The Red Sox’ improbable one-season turnaround from just 69 wins in 2012 to winning the AL East championship in 2013 has captivated the attention of Boston sports fans and given them something to be proud of after the disaster that was the Sox’ 2012 campaign. The team completed its biggest single-season improvement since the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Red Sox won the American League pennant, a team that this current one has often been compared to.
With that in mind, and the Sox headed back to the postseason for the first time in four years, here’s a look at the Red Sox’ postseason history since 1967. Next
1967: American League champions
The Red Sox had not had a winning record in almost 10 years, and were just two years removed from losing 100 games. Needless to say, heading into 1967, not much was expected from the Red Sox. But Boston proved everyone wrong in 1967, winning games in the most electric fashion, garnering the nickname “The Cardiac Kids.”
Even a devastating injury to local hero Tony Conigliaro, when he was hit in the eye by a pitch, could not stop the Red Sox, as they rallied around their fallen teammate in an epic final month of the year that saw four teams gunning for the American League title. Carl Yastrzemski led the charge with a Triple Crown and AL MVP season.
One game behind the Minnesota Twins with a two-game series against them remaining, the Red Sox swept the set and won the pennant, with Yastrzemski going 7 for 8 with 6 RBIs in the series.
After the amazing league title, the Red Sox could not cap off the season with a championship, as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven game World Series that saw St. Louis’ Bob Gibson win three games. Next
1975: American League champions
In 1975, the Red Sox won 95 games and their first division title, making the postseason for the first time since ’67 and setting up an ALCS with the west champion Oakland Athletics, who had won the past three World Series titles.
Incredibly, the Red Sox swept the A’s in three games to advance to the World Series, where they would meet the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Red Machine,” in a World Series that would go down as one for the ages.
Down three games to two in Game 6 at Fenway Park, Bernie Carbo came on to pinch-hit with two runners on in the bottom of the eighth with the Red Sox trailing 6-3, and hit a home run to tie the score. The game would stay that way until the bottom of the 12th inning, when Carlton Fisk launched one of the most memorable home runs in history, a towering shot to left that was hooking foul, but Fisk’s "fair ball" wave as he headed toward first coaxed the ball just enough as it hit off the foul pole for a game-winning home run.
Howevere the Red Sox lost Game 7 and the series despite taking a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning. Next
1986: American League champions
1986 will always remain among the most difficult memories for Red Sox fans despite a dominant regular season by Roger Clemens, who took home both the Cy Young and MVP awards, and the Sox winning the AL East title by 5.5 games over the Yankees.
Boston faced off in the ALCS against the California Angels and fell behind three games to one heading into Game 5. The Angels took a 5-2 lead into the top of the ninth, and, after a two-run homer by Don Baylor, Dave Henderson gave the Sox a 6-5 lead after his own two-run homer with the Angels just one strike away from winning the pennant. The Sox would go on to win the game 7-6 in 11 innings and win the next two games to take the American League championship.
The World Series, however, it what everyone remembers from ’86, as the Red Sox found themselves in Game 6 one strike away from their first championship since 1918, and the scoreboard at Shea Stadium even briefly flashed to congratulate the “World Champion Boston Red Sox.”
But Bob Stanley’s wild pitch allowed the Mets to tie the score, setting up for arguably the most painful moment in Red Sox history. A ground ball to first baseman Bill Buckner, who was only in the game because manager John McNamara wanted Buckner to be on the field when the Sox won the World Series, saw the ball go through his legs, allowing Mookie Wilson to score from second base and win the game.
Just like in ’75, the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning of Game 7, but the Mets rallied to stun the Red Sox and take the World Series; the bizarre finish to 1986 helped breathe fire into the idea of the “Curse of the Bambino.” Next
1988: AL East champions
This was the season the Red Sox returned to the postseason for the first time since their disappointing 1986 finish, as Boston took the AL East title by just a game over the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox held a 43-42 record after the All-Star break, nine games behind the Tigers, and management decided to make a change at manager, firing John McNamara and hiring Joe Morgan.
The Sox would then go on to an incredible end to the summer, and held a 66-50 record just 30 days after Morgan took over and went on to win the division title. The Red Sox were be swept by the Oakland A’s in the ALCS, but the amazing second-half run they went on under their new manager gave way to 1988 being remembered as “Morgan Magic.” Next
1990: AL East champions
1990 saw the Red Sox win their third division title in five seasons and make the playoffs for the second time under manager Joe Morgan. Roger Clemens won 21 games and held an ERA of 1.97, and the Sox finished the season two games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the AL East.
They were, however, swept for the second time in three years by the Oakland A’s in the ALCS, with the A’s and “Bash Brothers” Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco winning their third straight American League pennant. Next
1995: AL East champions
The Red Sox got back to the playoffs for the first time in five years in 1995. After a players strike cancelled the second half of the 1994 and threatened the beginning of 1995, MLB teams played just 144 games, and the Red Sox won the AL East title by seven games over the Yankees.
First baseman Mo Vaughn won the Silver Slugger award, hitting 300 with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs. The Red Sox failed to make noise in the postseason, however, falling to the Cleveland Indians in a three-game sweep in the ALDS. Next
1999: AL wild card champions
The Red Sox made their deepest postseason run since 1986 in the ’99 season, finishing second in the AL East but winning the wild card. Pedro Martinez went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and won the AL Cy Young award.
The Sox faced the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, and fell behind 2-0. The Sox rallied though, coming back to tie the series at two games apiece and force a deciding Game 5. The Sox fell behind 5-2 after two innings and 8-7 after three, but came back and took the lead, winning the game and the series in improbable fashion.
It was their first postseason series win since 1986. The Sox then faced the Yankees in the ALCS and lost the first two games by just one run each. Game 3 was a different story and included Martinez matched up against Roger Clemens, who was making his first postseason appearance in Fenway Park since leaving the club three years earlier and then signing with the hated Yankees.
The Red Sox clobbered Clemens, scoring six runs off him in the first three innings and sending him off early. The Sox won the game 13-1, but that would be the only win of the series for Boston, as the Yankees took Games 4 and 5 to win the pennant. Next
2003: AL wild card champions
In 2003, the Red Sox banded together and made it to the postseason with new, but previously unproven, acquisitions David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, and Bill Mueller, among others. The Sox fell behind the A’s in the ALDS 2-0, but, just like in 1999, rallied back to win the next two games and force a Game 5 in Oakland.
That game would be remembered for centerfielder Johnny Damon being taken off the field on a stretcher after colliding with second baseman Damian Jackson, but Pedro Martinez was able to beat Barry Zito to win the series for the Red Sox and set up another ALCS against the Yankees.
After winning Game 1, the Red Sox stumbled and lost the next two games. Game 3 was characterized by a massive brawl after Roger Clemens threw a high and tight pitch to Manny Ramirez. The brawl turned even more chaotic when 72-year-old Yankees coach Don Zimmer charged Martinez and Martinez grabbed him by the head and threw him to the ground.
The teams went back and forth over the next three games, forcing a Game 7 in New York that would pit Martinez against Clemens again. The Red Sox led 5-2 heading into the eighth, but, in a decision that ultimately cost him his job, manager Grady Little left Martinez in the game after allowing two hits to lead off the inning, and the Yankees tied the game.
The score remained tied into the 11th inning, when starter Tim Wakefield was brought in for a second inning of relief after pitching a scoreless 10th. Aaron Boone, who had pinch-run earlier in the game, came up for his first at-bat of the game, and took the first pitch he saw deep for a pennant-winning home run that assured Boone’s place in Red Sox infamy along with Bucky Dent. Next
2004: World Series champions
It seemed it would be (a la Yogi Berra) déjà vu all over again for the Red Sox in 2004. Equipped with a new manager in Terry Francona and a new free-agent starter in Curt Schilling, the Red Sox swept the Anaheim Angels in the ALDS and faced the Yankees in the ALCS for the third time in five seasons.
This year’s ALCS began even worse for the Red Sox than the last one as they lost the first three games, including a 19-8 embarrassment at home in Game 3. With Mariano Rivera coming in for the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 4 with the Yankees holding a 4-3 lead, it looked it was all over. But a Rivera walk to Kevin Millar set up one of the most memorable plays in Red Sox history. Aging outfielder Dave Roberts pinch-ran for Millar and stole second base, then was driven home by Bill Mueller to tie the game at four.
The teams were tied heading into the 12th inning, and in the bottom of the frame, David Ortiz hit a two-run, game-winning home run to keep the Red Sox alive.
Game 5 was just as intense, going into extra innings again after Boston rallied from being down two runs in the bottom of the eighth, and Ortiz was the hero again, hitting a game-winning single in the bottom of the 14th to send the series back to New York.
Game 6 proved to another classic, as Curt Schilling made the start despite a surgically repaired torn tendon sheath in his right ankle, causing him to bleed through his sock. But Schilling soldiered on, throwing seven innings and allowing just one run on a home run in the seventh.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Derek Jeter on first base, Alex Rodriguez hit a ground ball that was fielded by pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who attempted to tag Rodriguez out. In what was already an incredibly wild series, Rodriguez slapped Arroyo’s arm and the ball came loose, allowing Jeter to score and Rodriguez to take second. The umpires held a quick meeting, however, and decided that Rodriquez would be called out for interference and Jeter must return to first, prompting outrage from the fans at Yankee Stadium.
Keith Foulke shut the Yankees down in the ninth, and, although there was technically one game remaining in the series, it might as well have been over, as the Red Sox scored early and often in Game 7, ultimately crushing the Yankees 10-3 to win their first pennant since 1986, in the process becoming the first team in MLB history to win a seven game series after falling behind 3-0.
The Red Sox kept rolling through the World Series, sweeping the Cardinals to win their first world championship in 86 years, officially ending the “Curse of the Bambino.” Next
2005: AL wild card champions
After winning the 2004 World Series, the Red Sox were defending the title for the first time since 1919, and they made a strong push at the end of the year to get in as more than just a wild card. Heading into the final series of the year, a three-game set with the Yankees, the Red Sox were one game behind New York, needing a sweep because the Yankees held the tiebreaker for the division.
The Sox took two out of three, and, although they finished with the same record as New York, Boston had to settle for the wild card. Facing the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS, the Red Sox could not muster the same results to repeat as champions, and fell to the eventual world champion White Sox in three straight games to end their title defense.
The 2005 offseason would see many members of the 2004 World Series team leave Boston, including Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, and Bronson Arroyo. Next
2007: World Series champions
The 2007 squad became the first Red Sox team to win the AL East since 2007, only their sixth division title since the inception of divisions in 1969. The Red Sox steamrolled the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the playoffs and faced off against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. The Sox won Game 1, but lost the next three to leave them in a 3-1 hole entering Game 5.
Josh Beckett put the team on his back, pitching eight innings and allowing just one run with 11 strikeouts to send the series back to Boston. The Sox, now comfortable back at home, demolished the Indians over the next two games, winning Game 6, 12-2, and Game 7, 11-2, to win their second American League pennant in four seasons.
In the World Series, the Red Sox played the Colorado Rockies, who, after winning 14 of their final 15 games just to force a one-game playoff for the wild card, swept through the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the NL pennant. After sweeping both series, the Rockies had a long layover before playing in the World Series, which may have led to their ultimate downfall, as Boston won Games 1 and 2 in Boston.
When the series moved to Colorado, the Red Sox slammed the Rockies 10-5 in Game 3, giving the Sox a chance to sweep their second World Series of the new millennium. Up 4-1 in Game 4, the Rockies rallied to cut it to 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, setting up Jonathan Papelbon for a chance to save the game and win the World Series in the ninth. The future Red Sox franchise leader in saves would deliver, striking out the final batter to give the Sox their second world championship in four years, becoming the first MLB team to win two World Series titles in the 21st century. Next
2008: AL wild card champions
The Red Sox found themselves as the defending World Series champions for the second time in four years, and in 2008 they would make the playoffs for the fourth time in Terry Francona’s tenure.
The surprise of the season, however, was the emergence of the Tampa Bay Rays, who, after being formed in 1998, had spent most of their existence in the basement of the American League. The Rays won 97 games that year, besting the Red Sox by two to take the AL East title, while the Sox had to settle for the wild card.
In the ALDS, the Red Sox upset the AL West champion Angels, who had won 100 games and were heavily favored to win the pennant. That set up another all-AL East ALCS, but this time it was against the Rays. After the Rays took a 3-1 series lead, the Red Sox fought back to tie the series at three games apiece, including an epic Game 5 win in which Boston trailed 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Four runs in the seventh, three runs in the eighth, and a walk-off hit by J.D. Drew in the bottom of the ninth shocked the Rays, who had hoped to wrap up the American League championship that night.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning of Game 7, but the Rays scratched out three runs over the next four innings, and the Red Sox could not muster any more offense. The Rays took the pennant and put an end to the Red Sox’ attempt to win their third straight ALCS when trailing by at least 3-1 in the series. Next
2009: AL wild card champions
Looking to make the playoffs for the third straight year, the Red Sox were able to reel off an impressive 95 wins, but it was well short of the Yankees 103, which easily gave them the AL East title over the Red Sox.
For the fourth time in a row, the Red Sox faced the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS, with the Red Sox 9-1 in the previous three series. This time would be drastically different, however, as the Angels would storm out and take the first two games in California 5-0 and 4-1.
The Red Sox looked ready to send the series to at least four games after taking a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning, and with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound, they quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning. Papelbon would uncharacteristically falter, however, allowing a two-strike single, a walk, and a double to score one, then a two-strike, two-run home run to give the Angels a 7-6 lead, one they would keep to win the game and sweep the Red Sox out of the playoffs. Back to the beginning
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