Sox awaken hopes of being first to come back from 3-0 down
Posted: Monday October 18, 2004 2:59AM; Updated: Monday October 18, 2004 2:59AM
Bill Mueller's ninth-inning single kept hope alive for the Red Sox.
BOSTON -- Someday, and hopefully someday soon, I'd like to sit down to watch a postseason baseball game and not get up five hours later with a headache the size of Rhode Island and a nasty case of bedsores.
Someday, I'd like to grab some nachos at the ballpark with real cheese, not the stuff that looks like yellowish 40-weight motor oil.
And I'd like to see, at some point in my life, a Major League Baseball team come back from the dead. From down 0-3 in a seven-game series. Maybe you've heard this, but that's never been done before. Ever.
Maybe soon? Maybe this week?
The Red Sox, as dead as a team that ever was, made the first step in their run for resurrection on Sunday -- technically, I guess, it was Monday -- rebounding in the most unlikely of ways against the Yankees to win their first game in this American League Championship Series. The Yankees still lead this baby, three games to one, and as we all know, history has a pretty intimidating batting average in these things.
But, still, the possibility for something uniquely special exists now. It's a lot more possible -- or at least it seems that way -- than it was before Boston's 6-4, 12-inning win in Game 4 at Fenway Park. It seems a lot more possible than it did in the bottom of the ninth of that game, when the most unlikely of comebacks began for the Red Sox.
It certainly seemed more possible in the seconds after David Ortiz's two-run walkoff home run won the game for the Sox, at 1:22 a.m. on Monday, five hours and two minutes after it began.
"That's what we're saying: 'Let's make history,'" said reliever Keith Foulke, who went 2 2/3 innings without giving up a run in the game. "We don't want to go down in history as losing this series. We have T-shirts that say 'Why not us?'"
Practically speaking -- and, of course, we're not doing that here, not now, not after that game -- the win probably did nothing more than delay the inevitable. At the most, it earned the Red Sox a little redemption. Maybe it staved off total humiliation.
But in the dreaminess of the stunning win -- in the short time that the Red Sox and their fans have to dream about it before Monday afternoon's Game 5 -- practicality was gone in the night, stomped underneath the thousands of revelers who streamed out of Fenway Park tired but strangely fulfilled.
This night was not about getting a simple win. This was about the possibilities that still exist.
Really. Why not the Red Sox?
"It's a little too early to talk about that," center fielder Johnny Damon said in the wee hours when I asked him about making history. "We have to play each of these games like it's our last, and hope it's not."
The Red Sox finally managed to pull that off late in Game 4 after sleepwalking through the first few innings. They were down to the hated Yankees, who had laughed at them in a 19-8 romp a night before, and the Yankees' super closer, Mariano Rivera, was in.
But Kevin Millar worked a walk, pinch runner Dave Roberts stole second base and then third baseman Bill Mueller smacked a 1-0 pitch up the middle to drive in Roberts with the tying run, 4-4.
It was the third time that Rivera has blown a save against the Red Sox this season, and his second blown save this postseason. (He also blew one against the Twins in the Division Series.)
"Seeing him a lot of times definitely helps," Damon said. "But he still has some overpowering stuff."
In the 12th, with Paul Quantrill on the mound for the Yankees, Manny Ramirez smacked a single to left to start off the inning and then Ortiz launched a 2-1 pitch into the bullpen in right field for his second walkoff home of the playoffs. (He also had the series-clinching homer against the Angels in the Division Series.)
Ortiz danced into the arms of his delirious teammates at home plate. The Fenway fans went wild. Hope reigned. History waited.
"The bottom line is we got one breath left," said Boston's Doug Mientkiewicz, "and we're going to use it to the best of our ability."
Twenty-five teams have gone to 0-3 in baseball's postseason in a best-of-seven series. Twenty of them rolled over in Game 4. Only three took the series to where this one is going, five games, before bowing out. And only two have made it to a Game 6. No team down 0-3 has ever even forced a Game 7.
The Red Sox have their only healthy ace going in Game 5, Pedro Martinez, who pitched well enough to win Game 2, but didn't. And, after that ... maybe Curt Schilling in Game 6 back in New York. Maybe.
It is, you have to admit, a possibility.
"You never know what can happen from now on," Ortiz said. "Now, go home."