Mother's Day Miracle
On Sunday, May 14, 2007 the Boston Red Sox were losing 5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles, going into the bottom of the 9th inning. The game was shaping up to be a boring loss, just another humdrum 27 outs that do occur regularly throughout a 162 game season. The Red Sox had jumped out to one of there earliest division leads, 7 games over the second-place Orioles, led by the Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett, who had won his first 7 starts.
But in the fourth inning though, Beckett had surrendered two runs on a single and a throwing error by catcher Jason Varitek in the 1st inning, and had to leave the game because of a cut on a finger of his pitching hand. Beckett had been known to have blister problems throughout his career, so he was taken out for precautionary reasons. He was succeeded by a quartet of relievers, who gave up 3 more runs in 5 innings of relief.
Heading into the bottom of the 9th, with a usually boisterous Fenway Park crowd silent or leaving their seats, this being Mother's Day, it didn't appear that Red Sox moms would have anything to celebrate about this day. Julio Lugo reinforced this notion, leading-off with a groundout to shortstop. Jeremy Guthrie, the Oriole starter, was two outs away from his first career complete game—a shutout at that. Then all hell broke lose for the Orioles.
Coco Crisp came up to bat next, and popped one up to catcher Ramon Hernandez, who for some reason allowed the bloop to drop in front of him, allowing Crisp to take first base. Sam Perlazzo, the Oriole manager, made a questionable call bringing in reliever Danny Baez, as his starter had a 5-0 lead and didn't show any signs of fatigue.
"Big Papi" David Ortiz promptly doubled to deep center, scoring Crisp to make it 5-1. Then Wily Mo Pena, a.k.a. the guy the Red Sox traded Bronson Arroyo for, had one of the few highlights in his otherwise brief and frustrating Red Sox career, singled to left, moving Ortiz to 3rd base, keeping the unlikely rally alive. With one out and runners on first and third, Perlazzo brought in his star closer, Chris Ray. Little did Ray know that his pitching and fielding "exploits" in this appearance would be a harbinger of things to come in his pitching career.
Ray appeared tepid, nibbling the corners as though he had a one run lead, and walking J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis on 8 straight balls, the second walk scoring David Ortiz and reducing the lead to 3 runs, 5 to 2. The crowd of fans that was scattered throughout the stands now seemed to realize that this rally was entirely in the realm of possibility, as the Captain of the Red Sox, Jason Varitek, stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Varitek smacked the second pitch he saw towards the bullpens in right field, scoring Pena and Drew, and moving Kevin Youkilis to third on the double.
The score was now 5-4, and with first base open, the Orioles decided to walk Eric Hinske intentionally to set up the double play at home, or any base for that matter. Although Eric Hinske was not the hitter he was in 2002 when he won Rookie of the Year with the Blue Jays, this was conventional baseball wisdom, with the potential winning run already at second, and a runner at first base thus didn't matter.
Alex Cora was up next, and he tapped one to second, the play came home, and Kevin Youkilis, although television replays appeared to show otherwise, was forced out at home plate. So the Red Sox had played musical bases in exchange for an out, and up stepped Julio Lugo once again. It appeared this bizarre inning was coming full circle, as the Red Sox hopes for finishing this rally would have to be fulfilled with Lugo's bat.
Lugo grounded what appeared to be the game-ender to one Kevin Millar, the former Red Sox jokester and resident oaf, who tossed the ball to Ray, coming over to the bag to cover just as he was taught in Little League. Unfortunately Ray either didn't realize there were two outs, or was thinking of what he was going to do after the touching the bag, or was just incredibly nervous, as he dropped Millar's easy toss, allowing both Jason Varitek and Eric Hinske to score.
Chris Ray, the unfortunate loser in this game, would receive more bad news as he was put on the Disabled List with a rotator-cuff injury, and would not pitch in another Major League game for almost two years due to having Tommy John Surgery.
The Mother's Day Miracle was complete, as the Reds Sox had scored six runs in the 9th, on 4 hits and two errors by the Orioles. With the Red Sox going on to win the World Series in 2007, once again sweeping their National League opponent, this game was a relative foot-note to the season, and yet it was one of the most exciting endings in Red Sox History.