Boston forces a historic game six in the ALCS, a Red Sox lifer is set free, and former Boston backups share a birthday.
Games of Note: The Red Sox avoided elimination with their dramatic come-from-behind victory in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS, punctuated by David Ortiz's second walk-off homer of the postseason. That was the first time a player had two walk-off long balls in the same playoffs, but Ortiz wasn't done yet. To finish off the longest game in postseason history, Ortiz hit a walk-off single in the 14th inning. Boston became the third team to force a Game Six after dropping the first three games of the series. To that point, none of the other teams -- the 1998 Atlanta Braves and 1999 New York Mets -- had ever won that Game Six.
The five-hour, 49 minute contest would last as a record for just one year, as the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves played an National League Division Series game that was one minute longer in the 2005 playoffs. It was a team effort to even force the game to 14 innings, but Game Five was all about Ortiz: he drove in a run in the first, hit a home run in the eighth off of former Red Sox pitcher Tom Gordon, and then drove in the winning run. There's a reason a "Who's your Papi?" chant started, with Red Sox fans re-appropriating the "Who's your daddy?" chant levied at Pedro Martinez by Yankees fans in the past.
Transactions: Mike Greenwell was granted his free ageny on this date in 1996. Greenwell was selected by Boston in the third round of the 1982 draft, and played his entire 12-year career with the Red Sox. "Gator" was finished in the majors at this point, and went off to Japan to play baseball. He signed the largest contract ever for a Hanshin Tiger, but then hurt his back in the pre-season. After his return from that injury, he hurt his foot, and then quit Japanese baseball after just seven games and a 656 OPS.
Birthdays: Alex Cora turns 37 today. Cora played with the Red Sox from 2005 through 2008, coming over to Boston from the Indians in the Ramon Vazquez trade. Another former backup from the aughts, Doug Mirabelli, turns 42 today. Mirabelli was Tim Wakefield's personal catcher when he was here, but was also known for his power: with the Red Sox, he had nearly a .200 Isolated Power that helped make up for his low batting averages and on-base rates.