As Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday, there's no better time to step back and look at a more recent bit of notable Red Sox history: May 13th, 2007, perhaps the one positive date in the not-quite-storied career of Julio Lugo.
I'm talking, of course, about the Mother's Day Miracle, one of those sorts of things that happens when you have a baseball team that's just somehow destined to go far that year. You just have wins like this sprinkled throughout the season. Case in point: the 2004 ALCS. The 2007 team had a sort of magic to them, and one of the occasions they chose to unleash said magic was on Mother's Day of that year.
To set the stage, the Orioles had dominated the game up until that point. They were up 5-0 in the bottom of the ninth. Jeremy Guthrie, the starter for the O's on the day, went 8-1/3 innings, his final out being a ground out from Julio Lugo to start off the frame. After a throwing error from Ramon Hernandez allowed the next batter, Coco Crisp, to reach first, Guthrie was pulled in favor of the Baltimore bullpen. In retrospect, that probably wasn't a very good idea.
With one out and Crisp on first, reliever Danny Baez threw David Ortiz exactly two pitches. The second one ended in a double to deep center, scoring Crisp. Wily Mo Pena (remember him?) then singled to move Papi to third, and the Orioles, looking to immediately stop the bleeding, signaled for their closer Chris Ray to enter the game.
Ray was about to have a bad time.
Obviously, it wasn't Ray's day, because he walked J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis without either of them swinging at a single pitch -- those two didn't exactly need the assist when it came to walking. Youk's walk forced in the second run, with the score standing at 5-2 as Papi trotted home. The bases were still full of Red Sox as captain Jason Varitek strode to the plate. Ray promptly threw another ball to start him off, and Tek wisely knew that Ray was going to be desperate for a strike at this point. He threw one because he had to and Tek knocked it out to right center to bring in two more runs.
With Youkilis on third and Varitek on second, Ray elected to intentionally walk Eric Hinske (whose claim to fame besides participating in this rally is probably reaching the World Series three consecutive years on three different baseball teams) to attempt to escape via the force out. Not a bad idea, considering it works a lot of the time, but Ray was facing the 2007 Red Sox. It only almost worked in this case. Alex Cora grounded into a fielder's choice and was safe at first, with Youkilis sliding into an out at home plate. Now there were two outs and the fielders could throw to any base, and Julio Lugo was at the plate.
To put this into perspective, Julio Lugo was at the time one of the biggest sources of frustration in recent memory for Red Sox fans. Signed in December 2006 to a four-year deal, it was hoped that Lugo would fill the gaping hole at shortstop that arguably wasn't properly filled until the arrival of Xander Bogaerts (and this is coming from someone with a long history of utterly adoring Jed Lowrie, a long story I'll tell another time).
The idea was that Lugo would be the team's leadoff hitter, but that plan fell through due to his inability to consistently get on base. He was remarkably error-prone. He did, however, set the club record of 20 consecutive stolen bases, but it was a rare bright spot in a rather dark era in Boston. The Sox eventually designated him for assignment in 2009, and I'm fairly sure not a single tear was shed in Red Sox Nation. (For those of you too new to the fanbase to have had to deal with this, you're very fortunate. Mentioning Lugo brings back war flashbacks for many fans.)
Here, perhaps, is the most miraculous part of the Mother's Day Miracle: Julio Lugo got on base without causing an out.
In fact, he drove in two runs. Sort of.
Lugo hit a chopper to the right side. Kevin Millar -- one of The 25, but now on the O's -- fielded the ball and apparently decided to prove once again that he still believed he was on the Red Sox by rushing the throw to Ray as Lugo sped up the line. The throw went wide as Lugo slid into first base, and although Varitek, on third, was home by that point, the error gave Hinske the chance to score, as well.
6-5, Red Sox. Incredible.
I've done my best to describe what's widely considered the greatest single-game comeback in team history (the 2004 ALCS is probably always going to be remembered as the ultimate comeback, with good reason), but there are things that words just can't adequately do justice to. It's probably best just to watch it and see it for yourself. It's very fondly remembered for a reason.