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The American League Championship Series (ALCS) was Major League Baseball (MLB) playoff series to decide the champion of the American League (AL) for the 2004 season. It was played between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The Red Sox won the series four games to three, having been down three games to none in the best-of-seven series. It was played at Fenway Parkmarker and Yankee Stadiummarker, between October 12 and October 20, 2004.

The Red Sox earned their place in the playoffs by winning the American League wild card. The Yankees made it by winning the American League East with the best record in the American League. In the American League Division Series, the Red Sox defeated the Anaheim Angels, while the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins.

In Game 1, Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina pitched a perfect game through six innings, while the Red Sox recovered from an eight-run deficit to close within one run before the Yankees eventually won. A home run by John Olerud helped the Yankees win Game 2. The Yankees gathered 22 hits in Game 3 on their way to an easy win. The Yankees led Game 4 by one run in the ninth inning, however a steal of second base by Red Sox base runner Dave Roberts and a single by Bill Mueller off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tied the game. A home run by David Ortiz then won it for the Red Sox in extra innings. Ortiz also won Game 5 with a single in the fourteenth inning. Curt Schilling pitched seven innings in Game 6 for the Red Sox, during which time his sock became soaked in blood. The Red Sox won Game 6 and then Game 7 to become the first team in MLB history to win a series after being down three games to none. David Ortiz was named the series Most Valuable Player.

Game summaries

Game 1

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at Yankee Stadium marker in Bronx, New Yorkmarker

Game 1 pitted the Red Sox's star pitcher Curt Schilling against Yankees ace Mike Mussina. Schilling entered the game with a 6–1 postseason career record, but the expected pitchers' duel quickly became a one-sided exhibition. Unbeknownst at the start of the game, Schilling had sustained a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle during his start in the American League Division Series against the Angels, and proved to be ineffective. Mussina, meanwhile, retired the first nineteen Red Sox batters. After scoring six runs off Schilling, the Yankees added two more off Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the sixth. A Hideki Matsui single made the score 8–0 and gave him an ALCS record-tying five RBIs in the game.

The Red Sox ended Mussina's bid for a perfect game with a rally of five runs in the seventh and added two more in the eighth, closing the gap to 8–7. With two outs and the tying run on third base, however, the Yankees called upon closer Mariano Rivera, who induced a pop out by Kevin Millar. The Yankees scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth on a double by Bernie Williams. The Sox hit two singles in the top of the ninth inning, but the game ended when Bill Mueller grounded into a double play.

Game 2

Wednesday, October 13, 2004 at Yankee Stadium marker in Bronx, New Yorkmarker

Game 2 featured Pedro Martínez of the Red Sox facing Yankees pitcher Jon Lieber. Again, the Yankees struck first, as Gary Sheffield drove in Derek Jeter in the first inning. The 1–0 score held up for several innings, as Lieber and Martinez put together a classic pitchers' duel.

Martinez got himself in and out of trouble through several innings, but, shortly after making his 100th pitch of the night, walked Jorge Posada and allowed a John Olerud home run, giving New York a 3–0 lead.

Again, the Red Sox rallied, chasing Lieber with two hits in the eighth to close the gap, 3–1. With two outs and a runner on third, however, the Yankees again turned to Rivera, who struck out Johnny Damon to end the inning. Rivera shut down the Red Sox in the ninth by inducing a ground out by Mark Bellhorn, and, after giving up a double to Manny Ramírez, striking out David Ortiz and Millar, ending the game.

Game 3

Saturday, October 16, 2004 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

With the series moving to Fenway Parkmarker, Game 3 was originally scheduled for October 15, but was postponed a day due to rain. The starting pitchers were Kevin Brown for the Yankees and Bronson Arroyo for the Red Sox.

As in the first two games, the Yankees began by scoring in the first. Derek Jeter walked and scored from first on a double by Alex Rodríguez. Two batters later, Hideki Matsui hit a home run to right field, giving the Yankees a 3–0 lead. The Red Sox answered in the second inning with a leadoff walk by Jason Varitek and a Trot Nixon home run to right field. A double by Bill Mueller, an infield hit by Johnny Damon (his first hit of the series), and a Derek Jeter error led to two more runs. The Red Sox led for the first time in the series, 4–3.

This lead was short-lived, as Alex Rodríguez led off the third inning with a home run over the Green Monster. Gary Sheffield then walked and Hideki Matsui doubled, prompting Bronson Arroyo to be replaced on the mound by Ramiro Mendoza, who immediately allowed a Bernie Williams RBI single and then balked, allowing Matsui to score from third, letting the Yankees lead 6–4. The Red Sox, however, responded by tying the game in the bottom of the inning, scoring two runs on an Orlando Cabrera double off Yankees reliever Javier Vazquez. After three innings, the game was tied at six.

In the fourth inning, the Yankees took the lead on a three-run home run to left by Gary Sheffield. After another double by Hideki Matsui, the Red Sox put in pitcher Tim Wakefield, who volunteered to forgo his scheduled Game 4 start in order to preserve Boston's battered bullpen. Wakefield got Bernie Williams to pop out and then intentionally walked Jorge Posada. Rubén Sierra then tripled to score Matsui and Posada, giving the Yankees an 11–6 lead.

From that point on the Yankees were in control, setting a team record for postseason runs scored. The two teams combined for 37 hits and 20 extra-base hits, both postseason records. At four hours and twenty minutes, the game was the longest nine-inning postseason game ever played. Hideki Matsui had five hits and five RBIs, tying LCS records. Along with Alex Rodríguez, he tied the postseason record for runs scored with five.

Game 4

Sunday, October 17, 2004 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

Game 4 featured Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernández, the 1999 ALCS MVP and Boston's Derek Lowe. For the first time in the series, the Yankees did not score in the first inning. The Yankees, however, did score first when Alex Rodríguez hit a two-run home run over the Green Monster in the third. This hit resembled a home run he hit in Game 3, as it also came in the third inning and went out of the park onto Lansdowne Street. This would be followed by the ball being thrown back into the outfield by fans on the Street, Johnny Damon tossing the ball back over the fence, and the ball once again being tossed back before being pocketed by Umpire Joe West.

Hernández, who had not pitched in two weeks, struggled through the first four innings but did not allow any runs. In the fifth inning, he pitched himself into a jam, walking two of the first three batters. With two men on and two out, Orlando Cabrera singled to right field, scoring one run. Manny Ramírez walked to load the bases, and then David Ortiz hit a single to center field, scoring two and giving the Red Sox a 3–2 lead, only their second lead of the series.

The lead lasted less than an inning. Hideki Matsui hit a triple in the sixth, after which Mike Timlin relieved Lowe. Bernie Williams hit an infield single to score Matsui and tie the game. The Yankees added a second run on a tough, bouncing ground ball hit by Tony Clark, starting in place of the injured John Olerud, to take a 4–3 lead.

Massachusetts native Tanyon Sturtze pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Hernández. Mariano Rivera, the Yankees star closer, entered the game in the eighth for a two inning save attempt. In the 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 eleventh inning, but the game remained tied until the bottom of the twelfth. 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.

Game 5

Monday, October 18, 2004 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

Game 5 began at 5:11 p.m. EST on the evening of Monday, October 18, just sixteen hours after Game 4 had ended the previous night. Mike Mussina led the Yankees against Boston's Pedro Martínez. The Red Sox drew first blood this time, as David Ortiz drove in a run and Jason Varitek walked with the bases loaded in the first inning to give Boston a 2–0 lead. Bernie Williams homered in the second inning to close the gap to 2–1, a score which would hold up for several innings.

Despite seven strikeouts by Martínez, in the top of the sixth inning, Jorge Posada and Rubén Sierra singled with one out. After Miguel Cairo was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Derek Jeter cleared the bases with a double, giving the Yankees a 4–2 lead. The Red Sox threatened again in the seventh inning, but came up empty. For the second straight night, however, the Yankee bullpen couldn't keep the lead. Ortiz led off the eighth inning with a home run off former Red Sox reliever Tom Gordon, making it a one-run game. Kevin Millar followed with a walk and was again replaced by pinch runner Dave Roberts, who went to third on Trot Nixon's single. Gordon was replaced by Mariano Rivera with the lead still intact, but Jason Varitek's sacrifice fly tied the game, Rivera's second consecutive blown save in the ALCS. The Yankees threatened in the top of the ninth when Tony Clark hit a ball to deep right with two outs, but the ball took a hop over the short right-field wall for a ground-rule double, forcing Rubén Sierra to stop at third base, where he was stranded to set up another extra-inning marathon.

Each team got its share of base runners in extra innings. Boston's Doug Mientkiewicz doubled in the tenth and moved to third, but did not score. Two Red Sox led off the eleventh with singles, but Esteban Loaiza, who had struggled since being acquired by the Yankees mid-season, came in to pitch with one out and got Orlando Cabrera to ground into a double play. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield came on in relief once again for the Red Sox in the twelfth. He allowed a single to Miguel Cairo, who went to second on a Manny Ramírez error, but Cairo was eventually stranded. In the top of the thirteenth, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who does not normally catch for Wakefield and who admits to be poor at catching knuckleballs, allowed three passed balls, but the Yankees stranded runners on second and third. Loaiza pitched well, but, in the bottom of the fourteenth, Damon and Ramírez walked, bringing up Ortiz with two outs. The previous night's hero did his job again, singling to center on the 10th pitch of the at-bat to bring home Damon and setting off another celebration at Fenway. Ortiz's heroics prompted Fox TV announcer Tim McCarver to gush shortly afterwards, saying, "He didn't do it again, did he? Yes he did." The late inning heroics of Ortiz also gave the Red Sox fans a chance to create their own chant, "Who's your Papi?" (Ortiz being known affectionately as "Big Papi"), in rebuttal to the "Who's your daddy?" chant used by Yankees fans in reference to a quote by Pedro Martínez.

The game set the record for longest duration of a postseason game at 5 hours, 49 minutes, a record which was later broken by Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves, which was one minute longer.

This victory by the Red Sox forced a Game 6. Before this, the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets were the only baseball teams ever to be down 0–3 in a seven-game series and force a Game 6, but neither of those teams won that game.

Game 6

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at Yankee Stadium marker in Bronx, New Yorkmarker

Game 6 was held on Tuesday, October 19 at Yankee Stadium. The starting pitchers were Curt Schilling of the Red Sox and Jon Lieber of the Yankees. Schilling pitched with a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle, which was sutured in place in an unprecedented procedure by Red Sox team doctors. The teams played the first few innings scoreless, but in the fourth inning, Boston struck first with a two-out single by Jason Varitek, driving in Kevin Millar. Mark Bellhorn, who had struggled the entire series, then drove a fair hit into the left field stands. The ball struck a fan in the chest and dropped back onto the field, after which left field umpire Jim Joyce signaled the ball to be still in play, prompting Boston manager Terry Francona to run onto the field and argue the ruling. The officiating crew huddled and ultimately overruled the call. Bellhorn had a three-run home run and the Red Sox had a 4–0 lead.

Schilling, still injured from the ALDS and Game 1, pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one run on a Bernie Williams home run. To help stabilize the tendon in his ankle, Red Sox doctors had placed three suture connecting the skin with ligament and deep connective tissue next to the bone, effectively creating a wall of tissue to keep the peroneal tendon from disrupting Schilling's pitching mechanics. By the end of his performance, Schilling's white sock was partially soaked in blood, and he stated later that he was completely exhausted.

Bronson Arroyo took the mound for Boston in the eighth and, with one out, allowed a Miguel Cairo double. Derek Jeter singled him in to close the gap to 4–2, leading up to the series' most controversial play. Alex Rodriguez grounded a ball to Arroyo, who picked up the ball and ran to the baseline to tag Rodríguez out, but the Yankee slapped Arroyo's arm, knocking the ball loose. While the ball rolled down the baseline, Rodríguez went to second and Jeter scored. After another long conversation among the umpires, Rodríguez was called out for interference and Jeter was ordered back to first, thus wiping out the score. The Red Sox got out of the inning without further damage. The call further incensed the Yankee fans, already irate over the home run call in the fourth. As Torre and Rodríguez continued to frenetically argue with the umpires, many fans began to throw balls and other debris onto the field. Boston manager Terry Francona pulled his players from the field to protect them. After a delay, order was restored when NYPD officers took the field in riot gear. The presence of riot police on the field for a full inning was unprecedented in American professional sports and reflected the chaotic environment of that evening. The Red Sox were retired in the top of the ninth. Red Sox closer Keith Foulke came in for the bottom of the ninth and allowed Matsui and Sierra to walk, bringing Tony Clark to the plate as the potential pennant-winning run, but Clark struck out swinging on a full count to end the game.

The Red Sox, the 26th team in Major League Baseball playoff history to face a 3–0 series deficit, became the first to force a Game Seven.

Game 7

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at Yankee Stadium marker in Bronx, New Yorkmarker

For inspiration for their ALCS comeback, the Red Sox gathered in Yankee Stadium's visitors' clubhouse prior to Game 7 to watch Miracle, the movie chronicling the 1980 U.S. men's gold-medal hockey team.

Game 7 began at 8:30 in the evening on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at Yankee Stadium. The starting pitchers were Derek Lowe for the Red Sox and Kevin Brown for the Yankees. Johnny Damon led off the game by singling to left and stealing second, but was thrown out at home trying to score on a Manny Ramirez base hit. The very next pitch, however, was lined into the right-field bleachers by David Ortiz to give Boston a 2–0 advantage. In the second inning, the Sox loaded the bases against Brown, causing Yankees manager Joe Torre to remove him and put in Javier Vázquez to face Johnny Damon. Damon hammered Vázquez' first pitch into the right-field seats for a grand slam. The rout was on. Damon, who also had a two-run homer in the fourth, had three hits in the game, despite having only three hits previously in the series. Boston also enjoyed a solid performance from their starting pitcher, Derek Lowe, who allowed only one run and one hit in six innings of work. Lowe, who had significant bullpen experience for the Red Sox, was never even intended to be a starter in the postseason. He pitched game seven on just two days of rest.

Pedro Martínez relieved Lowe in the seventh inning, receiving loud chants of "Who's Your Daddy?," which intensified as he gave up a sequence of hits, allowing two runs. He eventually raised the velocity of his fastball to the mid-90s and shut down the rally. Mike Timlin and Alan Embree finished out the game. At 12:01 a.m., on October 21, Rubén Sierra hit a groundball to second baseman Pokey Reese, who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to finish the unprecedented comeback. The Red Sox won 10–3 and became the first team in Major League Baseball history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games. David Ortiz was named the series MVP.


New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox

Composite box

2004 ALCS (4–3): Boston Red Sox over New York Yankees

Series quotes


  • The Red Sox set a Major League postseason record by becoming the first team to win eight straight postseason games in the same postseason (four straight in the ALCS and four consecutive games in the World Series). The Oakland Athletics had won ten straight postseason games but they were spread out over two postseasons (the 1989 ALCS and World Series, and the 1990 ALCS). The New York Yankees won eleven straight games also over two consecutive postseasons (the 1998 ALCS and World Series through the 1999 ALDS and into the 1999 ALCS).
  • The Red Sox became the first team in MLB history to lose the first three games of a best-of-seven series [ALCS] and win the last four games of the series.
  • Game 3 was the longest nine-inning postseason game in history, a 4 hour and 20 minute contest.
  • In Game 3 Yankee left fielder Hideki Matsui had five hits and five RBIs, tying an American League Championship Series record.
  • Game 5 was the longest Major League postseason game in history at 5 hours and 49 minutes until Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves which lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes.
  • David Ortiz became the first player to hit two walk-off HRs in the same postseason, 2004 American League Division Series Game 3 and 2004 ALCS Game 4.


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