelfth, Paul Quantrill came in to pitch for the Yankees, and Manny singled, bringing David Ortiz to the plate. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he launched a towering shot into right field, over Sheffield's head and into the visitors' bullpen! Big Papi had come through again! After being on the brink of elimination, the Red Sox lived to see another day. Actually, it would be later that day, since it was now 1:21 am, five hours and two minutes after the start of the game. Game 5 would indeed be necessary, and it would be played less than 16 hours later, at 5:10 pm. Despite the late hour, I didn't go straight to bed. First I had to watch the post-game show, then SportsCenter on ESPN until 3:00. After all, this was no time for sleep; that's what November was for!

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