Today marks eight years since the Red Sox took the initial steps toward becoming the first baseball team to ever win a seven-game series after dropping the first three contests. Normally, you wouldn't see a mention of that here: eight years is just a random amount, and doesn't have the same built-in excuses for reminders that something like 10, 25, or 100 years does. Bringing it up all of the time would devalue it in a way, or, at least, devalue the accomplishments that came afterward. That's too much emphasis on the past, for a game that's always creating new stories, always moving forward.
No, the reason to bring it up right now is because today, eight years to the day that the Red Sox took Game Four at Fenway Park to stay alive for Game Five, the Yankees are down three games to none against the Tigers in this year's American League Championship Series. The intent here also isn't to rub this fact in New York's face, or the faces of the club's fans. Yes, it will be enjoyable when every Red Sox fans' favorite graphic appears during Wednesday's game -- the displaying of which teams have come back from 3-0 in seven-game series. But this is an opportunity for the Yankees to take that series back -- re-appropriate that moment, and this series, if you will, in the same way the Red Sox were able to erase some of the 2003 misery with this victory.
The Bombers are down three games to none, their ace is on the mound, and they have nothing left to lose at this point given their current position. It's like 2004 for Boston, all over again, and even the calendar agrees.
CC Sabathia will take on Max Scherzer in Detroit tonight. The Tigers can clinch their first World Series appearance since 2006 with a victory, but the Yankees can stave off defeat with a win. The offense has been terrible to this point, scoring just five runs in three games, but the pitching has been nearly as good as the hitting has been poor, and it's made this series close despite what the three losses might tell you.
Boston looked terrible in their own first three games of the ALCS, with the problems on the other side of the ball. The offense was clicking, with 16 runs in three games, but the pitching gave up 32 runs in those three contests. Game Four changed the makeup of the series, and that carried on throughout the rest of the match-up. Boston scored six runs, with the help of extra innings, and New York put up just four against Boston hurlers in those 12 frames. The rest of the way, Boston outscored New York 19 to 9, and took the last three games and the series.
In Game Four, the Red Sox put together a series of moments that are hard to forget for anyone who witnessed them. Kevin Millar drew a walk. Dave Roberts pinch ran, and logged what is now known in New England as "The Steal." Bill Mueller then drove Roberts in, tying the game against the greatest closer ever, Mariano Rivera, in the ninth. In extras, David Ortiz made good on the clutch persona that had been crafted for him, smashing a two-run homer to assure Boston of one more game in a seemingly lost series, making him the first player with two walk-off homers in the same postseason. (In case you're hazy on all that, feel free to watch it once more.)
New York nearly had the start of their comeback in Tuesday's game against the Tigers. Eduardo Nunez hit an improbable homer against Justin Verlander in the ninth, as the exclamation point on a terrific at-bat. Phil Coke then came in to close out the game, as the southpaw was set to face a slew of lefties in the Yankee lineup. New York nearly made it happen, but Raul Ibanez struck out to end the game before another run could be pushed across. That wasn't New York's last chance, though: that, for now, is scheduled for this evening.
They'll have to do it without Derek Jeter, who is out with a fractured ankle. They might also have to do it without the Alex Rodriguez we've known in the past, as his bat looks slow, and Rodriguez suddenly looks older than this years. Nick Swisher's bat is quiet, the Yankees as a whole can't seem to do anything right at the plate... That's what makes this potentially exhilarating for New York, though: they aren't supposed to win. That's not often the case for the Yankees, but that's reality at this moment.
Whether or not the Yankees are able to come back against the Tigers is unknown -- it's not impossible, as the 2004 Red Sox showed us, but it is improbable. They'll get their chance, though, to turn this piece of history to their advantage, and on the same day that history first turned against them. Baseball is funny like that.