Red Sox begin amazing comeback
2004 ALCS, Game 4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12 innings)
In the end, it's the games that matter. The anticipation that this game may produce something special. It's why we sit through Titans 47, Rams 7. It's why we sift through blogs and trade rumors and box scores. We like the games. We picked the 25 best games, matches and races of the decade -- believe us, it wasn't easy -- and listed them in reverse chronological order. We want you to rank the best. Enjoy the look back as ESPN.com writers remember these classics.
The Yankees had won Game 3, 19-8. What's worse? Losing to your enemy in heartbreaking pain like the Red Sox had the year before or getting trampled and embarrassed in four quick games?
"The Red Sox have laid a brontosaurus egg in the American League Championship Series," Bob Ryan wrote in the Boston Globe. "They are down, 3-0 ... and, in this sport, that is an official death sentence. Soon it will be over, and we will spend another dreary winter lamenting this and lamenting that."
"[T]he Red Sox have been beaten senseless by those damn Yankees again, and the psychological toll threatens to shake the faith of a long-suffering Nation. How much more can New Englanders take?" wrote the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy. "For the 86th consecutive autumn, the Red Sox are not going to win the World Series."
"I think it's time to break out those 'Bronx Bombers' T-shirts again," Yankees legend Reggie Jackson said after the assault. "These guys are like a hurricane. Hurricane Yankee."
Sometimes all it takes is one game. One inning. One stolen base. One patient at-bat to begin a rally for the ages.
Kevin Millar drew the leadoff walk off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. Dave Roberts pinch-ran and stole the base -- inches, fingertips, ahead of the tag. Bill Mueller singled him home to tie the game.
David Ortiz, of course, would belt the home run off Paul Quantrill in the 12th to keep the Red Sox alive. He would deliver more heroics the following night, driving in the winning run in the 14th inning. Curt Schilling would win Game 6. The Sox would win Game 7.
"The Choke's On Us" read the headline in the New York Daily News.
The World Series? Almost an anticlimactic sweep.
But my favorite note from that ALCS: Do you remember the winning pitcher in Game 4? I would bet 90 percent of Red Sox fans -- even the die-hard ones -- would struggle to get the right answer.
It was Curtis Leskanic, a journeyman 36-year-old right-hander who had been released in June by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals.
Leskanic had entered in the 11th inning with the bases loaded and two outs. He got Bernie Williams to fly out to center. In the 12th, he allowed a leadoff single, but then retired Ruben Sierra, Tony Clark and Miguel Cairo. On his last pitch of the inning, Cairo swung and missed.
It would be the final pitch Leskanic threw in the majors. He didn't pitch the rest of the ALCS and didn't appear in the World Series. He called it quits.
He threw 13 pitches that night. Lucky 13.
-- David Schoenfield