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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Deja vu all over again?

In 1986, the Boston Red trailed the California Angels 5-2 in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series and 3-1 in games.
In the ninth, Witt was two outs away from his second complete game victory of the series when Don Baylor hit a two-strike, two-run home run to pull the Red Sox within one run. After retiring the next batter, Witt was replaced by left-hander Gary Lucas. With his very first pitch, Lucas hit batter Rich Gedman, and was replaced by Donnie Moore. The Angels closer brought his team within one strike of its first-ever AL pennant, but Henderson caught hold of a Moore forkball and launched a home run into the left field stands, stunning the hometown crowd and greatly redeeming himself for his earlier miscue. Boston had taken a 6-5 lead.

The lead would not last, however, as in the bottom of the ninth, Boone singled, and Jones pinch-ran for him. Pettis sacrificed Jones to second, and Wilfong singled him home, tying the game. Schofield then singled, sending Wilfong to third, and Downing was intentionally walked to load the bases with only one out. All of Boston's top-half heroics would have been washed away with a mere sacrifice fly at this point. But instead, DeCinces only managed to hit a short fly ball to right field. Grich's subsequent line-out to pitcher Steve Crawford ended the inning.

The teams settled down and the 10th inning was again scoreless, but the Red Sox loaded the bases in the top of the 11th for Henderson. He hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Baylor with the go-ahead run. Calvin Schiraldi then retired the Halos in order in the bottom of the 11th, completing a shocking comeback and breaking the hearts of Angels fans.
The Red Sox went on to win the Series in seven games and then lost the World Series to the Mets in seven games.

In 2004, the Red Sox trailed the Hated Yankees 3-0 in games and led 4-3 going to the bottom of the 9th inning.
In that fateful ninth inning, Rivera allowed a lead-off walk to Kevin Millar, which would prove to be the turning point of the series. Dave Roberts was then chosen to pinch-run for Millar. With the Red Sox down to their final three outs, Rivera checked Roberts at first base several times before throwing a pitch to Bill Mueller.

According to Roberts, "The first [time Rivera checked me at first base], I felt I got the jitters and then it kind of dissipated a little bit. The second time the jitters were all gone and I was really into it. After the third pick over was a close play, I think the second one was really close also, and then I felt like I had been there from the first inning on."

Roberts added, "At that point I knew, regardless of a slidestep or whatever, once he goes home, I'm going to run on the pitch. If he would have went to the plate the first pitch, I wouldn't have went. Running down that tunnel in October, it's hard to get loose. But that [series of pickoff attempts] kind of helped me out a little bit."

On Rivera's first pitch to Bill Mueller, the speedy Roberts stole second, putting himself in scoring position. Mueller's single allowed Roberts to score, resulting in Rivera blowing the save and the game going into extra innings, tied 4-4.

Both teams threatened for more runs in the 11th inning, but the game remained tied until the bottom of the 12th. Ramírez led off with a single against new pitcher Paul Quantrill, and Ortiz hit a two-run walk-off home run to right field. Ortiz became the first player with two walk-off homers in the same postseason; his first capped a Red Sox sweep of the Anaheim Angels in the American League Division Series.
Let's go to the videotape.

The Red Sox went on to win three straight games from the Chokees - two of them in New York - and to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Championship in 86 years.

In 2007, the Red Sox trailed the Indians 3-1 in games in the ALCS, but one year ago tonight Josh Beckett shut them down and the Sox went on to win the last three games of the Series and to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

On Thursday night, the Sox were down 7-0 with two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning of Game 5, down 3-1 in games to the Tampa Bay Rays. They scored eight runs in the last three innings - the second biggest comeback in a game in post-season history. Saturday night, they beat the Rays in Tampa 4-2 with catcher Jason Varitek (pictured with manager Terry Francona) hitting a home run for the game-winning hit.

Deja vu all over again? We got 'em right where we want 'em.


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