Red Sox in History: July 24, 2004
A soggy day at Fenway delayed what would be an early afternoon game between The Red Sox and their heated rival, the New York Yankees. Rain had made the grass almost unplayable, it was the Sox that wanted to play the game.
At the time the Sox were playing some of their worst baseball of the year. They couldn't hit, field, or even run. Just barely playing over .500 ball at 10-10 in the month of July at that point and were eight and a half games back of the Yankees. Coming off of a crushing 8-7 loss the night before. A loss this day would mean that the Sox may as well just hand the Yankees the division, like they had so many times in years past. A win though; a win would help them stay in contention for the coveted division championship and build momentum towards doing so.
The game had started almost for the usual for the Sox at the time. They came out sluggish, they didn't hit, couldn't field, and worse, starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo had given up three runs.
There was tension in the air though, and it was thick. In the top of the thrid, Arroyo gave up what would be the most famous plunk in his career by hitting Alex Rodriguez. Tempers quickly flared. Rodriguez who had been jawing at the ump, then soon turning to Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "I told him, in choice words, to get to first base." said Varitek. The two would soon proceed to get in each others face and then square off, clearing both benches and bullpens. Rodriguez and Varitek were both ejected.
Something looked like it was getting started, both Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon had got ground out RBI's in the bottom of the third, and in the fourth Nomar Garciaparra singled to center, scoring bot Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.
The momentum was short lived though when in the top of the fifth Red Sox Manager Terry Francona was ejected for a questionable call by the umpires. The shift then again went to the Yankees.
In the top of the sixth, the Yankees would pile on runs, starting with Hideki Matsui's double scoring both Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez's replacement Enrique Wilson. Miguel Cairo would then follow suit with a single scoring Matsui. Things got even more bleek. With the bases loaded Curtis Leskanic who in in for relief of Bronson Arroyo, gives up a bases loaded walk to Gary Sheffield. While Wilson again feasted on Sox pitching scoring both Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. 9-4 Yankees at this point.
From what seemed like another pinstripe knockout blow, came a resurgence. In the bottom of the sixth, the Sox came roaring back. Bill Mueller would hit a sac fly out to center scoring Nomar Garciaparra. Mark Bellhorn would double scoring Trot Nixon. Johnny Damon would then get a base knock of his own, scoring Kevin Millar. Then, the Yanks would have a bases loaded blunder of their own. Felix Heredia, who came in for Paul Quantrill, walked Manny Ramirez. The Sox were now down 9-8.
Momentum would shift once again, when Ruben Sierra homered off of Sox reliever Mark Malaska making it 10-8.
The bottom of the ninth approached, the fight had not left this team. No way, no how, were they going to let another slip away from them, let alone against the Yankees. Though the odds were against them. Closer Mariano Rivera had stepped in to seal the deal for the pinstripes in the bottom of the ninth. But this time, this time he faced an opponent that wasn't afraid of him, they weren't backing down. Things would start right away with Nomar, once again in the limelight. Garciaparra smashed a ball into left for a double. Kevin Millar would then follow suit with a single of his own, scoring Nomar. Dave McCarty would then pinch run for the sluggish Millar, though it really wasn't needed. Bill Mueller would step into the box once again, this time facing Rivera. Up 3-1 in the count, Mueller would see his pitch. Putting that ball right where it belonged in the right center field stands. Red Sox win 11-10.
A joyous moment for everyone, the fans, the staff, and even the people watching at home. This was like watching a heavyweight fight, blow for blow, tit for tat. This just isn't any rivalry, this is Red Sox/Yankees. From that point on, it was the Sox that laughed. Things sure do get crazy when the tables turn, huh?