The Boston Red Sox are in a good place to be spoilers for the New York Yankees. The Red Sox became legendary when they took down the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Boston mounted the most amazing playoff comeback ever seen in MLB history and the Yankees choked unlike any other baseball team before them.
New York led the series 3-0 and that included a game three 19-8 blowout of Boston at Fenway Park. Facing elimination at any time, Boston came back four straight, winning games with big homers, base stealing and sheer guts.
In game four, facing elimination, Boston sent Derek Lowe to the mound. He pitched well but left before notching the win. That was the game in which the Red Sox were about to be eliminated in the ninth, as the Yankees were ahead 4-3 going into the last inning.
In the ninth, after Kevin “Cowboy Up” Millar walked, Dave Roberts went in as a pinch runner. Roberts stole second on closer Mariano Rivera and then Bill Mueller stroked a single that scored Roberts. The game went into extra innings tied 4-4. Then David Ortiz won it with a walk off homer in the bottom of the 12th. The series was Red Sox 1 game and Yankees 3.
It was the ALCS that featured Kurt Shilling and his bloody, red sock as the Boston ace underwent a painful procedure that would allow him to pitch in and win game 6. It was Tim Wakefield, a fan favorite and knuckleballer, who won the fifth game, giving Shilling the chance to pitch. Derek Lowe won game 7 to secure the ALCS, as Boston took the championship by humiliating the Bronx Bombers in their home park 10-3. The Red Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1918, beating the Cincinnati Reds four straight.
The final October series against the Yankees, which runs from the first through the third of the month, won’t have that type of energy and this time the Red Sox won’t have anything at stake. They do have the opportunity to be pure spoilers. That’s all they can do—take the Yankees out of the playoff picture. That is as long as the Yanks have not notched the AL East title and as long as there are enough clubs still vying for the Wild Card.
The pitching matchups aren’t yet announced but if the Red Sox have an opportunity to keep the Yanks out of the playoffs and be real spoilers, I think it’s going to be one heck of a series. It could make what has been a miserable season one that is worth celebrating (at least a little bit).
The next few weeks will set the stage for what could be the biggest spoiler series in a long time. If that does happen, it will be a true “Cowboy Up” moment for a team that had become about as hapless as any I have ever seen. What might have been a nothing series could end up being a huge one.