By Ron Griffitts
The 2004 World Series, one of the most memorable in baseball history, featured the St. Louis Cardinals 105-57 managed by Tony La Russa with general manager Walt Jocketty facing the Boston Red Sox 98-64 managed by Terry Francona and general manger Theo Epstein.
The Bosox had not won a World Series since they defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-2 in 1918 with Babe Ruth winning two of the four games. Ruth was traded to the Yankees and the Red Sox had not won a World Series since in what was termed the “Curse of the Bambino.”
In the Amercian League Championship Series, the Red Sox faced the New York Yankees 101-61 and after losing the first three games and being behind in the ninth inning of game four, they battled back to win games four and five in 14 innings each and games six and seven to win the Championship Series after being behind three games to none.
The Cardinals were led on offense by Albert Pujols 46 HR, 123 RBI, .331 BA, 133 RS, Scott Rolen 34 HR, 124 RBI, .314 BA, Jim Edmonds 42 HR, 111 RBI, .301 BA, 102 RS, former Red Reggie Sanders who had surfaced on yet another World Series team 22 HR, 67 RBI, 21 SB, and Tony Womack 26 SB, .307 BA.
Their pitching staff had Matt Morris 15-10, Jason Marquis 15-7, Woody Williams 11-8, Jeff Suppan 16-9 and Chris Carpenter 15-5 with Jason Isringhausen 4-2, 2.87 ERA, 47 SV, Julian Tavarez 7-4, 2.38 ERA and Ray King 5-2, 2.61 ERA in the bullpen.
The Red Sox were led by Manny Ramirez 43 HR, 130 RBI, .308 BA, 108 RS, Johnny Damon 20 HR, 94 RBI, .304 BA, 123 RS, 19 SB and David Ortiz 41 HR, 139 RBI, .301 BA, 94 RS.
The Red Sox pitching was led by Curt Schilling 21-6, Pedro Martinez 16-9, Tim Wakefield 12-10, Derek Lowe 14-12 and later Reds’ pitcher Bronson Arroyo 10-9 with Keith Foulke 5-3, 2.17 ERA 32 SV in the bullpen.
Game one took place in historic Fenway Park in Boston with Woody Williams and Tim Wakefield as the starters but both had an early exit as the Red Sox led 7-2 after three innings with the help of a David Ortiz three run home run in the first inning but the Cards battled back and the score was tied 9-9 until David Bellhorn added a two run home in the bottom of the eighth for an 11-9 Red Sox win.
Larry Walker added a solo home run for St. Louis in the fifth.
In game two, Curt Schilling who had appeared for Arizona in the 2001 Fall Classic started and went six innings and together with three relievers held the Cardinals to five hits and two runs for a 6-2 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
Jason Varitek, Mark Bellhorn and Orlando Cabrera each drove in two runs each for Boston.
For game three the teams switched to the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis and again the Red Sox got out to an early lead and behind the pitching of Pedro Martinez who gave up only three hits and no runs in his seven innings of pitching combined with Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke for 4-1 Red Sox victory and their seventh straight post season win to go up three games to none.
Larry Walker had a solo home run for the Cards and Manny Ramirez one for the Red Sox.
With momentum on their side and hungry for victory after an 86-year World Series championship drought, Derek Lowe pitched seven innings of three hit baseball and together with Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree and Keith Faulke held the Cardinals scoreless for a 3-0 win and a World Series title.
Johnny Damon added a home run and Manny Ramirez got the series MVP. St. Louis returned to the Fall Classic in 2006 while Boston was back in 2007.
It is interesting to note with the present wild card race going on in the National and American leagues, that the Boston Red Sox were a wild card team which proves that if a team is playing well at the end of the season they can go all the way to a World Series title.
Then-St. Louis manager Tony La Russo, who retired after 33 years as a manager, was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame and at 76 years old returned as the present day Chicago White Sox manager who have qualified for the playoffs after winning their division.
Statistics were from baseball-reference.com and baseball-almanac.com.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.