The Red Sox creamolished the Yankees tonight in the Bronx to advance to the World Serious for the first time since 1986. Truthfully, it wasn’t much of a contest at all. Johnny Damon led off the first inning with a single to left off of Kevin Brown, and promptly stole second. He was thrown out at the plate moments later, but then David Ortiz deposited a room service fastball into the right field seats to give Boston a quick 2-0 lead. Brown, who enraged teammates and Yankee fans alike when he broke his left hand punching a clubhouse wall late this season, didn’t have anything. He recorded a grand total of four outs and left the bases loaded for Javier Vazquez in the second inning. Damon glicked Vazquez’s first pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam.
Damon was having a truly awful series until tonight. He would add a two-run moon shot into the upper deck later on for good measure. Meanwhile, Derek Lowe’s sinker was working and the Yankee offense went down with much of a fight. Lowe allowed one run on one hit over six innings. Curiously, he was replaced by Pedro Martinez in the top of the seventh with the Sox comfortably ahead 8-1. The only explanation I have for the decision is that Terry Francona wanted Martinez to exact a measure of revenge against the New York crowd. So Pedro gave up back-to-back doubles to Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams. Kenny Lofton added an RBI single and for the first time all night, the crowd was energized, chanting, “Who’s Your Daddy?” I think it was a cheap move by Francona but I understand his thinking. Johnny Damon and the rest of the team showed a class and restraint as they whupped the home team but good. Bringing in Pedro in that spot struck me as crass.
However, it would be the only speed bump in an otherwise glorious night for Boston. Martinez worked out of the inning and Mark Bellhorn blasted a home run off the right field foul pole off of Tom Gordon in the top of the eighth; Boston tacked on another run in the ninth. There would be no great Yankee comeback this time. At 12:01 on Thursday morning, October 21, 2004, Ruben Sierra grounded out to second base as the Red Sox finally beat their arch-rivals in a money game.
Fact is, this game will go down as one of the single most deflating losses in Yankee history. Plus, losing this series, after leading 3-0, just three outs from the World Serious in Game 4, has got to be one of the most painful, if not the most painful failures in Yankee history. There will be plenty of time for Yankee fans to examine what went wrong over the winter. There is blame to go all around: pitching, hitting, managing. The 2004 Yankees will be remembered as the team that choked, that blew the pennant, which is a shame because although they were a flawed team—no, $183 million couldn’t buy a flawless squad—they were an enjoyable and for the most part, likeable one. They gave us a lot to be thankful for this year, which only makes losing like this sting even more.
For the moment, I simply feel numb. But what can I say? The Yankees didn’t deserve to win and the Sox did. They earned it as much as the Yankees squandered it. This is easily one of the most significant wins in Boston sports history. There are plenty of card-carrying members of Red Sox Nation at Yankee Stadium and they have unleashed a celebration that is sure to last for the next several days.
I’d like to take this time to wish the warmest congratulations to my cousin Scott Adams and my good pal Johnny Red Sox. This has been a long time coming for you guys. You deserve to feel this good. Same goes out to my man Edward Cossette, not to mention the other Red Sox voices out there on the Internet like Sully, Beth, Hart, William Bragg, and Ben Jacobs. I’m sure I’m forgetting many more. But again, congrats. I know how sweet it is, just as I’m sure you’ve got some insight into how low I’m now feeling. The Yankees will be back next year. But for now, they’ve got a long winter staring them straight in the kisser, while the Red Sox will represent the American League in the World Serious and attempt to win their first championship since 1918.