Dave Roberts keeps Boston’s hope alive
It was Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Yankees had an empowering 3-0 lead in the series, just one win away from knocking their rival Boston out of the postseason and advancing to their fourth World Series in five years.
At Fenway Park, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kevin Millar stood in against Mariano Rivera, who was working with a 4-3 lead. Millar drew a walk, and Dave Roberts entered the ball game as a pinch runner. Roberts was getting under the skin of Rivera, who knew that Boston skipper Terry Francona had inserted Roberts into the game for one reason: to steal a base.
“I was ready to go,” said Roberts. “Terry told me at the top of the ninth I’d be running for whoever got on. So when Kevin walked, Terry just looked down at me and kind of winked and said, ‘You know what to do.’”
After three unsuccessful pickoff attempts, Rivera made his first delivery to Red Sox third baseman Bill Mueller. Roberts took off immediately after noticing the Yankee closer was delivering to the plate, swiping second base and setting up an RBI opportunity for Mueller. Mueller drove Rivera’s 1-1 delivery up the middle for a base hit, allowing Roberts to score from second and tie the game at four.
In the twelfth inning, the Red Sox would win the game on a two-run home run off the bat of designated hitter David Ortiz.
Roberts’ stolen base was not just the beginning of Boston’s rally to win Game 4. Incredibly, the Red Sox would win the next three games to take the American League pennant from the Yankees and sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in four games.