Much like the remake of a classic movie, you saw the script before. Last night the Red Sox, undaunted by a six-run outburst in the seventh inning by the Yankees, came from one run down in the ninth against Mariano Rivera, the undisputed greatest closer of alltime. The key to the Boston rally was a stolen base by Quentin Berry, pinch running for Mike Napoli who singled to start the inning. An Austin Romine throwing error allowed Berry to scamper to third where he was driven home on a single to right by Stephen Drew.
Of course the old script from the Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS original production had Dave Roberts in the role of Berry, Jorge Posada playing the part of victimized catcher (yet without the error) and Bill Mueller playing the hero by driving in the tying run with a single.
In his 1,107 career games, Rivera has faced Boston 114 times, for 10.3% of his career appearances. He’s saved a total of 649 games, 8.9% of those coming against Boston, with 19% of his 79 career blown saves coming at the hands of the Sox. Seemingly invincible at times with a career ERA of 2.21, against Boston it climbs to 2.83, the third highest against any AL club (Angels 3.75, Orioles 3.05).
However the key to last night’s game was the stolen base. In fact in the regular season, the Red Sox have stolen more bases against Rivera (8) than the number of home runs they’ve hit against him (7). In games the Red Sox stole at least one base against Rivera, including the great Roberts robbery during the playoffs, their record is 5-1. Six games, nine stolen bases, six runs.
Here’s a breakdown:
April 24, 2004 On first base following a force out of Manny Ramirez at second in the 10th inning of a 2-2 game, Jason Varitek takes off for second and makes it but is stranded as Kevin Millar pops out to end the inning. Boston rallies in the 12th off of Paul Quantrill for the 3-2 win.
September 17, 2004 Trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Dave Roberts, pinch running after a Trot Nixon walk, steals second as Varitek strikes out. Roberts comes into score the tying run on an Orlando Cabrera single. Later in the inning, Johnny Damon drives in the game winner.
October 17, 2004 Trailing three-games-to-none in the series and 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4, Rivera walks Kevin Millar who is promptly pinch run for by Dave Roberts. On the first pitch to Bill Mueller, Roberts steals second and comes around to score the season-saving tying run on Mueller’s single. Boston wins the game on a 12th inning David Ortiz home run off of Paul Quantrill, en route to becoming the only team in big league history to win a series after trailing 3-0.
April 27, 2007 Entering the game in a non-save situation trailing 7-4 in the top of the ninth, Rivera promptly allows four earned runs, including one scored by Coco Crisp who stole second base after driving in the eighth run with an RBI single. It’s the last time Rivera has allowed as many as four runs in a game.
September 26, 2010 With the Red Sox trailing 2-1 in the top of the ninth, Ryan Kalish and Bill Hall each stole second and third base and score to give the Sox a 3-2 lead and hand Rivera a blown save. The Yankees however rally for a run in the bottom of the inning and one in the 10th for the walkoff win.
September 5, 2013 Pinch runner Quentin Berry scores on a Stephen Drew single after stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error by catcher Austin Romine. Red Sox win in 10 innings.
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He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrateds 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.
Now living in Marblehead, hes focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.