1) 2004: The “Curse” ends with 3-0 comeback
The year after Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees would meet in the postseason once again in 2004. For the first three games, it looked like the result would be the same.
In Game 1, Yankees starter Mike Mussina took a perfect game into the seventh as New York won 10-7. The Game 2 starter, Jon Lieber, gave up just three hits in seven one-run innings to lead the Yankees to a 3-1 win. And in Game 3, the Yankees erupted for 19 runs to take a 3-0 series lead. History was against the Red Sox trying to end the “Curse of the Bambino.” No team had ever come back from three games down to win a playoff series in baseball history.
The series looked like it would be a short one, as the Yankees took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth in Game 4 with closer Mariano Rivera on the mound. Rivera, however, walked the first batter of the inning, Kevin Millar. Dave Roberts came in to pinch-run for Millar and swiped second base to put the tying run in scoring position. Bill Mueller then hit a single up the middle to score Roberts and send the game into extra innings. It remained tied going to the 12th, when David Ortiz homered into the bullpen in right field to extend the series.
It would take even longer to decide the fifth game. Rivera once again blew the save as Boston scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to tie. Ortiz was once again the hero, hitting a single to center in the 14th to give the Red Sox a 5-4 win and send the series back to New York.
Curt Schilling, scheduled to make the Game 6 start for Boston, played through a torn tendon in his ankle. Team doctors were able to suture the tendon together, but it wasn’t in place for long. Schilling pitched the game with blood pouring into his white sock, giving up just one run and four hits in seven innings. Lieber, who pitched brilliantly in Game 2, faltered this time and surrendered a three-run homer to Mark Bellhorn that was the difference in Boston’s 4-2 win.
For all the drama the last three games had, Game 7 proved to be anti-climatic. Boston took an early 2-0 lead after Ortiz homered off Kevin Brown in the first inning. Then, in the second inning, Johnny Damon hit a grand slam off Javier Vazquez as Boston took a six-run lead. Damon would homer again in the fourth, and New York was never able to recover. Boston won the game 10-3 to complete the biggest comeback baseball had ever seen.
The Red Sox would maintain their momentun into the World Series, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in a series in which they never trailed. It was the Red Sox first title in 86 years and finally erased memories of the curse that had plagured Red Sox fans for so long.