Every team wants to end the season on a winning streak -- especially if the last game clinches the 2004 World Series. The 2004 Boston Red Sox did just that. A rough and tumble aggregation, the Sox shucked the "Curse of the Bambino" and steamrolled to the world championship, winning their last eight games.
After finishing a strong second in the American League East to the Yankees, wildcard Boston wiped out West champ Anaheim in a three-game ALDS. Meanwhile, the Yankees won their ALDS in four games against Minnesota, the Central champions, who despite good starts from Cy Young winner Johan Santana twice blew leads in the late innings. Ruben Sierra delivered a key pinch homer in game four to break the Twins' backs.
While the nation anticipated a classic Red Sox/Yankees ALCS, the first three games were all New York. After taking 10-7 and 3-1 wins at home, the Yankees thoroughly embarrassed Boston, 19-8, in game three. When the Yanks went ahead 4-3 in game four, the Red Sox looked done.
But a ninth-inning rally, sparked by Dave Roberts's clutch stolen base, tied the fourth game, and David Ortiz won the contest with a 12th-inning homer. The next night, Boston again outlasted the Yankees, this time triumphing on Ortiz's 14th-inning single. Red Sox fans, deprived of a world title since Babe Ruth was dealt to the Yankees in 1919, rallied around a new slogan: Keep the Faith.
Back in New York, the Red Sox won game six behind Curt Schilling, who pitched seven strong innings despite a torn ankle tendon. With clear momentum, Boston wiped up New York 10-3 in game seven, completing perhaps the greatest postseason comeback in history. No major league team had ever won a postseason series after being down three games to none.
Some great performers watched the postseason on TV. Seattle finished last despite Ichiro Suzuki's .372 average and all-time record 262 hits. Barry Bonds took a staggering 232 walks and captured his seventh National League MVP Award, but the Giants finished second. Young arms Santana and Jake Peavy (of the Padres) served notice, while 40-year-old Randy Johnson authored a perfect game.
Roger Clemens won his seventh Cy Young Award, this one for Houston. Teammate Roy Oswalt's 20 wins propelled the Astros, who appeared dead in August before erupting in September. Wildcard Houston then took the Braves in a five-game NLDS.
In the NLCS, St. Louis (which had eliminated National League West champ Los Angeles) found holes in Houston's bullpen and eked out a league championship in seven tough games. Led by offensive bludgeons Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds, the Cardinals had finished 105-57.
Still high from their ALCS comeback, Boston took game one of the 2004 World Series, breaking a 9-9 tie on Mark Bellhorn's eighth-inning homer. After winning game two 6-2 at Fenway, Boston then shut down the Redbirds 4-1 and 3-0 in St. Louis for a convincing four-game sweep. Rolen and Edmonds combined to go 1-for-30. It was almost too simple. The surprising sweep set New England into another frenzy of celebration.
Far from the Spotlight, the Montreal Expos ended their tenure in Canada after yet another frustrating season of low attendance and poor performance. Washington, D.C., was scheduled to welcome the club for 2005. One thing Washington didn't welcome was baseball's growing steroid scandal. Steroid revelations sullied the reputations of Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, and Barry Bonds, with no end in sight.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 2004 baseball season.
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2004 Baseball Season Headlines
In 2004, Petco Park opened in San Diego, and the steroids scandal came to baseball. Here are some of the headlines from the 2004 baseball season:
Fans and Pitchers Delighted with Petco
San Diego's Petco Park opened to rave reviews in 2004. The ballpark incorporated the city skyline and boasted stucco walls, a palm court, Jacaranda trees, and even water walls. Beyond the outfield fence, fans could enjoy a "beach" and a "park." Petco also featured pitcher-friendly dimensions. The Padres hit just .256 with 57 homers at home in 2004, as opposed to 288 with 82 round-trippers on the road.
Steroids Scandal Rocks the Game
Revelations of steroid use from former MVPs Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, and Ken Caminiti (who died on October 10) led to rumors concerning other stars, including Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield. Commissioner Bud Selig promised action, but some wondered whether the problem would ever be fixed.
J.D. Drew Sparks Braves to National League East Title
Viewed as a disappointment in St. Louis, outfielder J.D. Drew was dealt to Atlanta prior to 2004 and enjoyed his best season, leading the Braves to the National League East title. Batting .305 with 31 homers and 118 walks, Drew ranked fourth in the league in on-base percentage, adding punch to a formerly sagging Braves lineup. He also avoided serious injury for the first time, playing in a career-best 145 games.
Adrian Beltre Belts 48 Big Flys -- a 3B Record
Dodgers third sacker Adrian Beltre, in the last year of his contract, exploded into MVP territory in 2004, batting .334 and topping the majors with 48 home runs -- tied with Mike Schmidt for the most ever by a major league third baseman in a season. Many of his homers were game-winners, as he almost singlehandedly lifted the Dodgers to the National League West title. Following the season, he signed a five-year, $64-million deal with Seattle.
Mariano Rivera Racks Up 53 Saves
Those who already felt that the Yankees' Mariano Rivera was the greatest closer in baseball history could point to his career-high 53 saves in 2004, a total that led the majors. Helping New York win an American League-best 101 games, the 34-year-old Rivera again used his trademark cut fastball to shatter bats, allowing just three home runs in 79 innings.
Vladimir Guerrero Garners MVP Award
Vladimir Guerrero moved to sunny California in 2004 and led the Angels' charge to the American League West title. Earning the American League MVP Award on the strength of a .337-39-126 performance, the 28-year-old Superstar topped the American League in runs (124), total bases (366), and outfield assists (13). He became the first Angels outfielder to start in the All-Star Game since Reggie Jackson in 1984.
Miguel Tejada Lets 'Em Fly in HR Derby
On July 12, 2004, the Orioles' Miguel Tejada belted a record 27 homers in the Home Run Derby, held in Houston prior to the All-Star Game. Tejada's Derby performance was just part of a stellar campaign in which he played in all 162 games and amassed a league-leading 150 RBI. He also ranked among the American League's top ten in homers, hits, doubles, total bases, and extra-base hits.
Greg Maddux Logs 300th Win
On August 7, 2004, Cubs right-hander Greg Maddux notched his 300th career victory at San Francisco. After the season, he was awarded a Gold Glove -- the 14th of his career. Overall, however, 2004 was disappointing for the Hall of Fame-bound 38-year-old. While he finished 16-11, winning at least 15 games for a major league-record 17th consecutive season, Maddux had to watch the playoffs on television. The Cubs, in the catbird seat for the wildcard berth, lost five straight at home in the season's final week.
Check out more headlines from the 2004 baseball season on the next page.
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More 2004 Baseball Season Headlines
Below are more headlines from the 2004 baseball season, including Barry Bonds's continued great performance in spite of rumors regarding his use of illegal steroids, and the Red Sox finally winning the World Series for the first time since 1918.
Barry Bonds: 232 Walks, 700th Home Run
Though Barry Bonds won a record seventh National League MVP Award in 2004, his season was tainted by allegations of illegal steroid use. During the campaign, Bonds belted 45 home runs, including his 700th career four-bagger on September 17. He also took his second batting title (.362) and drew a ridiculous 232 walks, shattering his own major-league record by 34. The steroid furor, however, further diminished the public's tepid regard for the 40-year-old superstar.
Johan Santana Rocks! Wins American League Cy Young
In his first year as a regular starter, Minnesota's Johan Santana posted ERAs of 5.40 in April 2004 and 5.79 in May. After that, he was utterly unhittable, not allowing more than two earned runs in 21 of his final 22 Starts. He was 5-0 in September, allowing just two runs overall. An easy Cy Young Award winner, the lefty went 20-6 and paced the American League in ERA (2.61) and strikeouts (265).
Houston's Killer Bs Deadly in October
While the Astros didn't get to the 2004 World Series, it certainly wasn't the fault of Lance Berkman or Carlos Belran. Berkman batted .348 in the playoffs with four homers and 12 RBI. Belran, meanwhile, blasted .455 with four homers and nine RBI in the NLDS and .417 with four more homers in a losing effort against St. Louis in the NLCS. Belran also displayed spectacular defense in center field.
Curt Schilling Bleeds for Boston
Curt Schilling could have made a fortune on eBay selling his bloody red sock. In game six of the ALCS -- despite suffering from a torn ankle tendon that eventually required surgery -- Schilling pitched seven quality innings to earn a 4-2 victory over the rival Yankees. Schilling, who led the American League with 21 wins during the regular season, also won game two of the 2004 World Series.
David Ortiz Bashes the Big Hits
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who slugged .301 with 41 homers and 139 RBI in 2004, amassed 19 RBI and cracked three game-winning hits in the 2004 postseason. First, he won the clinching game three of the American League Division Series with a walk-off homer against Anaheim. He also ended game four of the ALCS against New York with a post-midnight homer.
High-Flying Derek Lowe Wins All Three Clinchers
The 2004 regular season was a struggle for Derek Lowe, who racked up a 5.42 ERA. In October, however, he came up big. With Boston's pitching staff in tatters, Lowe won all three clinchers. First, he triumphed in game three of the ALDS in relief. Then as a starter, he defeated the Yankees in game seven of the ALCS and wrapped up the 2004 World Series in game four.
Jim Edmonds, Cardinals Fall Short in WS
Center fielder Jim Edmonds and the St. Louis Cardinals dominated the National League Central during the 2004 season, finishing 105-57. The team's top three sluggers -- Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Albert Pujols -- rapped a combined .316 with 122 home runs and 358 RBI. The trio smashed 12 homers in the NLDS and NLCS, but in the 2004 World Series they ran out of gas, combining for just one RBI.
Finally, Red Sox Fans Can Die Happy
"Cursed" since 1918, when Boston last won the World Series, Red Sox fans finally realized their dream in 2004. On October 30, more than three million fans attended a celebratory parade through Boston. Said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner: "So many people in their 90s have come up to me and said, 'I just want to live long enough to see one championship before I die.' This is for them."
The next page highlights key events and details from the 2004 baseball season.
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2004 Baseball Season Highlights
The 2004 baseball season was a big one for the Boston Red Sox who finally lifted the "curse of the bambino." The Red Sox had been without a World Series victory since 1918, making victory so much sweeter when they overcame the Cardinals. Below, you will find the highlights from the 2004 baseball season:
- Houston, left for dead in August, wins 28 of its last 35 games under midseason managerial hire Phil Garner to capture the National League wildcard.
- The Braves, winners of the National League East, fall to Houston in a five-game NLDS.
- The National League Central champion Cardinals dispose of West champ Los Angeles in a four-game NLDS.
- St. Louis wins a thrilling NLCS in seven games.
- Houston outfielder Carlos Beltran clubs four homers in the NLDS and four more in the NLCS.
- Wildcard winner Boston sweeps a three-game ALDS from West champion Anaheim.
- New York defeats pesky Minnesota in four ALDS games.
- Boston falls behind three games to none in the ALCS before staging a shocking comeback, taking four straight from the Yankees.
- The Red Sox finish with eight straight wins, as they sweep St. Louis in four games to win the 2004 World Series.
- Boston's Manny Ramirez is named 2004 World Series MVP after hitting .412 with four RBI.
- Curt Schilling of Boston starts and wins game two of the 2004 World Series despite pitching with a torn tendon in his right ankle.
- Boston's David Ortiz drives in 19 runs in the postseason.
- Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero is named 2004 American League MVP.
- Guerrero bats .337 with 39 home runs and tops the American League in runs (124) and total bases (366).
- Twins lefty Johan Santana (20-6) is the American League Cy Young Award winner, garnering all 28 first-place votes.
- Santana's league-leading 2.61 ERA is more than two runs below the American League's average. He also leads the junior loop with 265 strikeouts.
- Barry Bonds of the Giants wins his seventh National League MVP Award.
- Bonds leads the National League in BA (.362), OBP (a record .609), and SA (.812).
- Bonds homers 45 times in only 373 at-bats.
- Bonds belts his 700th career home run on September 17.
- Bonds breaks his own single-season major-league record with an eye-popping 232 walks -- 120 of which are intentional.
- Bonds breaks the major league career walk record, previously held by Rickey Henderson, on July 4. He finishes the season with 2,302.
- Roger Clemens, coming out of retirement to sign with the Astros, wins his seventh Cy Young Award.
- Clemens, at age 42, finishes 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts.
- Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle sets an all-time major league record with 262 hits, breaking George Sisler's mark of 257.
- Suzuki's .372 average is the best in the junior circuit since 1980.
- Miguel Tejada, in his first year as Baltimore's shortstop, knocks in 150 runs to pace the major leagues.
- Tejada wins the Home Run Derby with a record 27 total homers.
- Manny Ramirez tops the American League with 43 homers and a .613 SA.
- Catcher Ivan Rodriguez signs with Detroit and hits .334 with 86 RBI.
- Rodriguez wins his 11th Gold Glove, a record for catchers.
- St. Louis racks up 105 wins, the most in baseball and the highest National League total since 1998.
- The Yankees' 101 wins are the most in the American League.
- Baltimore's Melvin Mora hits .340 with 27 homers and paces the American League with a .419 OBP.
- Brian Roberts of the Orioles hits .273 with just four homers, but he leads the American League with 50 doubles.
For more highlights of the 2004 baseball season, see the next page.
To learn more about baseball, see:
More 2004 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more highlights of the 2004 baseball season, including Mariano Rivera saving 53 games and Pirates outfielder Jason Bay being named National League Rookie of the Year.
- Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford emerges as one of the American League's most exciting players, leading in triples (19) and stolen bases (59).
- Atlanta's Julio Franco, who is at least 45, raps .309 over 125 games.
- Schilling leads the junior circuit with 21 wins.
- Mariano Rivera of the Yanks saves 53 games, pacing the American League for the third time.
- Boston trades superstar shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs on July 31.
- Rangers reliever Frank Francisco, involved in an argument with a fan, causes injuries when he throws a chair into the stands at Oakland on September 13.
- Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby (22 homers) is named 2004 American League ROTY.
- Pirates outfielder Jason Bay (.282 with 26 homers) is the 2004 National League ROTY.
- Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre wins his first home run crown (48).
- Brewers outfielder Scott Podsednik hits .244 but leads the majors with 70 stolen bases.
- The Diamondbacks finish 51-111, the worst record for a National League club since 1965.
- The Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson, age 41, paces the majors with 290 strikeouts. His 2.60 ERA ranks second in the National League.
- One of Johnson's 16 wins is a perfect game at Atlanta on May l8.
- Rockies infielder Vinny Castilla tops the National League with 131 RBI.
- Pittsburgh's Craig Wilson is hit by 30 pitches, the majors' highest total since 1998.
- The Indians rout the Yankees 22-0 on August 31.
- Jason Schmidt of the Giants fires two one-hitters en route to an 18-7 season.
- Beltran, dealt to Houston, clubs 23 homers in 90 games for his new team. He also swipes 28 bases without being caught for the Astros.
- Albert Pujols of St. Louis tops the majors with 389 total bases.
- Pujols hits .331 with 51 doubles and 46 homers.
- Colorado's Todd Helton bats .347 with 49 doubles and 32 homers.
- Cubs righty Greg Maddux wins his 300th career game on August 7 at San Francisco.
- Maddux wins his 14th Gold Glove.
- Thanks to spacious new Petco Park, the Padres hit just 57 homers in 81 home contests. They club 82 big flys on the road.
- Japanese relievers Shingo Takatsu of the White Sox and Akinori Otsuka of the Padres finish among the top three rookies in their respective leagues in ROTY voting.
- Ken Griffey, Jr., swats his 500th home run on June 20.
- The American League wins yet another All-Star Game, blowing out the National League 9-4 at Houston on July 13.
- San Diego's Mark Loretta raps .335 (third in the National League) with 208 hits.
- In position to win the National League wildcard, the Cubs collapse in the final week, losing five straight at home.
- Philadelphia opens Citizens Bank Park after having played in Veterans Stadium since 1971.
- The Phillies, expected by many to win the National League East, instead finish a disappointing second. Manager Larry Bowa is fired.
- In anticipation of Hurricane Ivan, the Marlins are forced to play two "home games" vs. the Montreal Expos at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field on September 13-14.
- A long-suppressed steroids scandal rears its head throughout the season and after the World Series. Several superstar players, including Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, are implicated.
- Ken Caminiti, the 1996 National League MVP, dies on October 10 of drug-related heart problems.
- Former Reds owner Marge Schott dies on March 2.
- The Montreal Expos, a National League franchise since 1969, play their final game on October 3. The franchise moves to Washington for 2005.